Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia Career Center recently received the National Association of Colleges and Employers Innovation Excellence Award, which recognizes a career center for having the best college program focused on marketing and branding in the nation. This is the second national award for UGA’s Career Center this year—in the spring, the center received the Chevron Award for the development of a groundbreaking program in career services.
Presented at the NACE annual conference in Las Vegas last month, the recent recognition was awarded to UGA’s Career Center for its marketing communications plan titled “The Career Life Cycle,” which was coordinated by Laura Ledgerwood, a UGA career consultant and social media coordinator. Loosely based on the ECHD 3050 Career and Life Planning class, the center created a timeline to schedule Facebook and Twitter posts for the fall and spring semesters of this past academic year. In addition, the plan was designed to take students through the typical steps needed to successfully secure a job or internship. Curriculum topics included resume/cover letter writing, career fair preparation, networking, interviewing, salary and negotiation, and success after graduation.
“It is important for all higher education offices to create an intentional communication plan,” said Ledgerwood. “There are a lot of distractions for this generation, so if you don’t draw in students from the beginning, they likely won’t continue to pay attention to your messages.”
Scott Williams, executive director of the UGA Career Center, said, “Students are likely to engage with us more through social media as its use in higher education increases. Because of this, we feel that having a communications plan in place will help us to extend our reach to students who may not ever visit our office in person.”
Based on both the structure of the Career and Life Planning class and when students typically need career information, the UGA Career Center uses Facebook, Twitter and direct emails to provide virtual career assistance to students seeking jobs and internships. The center accomplishes this by posting information on job searching, preparing for career fairs, specific job leads and other topics at pre-determined times to help students access the right career information. To ensure the effectiveness of the Career Life Cycle plan, Hootsuite and Bit.ly are used to ensure the content reaches students effectively at a time they are likely to both need and access it. Hootsuite and bit.ly allows the Career Center to track the amount of times a user clicks on a shortened link, which helps indicate popular and desired career topics for students.
“The office wanted to brand itself as a career expert and be the first place students looked to for quality career information through virtual resources,” said Tom Landrum, senior vice president for external affairs. “Using this model helped to propel the UGA Career Center to become second in the nation in total number of Twitter followers for U.S. career services offices and to be on the forefront of social media within the field.”
For more information on the awards, see http://www.naceweb.org/Awards/Excellence/NACE_Innovation_Excellence_Awards.aspx.
The UGA Career Center is a centralized and comprehensive career planning and employment office that serves undergraduate, graduate students, and alumni. The Career Center provides a complete range of services and materials in the areas of career development, graduate and professional school preparation, experiential education, and employer relations and recruiting. For more information, see http://www.career.uga.edu/.