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Trends and Issues in Higher Ed

Connecting the Dots: Linking Academic Passion to Life and Profession

Husky Experience  |  May 2015

“A University of Washington education provides students with deep learning across disciplines and a range of professionally useful skills. And yet, many students don’t know what they know, or how it applies to the rest of their lives. We want to make sure students have that aha moment — that epiphany when they realize that what they are learning in classes has applications outside of the classroom.” — Gerald J. Baldasty, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President; Professor, Department of Communication

Research has proven time and time again that skills such as critical thinking, research and teamwork are extraordinarily valuable for our students’ futures. Helping students understand what they know, and practice sharing what they know with others, can make a major difference as they launch towards a new life after graduation.

In the incredibly competitive world new graduates now face, helping them learn to articulate just how excellent the preparation and depth of learning they experience at the UW is critical. Supporting them to recognize their strengths and talents does not have to add to the curriculum; rather, it can be an integral part of class that helps students truly understand the value of their learning.

Asking students “What class activities translate to careers or other aspects of your life after graduation?” or “What might you put on your résumé after this class?” not only prepares them to succeed in the job market, it helps them understand and appreciate the depth of their personal learning and academic passions. The richness of their deep academic work may be lost if we as a UW community don’t help students connect the dots.

May 2015 Feature Stories


UW resources

Faculty and staff

Departments on all three campuses can invite career centers (the Career Center, UW Tacoma’s Career Development, and UW Bothell’s Career Services) to facilitate tailored workshops for students on career skills and discipline-specific job searches. The Career Center’s faculty resource page offers examples and recommendations for helping students link academics and careers, specifically:

  • Career Paths include information faculty and staff can share with students about professional options open to them, in addition to the obvious, with their major.
  • Student Success Templates, customized by departments, link common academic assignments to career skills in the classroom.

Students

  • Campus career centers (the Career Center, UW Tacoma’s Career Development, and UW Bothell’s Career Services) offer information on internships, job opportunities, skill-building workshops, advising, courses, job fairs and more.
  • The Graduate School’s Core Programs offer online resources, career workshops, networking receptions with alumni and career symposia with employers.

Further reading

Beyer, Catharine H., Gerald Gillmore, and Andrew Fisher. Inside the Undergraduate Experience: The University of Washington’s Study of Undergraduate Learning. Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company, Inc., 2007.
Bridgstock, Ruth. “The Graduate Attributes We’ve Overlooked: Enhancing Graduate Employability Through Career Management Skills.” Higher Education Research & Development 28, no. 1 (March 2009): 31–44. doi: 10.1080/07294360802444347. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07294360802444347.
Hart Research Associates. It Takes More than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success. An Online Survey Among Employers Conducted on Behalf of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Washington, DC: American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), 10 April 2013. http://www.aacu.org/leap/documents/2013_EmployerSurvey.pdf.
Kuh, George D. High-Impact Educational Practices: What They Are, Who Has Access to Them, and Why They Matter. Washington, DC: American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), 2008. http://leap.aacu.org/toolkit/high-impact-practices/2011/high-impact-educational-practices-what-they-are-who-has-access-to-them-and-why-they-matter; two-page summary at http://www.aacu.org/leap/documents/hip_tables.pdf.
Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP). “Essential Learning Outcomes.” Washington, DC: American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), accessed 8 May 2015. http://www.aacu.org/leap/essential-learning-outcomes.
National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). Job Outlook 2014. Bethlehem, PA: NACE, November 2013. http://www.howard.edu/careerservices/job-outlook-2014.pdf.
National Survey of Student Engagement. NSSE Research Brief 1: Promoting High-Impact Practices, Maximizing Educational Gains. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research, May 2013.
http://nsse.iub.edu/pdf/HIP_brief_final.pdf.
Umbach, Paul D., and Matthew R. Wawrzynski. “Faculty Do Matter: The Role of College Faculty in Student Learning and Engagement.” Research in Higher Education 46, no. 2 (March 2005): 153–184. doi: 10.1007/s11162-004-1598-1. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11162-004-1598-1.

Acknowledgements

Many thanks to the UW faculty, students, alumni and staff who contributed their stories and photos for the features of this report, and to the UW subject matter experts who lent their advice and assistance, including Amy Barbour ‘14 and Monique Thormann of the Jackson School of International Studies; Joe Kobayashi of the Program on the Environment; Isaiah Brookshire and Megan Gilshire of the College of Arts & Sciences; Molly McCarthy and Jack Stoller of the College of the Environment; Kris Bain of the Dance Program; Amanda Hornby of University Libraries; and Susan Terry of the Career Center.

Additional contributors to the report series include Candice Douglass and Kevin Mihata of the College of Arts & Sciences; Beth Kalikoff of the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL); Glenna Chang, Sean Ferris and Leigh Tucker of Student Life; Kirsten Atik, Anne Browning, Janice DeCosmo, Jennifer Harris, Michaelann Jundt, Francesca Lo, Christine Stickler, Rachel Vaughn and LeAnne Wiles of Undergraduate Academic Affairs (UAA); Gabriel Gallardo, Erin Rowley and Kristian Wiles of the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity (OMA&D); Katy DeRosier, Kelly Edwards and Elizabeth Lowry of the Graduate School; Tomitha Blake, Verena Hess and Christy Kessler of Academic and Student Affairs (ASA); Grant Kollet, Paul Rucker and colleagues of the UW Alumni Association (UWAA); University Marketing and Communications colleagues; and Alicia Palacio of the Office of the Provost.


SERIES EDITORS

Gerald J. Baldasty, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President; Professor, Department of Communication
Marisa Nickle, Director, Strategy & Academic Initiatives, Office of the Provost

WRITING, DESIGN AND PHOTOGRAPHY

Jillian Reddish, Graduate Student Assistant, Office of the Provost

RESEARCH

Elizabeth Barrett, Graduate Research Assistant, Office of the Provost
Jillian Reddish, Graduate Student Assistant, Office of the Provost

EDITING AND PROOFING

Elizabeth Barrett, Graduate Research Assistant, Office of the Provost
Kris Freeman, Public Information Specialist, Office of the Provost
Katie Kirkland, Program Operations Specialist, Office of the Provost
Ignacio Lobos, Communications Manager, UW-IT
Kay A. Pilcher, Communications Manager, UW-IT

ADDITIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY

Brian DalBalcon, Mary Levin, Imana Gunawan, Scott Macklin, Filiz Efe McKinney, Tim Summers, The College of Arts & Sciences, Environmental Studies, The Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies and Women in Science & Engineering (WiSE).