The University of Washington has scaled customized and high-impact career support for their diverse student body of 48,000+ students.
The need to scale
For many years, the University of Washington faced a challenge that nearly all schools face: a student body with diverse career interests, aspirations, needs, and affinities - paired with a limited and often overextended team of career services professionals tasked with helping each student find a fulfilling outcome after graduation. Add to that the ever-expanding field of potential career pathways and the rate of change in the job market that never seems to slow, and the University of Washington team recognized that finding a way to scale the support they offer was critical.
To scale the impact of all of the resources they were already offering by facilitating self-guided engagement, UW partnered with uConnect in early 2016, and rolled out their virtual career center that fall to their 48,000+ students.
Consolidated and curated
The new virtual career center serves as a single, online access point for all of UW’s career services, sourced from multiple career tools implemented across campus, to bring together resume review tools, interview preparation resources, internship and job opportunities, and career exploration advice and insights through dynamic digital content like blogs and videos. Content on the virtual career center is organized into digital communities, within which students can browse the full range of content, all curated around one interest, such as Consulting and Business, or affinity, such as LGBTQ+. This method of organization greatly enhances the scale of UW’s career services, allowing students to easily conduct self-guided search and discovery based on their unique aspirations and identities.
This wealth of content is available to students anywhere, anytime. “Students want to access information on their own time,” said Susan Terry, who served as the Executive Director of the Career Center at the time of UW’s uConnect launch. "Through our website, developed by uConnect, we have this fabulous opportunity to reach students through our communities… [which] they can go to at any time of day or night.”
175,662 VISITORS, 874,754 PAGEVIEWS IN FIRST ACADEMIC YEAR
The new virtual career center was an instant success, with 175,662 visitors racking up 874,754 pageviews in the first academic year alone.
Scaling the power of student outcomes data
The early and continuing success of the virtual career center inspired UW to add more resources to the digital hub, leveraging uConnect's wide range of integrations.
In the fall of 2019, UW embedded their historically aggregated NACE First Destination Survey data into the platform, allowing visitors to access filterable, dynamic data visualizations showcasing the career pathways and outcomes of recent UW graduates. This data, which is incredibly valuable in myriad ways for prospective students, current students, and the institution, was previously available only when requested - in spreadsheets or static PDFs which required manual creation and distribution by staff. By adding the data in a dynamic, publicly available format to their virtual career center, UW made this powerful information readily available to all stakeholders, so as to scale its benefits and increase transparency.
Following great feedback on the addition of the career outcomes data, Briana and her team further doubled down on the strategy to curate resources via their communities.
In 2019, the team re-envisioned and enhanced their career communities to bring in a greater wealth of content, and in 2020 they launched identity communities for students to explore resources that speak to the particular opportunities and challenges they might experience based on an identity such as LBGBQ+ or Student Veterans.
UW also leveraged new uConnect integrations to add more resources to their virtual career center experience, adding Alumni Mentors from their PeopleGrove system, Industry Guides from Vault, and more internship and job postings from their Handshake platform.
As the pandemic set in, the team's commitment to curating digital content grew even further. Here are some of the additional steps UW took to expand the content available in their virtual career center and enhance the career exploration experience on their virtual career center:
• Blogs and advice: Briana and her team were intent on enabling their staff to share more recommendations and advice digitally, in essence ensuring those insights could add value in perpetuity, as opposed to those shared in-person that rarely extend beyond the moment they're delivered. To do so, they enhanced their use of uConnect's content management tools to create content in-house, and also took advantage of the extensive library of content from trusted third-party sources such as The Muse and WayUp that is available within the uConnect dashboard.
• Video library: a wide range of engaging career development videos are now featured across the virtual career center and curated into career communities - some created in-house and others brought in from tools like CandidCareers.
• DIY resource pages: Briana and her team curated 6 new "DIY Resource" communities, organized and titled strategically to plants seeds about the tasks in which they want students to engage, such as "Find Purpose" and "Build Relationships."
• Labor market insights: leveraging uConnect's direct integration with Emsi, a leading provider of labor market data, visitors to UW's virtual career center can now explore dynamic, filterable, and up-to-date data on the salaries, demand, education and skill requirements, and more for specific careers, through data aggregated from across the nation.
524% INCREASE IN PAGEVIEWS ACROSS COMMUNITIES
Student reaction to the enhanced Communities was exceptional. Comparing the 2019 academic year to the 2020 academic year, UW’s virtual career center saw an astounding 532.55% increase in pageviews across Communities.
In the nearly five years since The University of Washington partnered with uConnect, the two teams have worked hand-in-hand, continuously evolving to enhance UW’s delivery of customized, high-impact career services to all students, at scale. Their success continues to grow.