Reimagining Career Services: Agency, Authority, Mastery, and Resourcefulness

In the exchange offered, Doyle relates some of his advice for students and the goals, more broadly, for Career Services at colleges and universities.

Q: What role do you think Career Services fills in a student’s higher education?

We are in the midst of a real revolution in how we think about Career Services, historically this has been an office where you go to find a job, but I think today the larger part of it is helping students identify and articulate what matters to them and why it matters. It is our role to work with students to have a clear idea and individual plan of how to get there.

This is an era in which we need to help our students to take meaningful risks – to invite students to be courageous in their thinking and in constructing, and deconstructing as necessary, our narratives. When we haven’t practiced how to tell our stories – that’s when it all gets muddy and it does our students a disadvantage in finding lives that matter to them.

I think we need to move away from thinking about the life one wants to lead as something that happens in the Career Services office – that kind of conversation needs to happen everywhere. Everyone can be a mentor – and a mentee. That is not defined by what position you have or your level of education; that is an honest conversation that we should all be having with each other.

Q: At what point should a student start engaging with employers? Can you give students an overview of the typical recruitment process for companies?

I think the process should really begin before students even arrive at the university. One of the missed opportunities is the months after students decide to attend a specific college or university. At that point students are vested, and before they arrive at the university they have the time to be expansive about the idea of their careers and lives; and if we can capture that I think we would serve students really well. Beyond that I think a student’s focus should be on answering the questions that will help inform the direction of their career and how they would like to see their life unfold. Then they can circle back and build their employer list as well as, and this is very important, the team of individuals and communities who will support their journey forward. If a student thinks of him/her/their self as a conductor in an orchestra, then you want to develop your strings, brass, and percussion, as part of your personal orchestra.

Q: A lot of students are unable to find internships or part-time work in their field while they are in college. What is your advice for these students? What can they do to make themselves more competitive job candidates?

One of the easy ways for students to practice building their networks is through informational interviewing – or conversations of inquiry, more about this in another post. I do think students should seek support from their Career Services Office, but students also need to utilize everything that is around them. Students must learn to be self-directed and develop agency, authority and mastery of the job search and how they add value to the world of work.

We need students to begin to utilize their projects in class and in the studios and research labs. I think students should absolutely get involved with professional student groups within their field or a related field, because they’ll learn new things about themselves and have experiences to share with potential employers. I would recommend for students to attend conferences related to their major or a theme they are interested in. They should get involved in professional organizations and with the alumni of the institution that they attend. There is a lot that is available and I think students just need to schedule that time together through residence life, greek life, or through any other community.

I think sometimes we think there are not enough opportunities, and we get locked into that mindset. One professional recently said to me that one of the lessons that he believes students and young alumni could learn more about is this notion of resourcefulness.

Take the given circumstances in which you find yourself and identify your goal and figure out how to solve it within your circumstances.

About Gerald P. Doyle

Significant initiatives include the Collens and Presidential Scholarship for the Chicago Public Schools and the City Colleges of Chicago (2008), the creation of the Global Leaders Program (2008), the launch of the St Lucian Visionaries project (2010), and the establishment of the IIE Syrian Higher Education Consortium (2012). In 2017, Student Employment Office was named Illinois Tech's "Department of the Year " for the reimagination of its training modules and programming; moreover, Doyle prototyped Illinois Tech’s inaugural work in the areas of Continuous Improvement and formed the Office of Inclusion, Diversity, and Employer Engagement. In Career Services, Doyle co-created a series of innovative approaches including a Faculty Innovation Grants program, a peer career coaching model, courses such as "Dragon Slayer - Designing YOUR Future" and co-authored several “works-in-progress” including Conversations of Inquiry and Nine Questions for Leadership in Life and Work with colleague Scott Downs.

Doyle holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago in economics and an M.Ed. from Harvard University’s School of Education.

Grounded in Chicago with extensive international experience, Doyle embraces equity, inclusion, diversity, and well-being to guide leadership in life and work.

An innovative and mission-driven educator, Doyle co-creates strategic initiatives that deliver a research-driven and student-focused approach to learning and career outcomes. Community organizing and capacity building organize co-participatory decision-making.

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