UCLA scales career services to 40k online and continuing education students with one dedicated admin, in just 20 minutes per day. In the first three months, subscribers to Handshake by Extension students grew by 500%
A Dedicated Home for UCLA Extension Career Services
Surveys of UCLA Extension alumni prior to 2016 revealed that a lack of robust career services was seen as one of the biggest gaps in the Extension experience. This information led Extension leadership to understand that building out dedicated career services for Extension students would be a powerful strategic initiative; students would feel better supported and find greater career success upon graduation, and the institution would be able to better attract prospective extension students — the vast majority of whom are returning to education for career advancement purposes.
The challenge, then, was building carer services for 40,000+ Extension students, many of whom participate exclusively online, at scale.
In 2016, Jessica Oviedo was brought on as a career office of one, tasked with building and maintaining career services for all Extension students. To help her achieve this seemingly impossible feat, Jessica partnered with uConnect to build a comprehensive and intelligent career development platform that allows all 40,000 extension students to access customized career support at scale.
With the launch of uConnect in 2017, UCLA Extension has implemented an entirely new approach to delivering career services. In the first year, they saw over 150,000 visits to their online career services experience. After integrating their new job board into uConnect, UCLA saw the number of Extension students registered increase five-fold from 200 to 1,000. And the growth has only continued — between 2018 and 2019, Extension’s uConnect platform saw a 31% increase in unique visitors, a 25% increase in sessions, and a 23% increase in page views. Plus, increased usage of UCLA’s job board by Extension students has also continued since the integration between the job board and uConnect platform was put in place: between 2018 and 2019, there was a 174% increase in the number of job applications submitted by Extension students on UCLA’s job board.
INCREASING STUDENT SATISFACTION
After implementing uConnect, the percentage of students who indicated insufficient career support dropped from 47% to 16%.
And importantly, the original statistics that motivated UCLA to build dedicated career services for Extension students have also improved dramatically; before the uConnect implementation, only 47% of alumni reported that there was not enough career support available to them. With the platform in place, that number has decreased to just 16%.
Not only has awareness of Extension career services increased within the UCLA community, it has also been recognized across the industry. In 2018, they received two UPCEA Marketing Awards, a Gold Medal for Most Improved for their submission ‘Scaling Career Services Marketing’, and a Silver Medal in the Web Category for their UCLA Extension career services marketing website.
Building Communities, Leveraging Expertise
Visitors can now access the publicly facing site to find industry-specific career advice, trends, featured jobs and other resources via the 13 curated Career Communities. It also extends the network of community experts participating in the career services experience. Instructors, staff, alumni, and employers, can now post content as “Industry Insiders.” This helps showcase UCLA Extension’s world renowned faculty, programs, and alumni network. Members of the UCLA community, as well as prospective students and employers, can subscribe to receive alerts with tailored content based on their user profiles. With the launch of this site, UCLA has implemented an entirely new approach to marketing their career resources and have seen more than 2/3 of career industry members proactively engage with content in the first year.
Since integrating UCLA’s jobs board into uConnect, the number of job applications submitted by Extension students has increased 219%.
Moving from an Admitted Weakness to a Strategic Advantage
The biggest question from prospective students considering UCLA Extension is about career outcomes. The website was the top place prospects would learn more about UCLA Extension programs and search engines like Google were the top driver of traffic. In 2018, UCLA’s world-renowned marketing team overhauled their entire website and put Extension’s new career services experience at the center of their message. Now, when prospective students, and even current students, land on the UCLA Extension homepage, they can easily find career resources, jobs, advice and more with one click.
To hear from Jessica herself, check out the recording of her webinar, “Challenging the Assumptions of Dedicated Services and Support for Adult and Online Learners”.