Career Advising & Transition Services: A Success Story in the Making

2016-2017 Issue 1

Career Advising and Transition Services has been one of the School’s fastest growing services. In a few short years, it’s evolved from an idea stemming from student feedback to a pilot project and now a fully supported service impacting over 2,000 learners annually. Championed by Gianna Giardino, Senior Manager of Client Services, it has been developed and led by Career & Transition Advisor Maia Korotkina, and further expanded with Career & Transition Administrator Emilie Nketiah.

Here’s how it came to be, and what’s coming next.

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How did the School begin offering Career Advising and Transition Services?

GG: The School is always looking to offer new services to meet our students’ needs. In the marketing department’s annual surveys, our students kept requesting career advice and networking services which were adapted to their profiles and preoccupations. Many of our students are newcomers, working parents, studying part-time, or seeking a career change. Their objectives are different than those of day-time students. In 2012, we began a pilot project with McGill CaPS (Career Planning Service), which helped us pinpoint what we needed to offer. Our first advisor, Maia Korotkina, was hired in January 2013 to plan out and build this service for our learners.

MK: From the beginning, our goal has been to address the specific needs of our students: to enhance their learning experience, broaden their professional network and facilitate their transitions. We wanted them to feel confident about articulating the great value that they bring, and make sure that the Montreal business community is listening. We started with conducting research, benchmarking and focus groups to identify the best service fit, determined an implementation strategy, and within a few months, we had a clear plan of what we wanted to build. We officially launched the service with individual advising sessions and workshops in Fall 2013.

 

What have you added since then?

MK: Since Fall 2013, we have introduced multiple annual networking events and speaker series, which give students the opportunity to meet Montreal’s business leaders. We’ve also established partnerships with over 20 private organizations, industry associations, boards of trade and non-profits so that we can inform and direct our students to their service offerings. And we have publishing partnerships with NMNoticias.ca and 24 heures Montreal to reach potential students and engage them in conversation.

EN: We now conduct over 500 individual consultations, 50 workshops and more than a dozen networking events annually. And we keep growing our services!

 

You reached another big milestone this spring when SCS students approved an additional fee to help fund the service for longer-term sustainability. How did it feel to receive approval from your students?

GG: Awesome! This service is for our learners – their approval validated that we are delivering what they need. Maia will be able to continue to head CATS along with Emilie as we continue to implement our strategic plan for those services. We still rely on private donors and corporate sponsorships to fully carry it out, but the students’ vote has confirmed we’re on the right track.

EN: We’re often told during individual advising sessions how grateful students are and how this service has had a positive, lasting impact on their lives. The outcome from the referendum is validating this on a larger scale.

 

What’s next on your list?

MK: We’re ready to roll out the next phase, which will focus on providing students with more concrete opportunities to bridge their studies with their career. We’ll be adding a job fair, a job board, internships, and a mentoring program. This is an exciting time!

 

What do you want current and potential students to know about the service?

GG: We see this as an important aspect of the McGill experience and engagement. It’s something our students can benefit from the minute they start with us, not only along their learning journey but also in preparation to embark on or change their present careers. They have the opportunity to improve skills and competencies, and make connections that prepare them for the job market. It’s an end-to-end value-add service.

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