A Look at the Future

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By, Annika Tomlin, College Times

Spring semester has come to a close, but that doesn’t mean students’ work is necessarily over. The Career and Professional Development department at ASU is taking all of its services online indefinitely.

“We have a commitment as a department that we will always continue to offer the things that we have virtually,” says Brandee Popaden-Smith, the career readiness director.

For several years, the department’s services were offered online while staff also worked in person to make them more accessible to serve ASU’s population. A growing online presence made the department easily able to update its services when it had to shut down its in-person services due to COVID-19.

“The nice thing is, because the structure and framework was already there, it was very easy to shift to that,” Popaden-Smith says. “What it allowed for us to do is actually learning from and iterating on what we’ve been offering and actually launching new things, too, that were kind of in the pipeline for us to work on. We just sped up the timeline and offered additional resources virtually.”

The team is working hard to add resources for ASU so students can continue moving forward in their career plan.

“We just launched something called our ‘on-demand appointments,’” Popaden-Smith says. “It basically feels like they’re in a live appointment without having to be in a live appointment.”

Popaden-Smith calls it “middle ground” between in-person appointments and having students or alumni look up information on their own.

“It’s a little bit like choose your own adventure, and we go over and present resources and information to the student or alum based upon what they indicate they need or where they have the most questions,” Popaden-Smith says.

The program recently added the Career and Internship Academy, an online module through Canvas that will help students gather tips on starting their career.

“We have one called Internship Ready, and it takes students from the very beginning of exploratory process of ‘I think I want to do and internship’ or ‘I know I want to do an internship but what do I want to do?’” Popaden-Smith says. “It’s more of an entire-process online module that is self-paced that a student can go through for that.”

It helps answer questions like how do I apply for an internship, how do I interview effectively and how do I secure the internship. The two other modules are Career Ready and Career Competencies.

The department already offered most of its services online, so the switch to virtual programs was smooth.

“The hardest part, in some cases, is there is a lot of enjoyment in engaging with our students and alumni population in person at events, in our office for appointments and around campus in the classrooms,” Popaden-Smith says. “I think it’s hard to not have that as an added benefit to engage and read on how people are perceiving or how students are absorbing the information from those verbal or nonverbal cues. I think that has been a little bit of an adjustment.”

Popaden-Smith says she believes it turned out positively and will better the ASU community. The department can make services accessible to everyone and can connect more students and alumni.

“We’re also just really learning more about our employer partners and really getting day-to-day updates about where their hiring decision and their opportunities are at,” Popaden-Smith says. “This has really led to some increased engagement and partnership between us in the university and our hiring employer partners, too.

“We have the support of the university and we have the support of our partners across the university and the technology space to launch new things and try out new platforms or methodology. There is just a lot of support and openness to that, that it might not be perfect the first time around but everybody is really committed to learning from it and making it feel better the next time.”

Popaden-Smith is happy to see there are more employer partners who are keeping their eyes out for the “amazing Sun Devils that we have at ASU” with all of the “incredible transferable skills and amazing experiences” ready to start out in the workforce.

“(The employer partners) are really seeking out the type of skills that our Sun Devils are graduating with,” Popaden-Smith says. “They are seeing this as a different type of institution producing a different type of graduates that they need today and need in the future, too.”

The online services will continue indefinitely as Popaden-Smith and her department do what they can to help the next generation of ASU students and graduates take a step closer to being career ready.

“I think that we stand, as a department, ready and willing to have multiple plans in place and be able to quickly activate on what current circumstances call for in making sure that we are providing the same level of quality support and assistance that we always have, being whatever modality or circumstances that we are faced with,” Popaden-Smith says. “We’re really focused on supporting our students and alumni in making progress and making annual steps forward.” CT

Info: career.asu.edu

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