Streamlined communication and feedback systems at the Cawley Career Education Center are set to be implemented via Google form later this week, thanks to a collaborative effort between the Georgetown University Student Association and staff at Cawley.

The effort is also slated to include a series of focus groups to provide feedback on specific aspects of the career center’s offerings.

The first focus group intends to address how Handshake, a new software Cawley employed last semester to facilitate scheduling appointments and provide students with information about internship opportunities, can provide better access to industries Georgetown students are interested in exploring. The group is set to meet Feb. 2 at 1 p.m.

Recently, Cawley has taken steps to improve services, particularly for international students, who expressed criticism of the Sept. 15 career fair’s perceived lack of international employers.

The Google form, which can be found on GUSA’s website, aims to serve as a permanent outlet for student suggestions on what they would like to improve about their experiences with the career center, according to GUSA President Kamar Mack (COL ’19).

“We realized the campus would benefit from some mechanism to give consistent feedback to the career center,” Mack said.

Mack said students in the past had struggled with the inaccessibility and lack of user-friendly  interface of the online platform the career center used to book appointments.

“If you go to the website and there are no appointments, the site would just read ‘no appointments,’ when, in reality, students could come for drop-in hours during that time,” Mack said. “We’re trying to find more things like that, that we can make subtle improvements on the layout of the site and how it interacts with staff.”

Also meeting Feb. 2 at 1 p.m., the second focus group hopes to address student concerns about staff availability. Students have previously experienced difficulties accessing career advice at crucial points throughout their time at Georgetown.

The student demand for Cawley must be met through innovative methods, Mack said.

“The sheer size of the population it serves in comparison to the number of staff members is a challenge any office would face in their shoes.” Mack said. “Finding ways to make sure they’re serving all of the students that come in is something that has to be tackled creatively and effectively. How can the career center utilize appointments, utilize drop-in hours, utilize other types of support to give students access to staff?”

Both focus groups are open to the public. Cawley staff will moderate discussion in the career center’s lounge.

The launch of these initiatives will allow a larger portion of students to contribute feedback, Susan Campbell, Cawley’s interim director, said.

“The focus groups and Google form, being managed by GUSA, will provide additional forums, giving every student an opportunity to participate,” Campbell wrote in an email to The Hoya.

Recently, Cawley has taken steps to improve services, particularly for international students, who expressed criticism of the Sept. 15 career fair’s perceived lack of international employers. In December 2017, Cawley hosted focus groups for international students in conjunction with the Office of Global Services and the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship.

Using feedback from the December focus groups, Cawley hired new staff and requested the inclusion of an “international” category from Handshake, according to Jodi Schneiderman, Cawley’s manager of career programs and operations.

“Since then, we have hired an international student who will work specifically on international student career programming,” Schneiderman said.

In February, Cawley plans to host two student workshops geared toward international students. On Feb. 2, the career center hopes to identify companies that offer job opportunities for international students. The second workshop, focusing on how international students can access effective networking opportunities, is set for Feb. 23.

Furthermore, the Office of Academic Affairs from the Division of Student Affairs now oversees Cawley after an external program review mounted by Student Affairs, the Cawley Career Education Center and the Office of the Provost. The program review, which engaged national experts weighing in on a multi-month internal assessment of services and improvement, determined that the center would be better served under this purview, according to Vice Provost Randy Bass.

“Many of the goals for improving services that we collaboratively developed with Cawley over the past several months have to do with more closely connecting Career Services with the schools and the academic curriculum — whether it is better alignment with emergent fields and careers, or credit-bearing internships and other opportunities for students to really think about their development sense of vocation and purpose in light of their academic study,” Bass wrote in an email to The Hoya.

Bass also emphasized the growing recognition of the link between career and academic concerns.

“Furthermore, we believe that the trend line in higher education is for Career Services to be more closely connected to academic affairs,” Bass wrote.

Campbell said Cawley will consider all data collected from students when evaluating offerings for the 2018-19 academic year in its strategic planning this May.

“Cawley regularly assesses service offerings and how to best meet the career readiness needs of students,” Campbell wrote. “The assessment process has consistently included input from students — through surveys and bi-annual meetings with school deans and academic councils.”

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