08:10 AM

Ohio State joins new effort to close gap between higher education and work

University Innovation Alliance awarded $2.4 million from the Strada Education Network to redesign the handoff from college to career, from the student perspective

The Ohio State University is joining a national group of leading, innovative institutions that are redesigning the college-to-career pathway. The work is supported, in part, by $2.4 million from the Strada Education Network.

The university announced the commitment today and has started the initiative by drawing on the experience of career services staff, who are using new methodologies to reimagine career readiness initiatives to support students in finding gainful employment following graduation.

“This exciting initiative is providing us the tools and resources to work collaboratively across Ohio State in exploring innovative approaches to support the successful transition from college to career for all Ohio State students,” said Nancy Thompson, director for Buckeye Careers.

Currently, Ohio State works with students and employers to help them connect through career fairs, networking events and online resources. The Buckeye Careers program in the Office of Student Life offers career development assistance, support and resources for all Ohio State students. In addition, the university has over 15 college-based career-services offices on campus.

“This is an exciting opportunity to partner with universities around the country to learn how we can better serve our students,” said Ohio State President Michael V. Drake. “As the value of an Ohio State degree continues to grow, we must also ensure that our graduates are well-positioned to transform their educational accomplishments into career success.”

These services point to success: 77 percent of students at Ohio State complete an internship, co-op or other career-related experience. Half of those students who complete the career experience end up taking a job with that organization at graduation.

"Career services are a natural evolution of focus for the student success movement. If we abandon low-income or first-generation students at graduation with a poorly designed handoff between college-to-career, we risk failing to deliver on the full promise of higher education,” said Bridget Burns, executive director of the University Innovation Alliance. “Strada Education Network understands that innovation starts with listening to, and understanding the perspective of students. This project is about providing career services professionals with the capacity and time to redesign career readiness in order to better prepare students for an increasingly dynamic future of work.”

UIA is the leading national coalition of public research universities committed to increasing the number and diversity of college graduates in the United States. Ohio State is a founding member university and part of UIA’s effort to reproduce promising practices across universities that ordinarily compete. UIA’s eleven campuses have produced an additional 27,000 low-income graduates.

The new initiative is built on an intensive analysis of students’ experiences with current career-related activities on seven UIA campuses: Arizona State University, Georgia State University, Ohio State University, Oregon State University, Purdue University, the University of California - Riverside, and the University of Central Florida.

By mapping processes and systems on each campus, teams specially convened for this project, led by career services professionals, will identify where students are encountering roadblocks on the bridge from college to career. University leaders have committed to sharing common challenges and successful strategies for overcoming them to help students make a stronger transition from college to the world of work.

“Education consumers are telling us, loud and clear, that they’re looking for stronger connections between our nation’s colleges and employers. They’re asking for help making the case that their education is relevant,” said Carol D’Amico, executive vice president, National Engagement and Philanthropy at Strada Education Network. “The University Innovation Alliance is not only doing the hard work of mapping the real-world experiences of students, they’re building trust among institutional leaders that are often afraid to share their challenges.”

Recent research suggests that a graduate’s first job can have profound, long-term economic implications. According to a report from Strada Institute for the Future of Work, 43 percent of recent college graduates are underemployed in their first job out of college. Of those, more than half remain so after ten years. By contrast, just one in ten graduates who land a first job appropriate to their skill level slip into underemployment after five years.

Although a Strada-Gallup survey of more than 23,000 adults found that career advice from employers is among the most highly valued, just 20 percent of students report receiving advice from work-based sources. Following the UIA’s process of identifying barriers and opportunities, the UIA plans to engage interested employers to co-create and scale innovations that support students’ transition from higher education to the workplace.