By Brenna Gomez
About the Author: Brenna Gomez, MFA, is the university innovation alliance fellow in the Office of Academic Affairs. She has 12 years of experience working with first-generation, low-income, students of color in the nonprofit sector, support services in secondary education, and classroom teaching at the college level. Brenna teaches composition, technical writing, and creative writing.
In 2018, the University Innovation Alliance launched a college to career redesign called “Bridging the Gap From Education to Employment.” As a UIA campus, Oregon State University convened a cross-campus committee of teaching faculty, professional faculty, and students to investigate what would be helpful in the transition from college to the workforce. Over 50 students were interviewed, and they overwhelming requested that faculty and instructors discuss career more often in the classroom.
Flash forward to summer 2020, when the Office of Academic Affairs (then the Office of Undergraduate Education), the Career Development Center, and several members of the aforementioned committee piloted Career Champions. Career Champions is a professional development opportunity that provides faculty with tangible ways to incorporate career connection in the classroom while advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion and discussing the barriers to access for students of color, low-income students, and first-generation students. The pilot was a success! 16 faculty participated in the first cohort and had wonderful things to say about their experience:
“The ‘Career Champions’ seminar should be part of every OSU faculty professional development wheelhouse. Working alongside colleagues from different disciplines to learn and discuss topics on how to best support first-generation students, students of color, and students with high-financial need on their pathway to career is an enriching process and crucial to the success of our students and institution. Career Champions is an important reminder of the roles and impact we have as educators in and out of the classroom.” –faculty participant 2020
In 2021 we altered the Career Champions model, so we can serve even more faculty and instructors every year. Instead of a summer intensive, Career Champions is now a six-week program within the term. Participants complete one-hour synchronous Zoom sessions on Fridays and one-two hours of asynchronous work on their own each week. A cohort of 15 faculty members gained knowledge, skills, and confidence after the 2021 program:
- At the beginning of Career Champions, 60% of faculty somewhat or strongly agreed with the statement: “I understand ways I can be a champion or advocate of students with marginalized identities.” Post-Career Champions 100% of participating faculty somewhat or strongly agreed with the statement.
- At the start of the program, 53% of faculty felt somewhat or extremely prepared to “make changes to syllabus assignments, readings, etc. to begin to make a shift in pedagogy connected to supporting first-gen, low-income, and students of color to reach their post-graduation goals.” Post-Career Champions 100% of participating faculty felt somewhat or extremely prepared to begin making changes.
Want to add more career connection into your course while supporting students? Join us for the fall 2021 session of Career Champions! Applications are open and will be accepted until September 26th. Fill out the short application here. For more information, visit the Career Champions page on the CTL website.