Podcast

Blending Academic Advising and Career Coaching

Amanda Morgan, Associate Director of Career Services for the Academic Success and Career Center at Washington State University, shares how WSU blends academic advising and career coaching.

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Amanda Morgan, Associate Director of Career Services for the Academic Success and Career Center at Washington State University, shares how WSU blends academic advising and career coaching.

In the episode, Amanda talks about:

  • Why (and how) WSU’s Academic Success and Career Center office is set up to blend academic advising and career coaching
  • How they’ve created an optional University 100 course for students that’s all about career exploration
  • How they train academic advisors across campus on how to have career conversations with students
  • How they use uConnect’s Labor Market Insights module to help students with career exploration (and how they train academic advisors on how to use it in advising appointments)
  • What advice she has for other career leaders who want to work more closely with academic advising
  • And more 

“Naturally, these two conversations (academic advising and career readiness) go hand-in-hand. I was just looking at a NACE report, and it said 50% of career centers really see academic advising and career services as two different entities,” Amanda said. “I can see why, depending on university structure. But here at Washington State University, we really see those two conversations going hand-in-hand.”

Resources from the episode:

Transcript

Meredith Metsker:

Hey, everyone. Welcome back to the Career Everywhere Podcast. I’m your host, Meredith Metsker, and today, I am joined by Amanda Morgan. She’s the Associate Director of Career Services for the Academic Success and Career Center at Washington State University. Thank you for being here, Amanda.

Amanda Morgan:

Thanks for having me. Excited to be here.

Meredith Metsker:

Yeah, I’m super excited to have you, and I’ve been looking forward to talking with you today about how WSU blends academic and career advising? From what I’ve heard, it’s a unique setup, and I’m excited to dig into why it’s set up that way, how it works, and then some of the results that you’ve seen. Before I get into my questions though, Amanda, is there anything else you’d like to add about yourself, your background, or your role there at WSU?

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah. Well, thanks for having me, really excited to be here. And just a little bit about our center at the Academic Success and Career Center, as our name suggests, we do both academic preparedness and career services in one shop. So we’re a combined center, which is really unique, and I have the opportunity to really help lead our career and employer relations team, which is amazing. I actually am pretty new, or new-ish, to career services. So just started in 2020, right before the pandemic hit, and so have had an opportunity to learn and grow alongside my colleagues. And it’s been a fun ride, so excited to be here.

Meredith Metsker:

Wow, that must’ve been an interesting time to start in career services.

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah, it was unique. I think I started two weeks before we shut down. But the positive end to that was, we really all had to relearn everything that we were doing, and in some instances, it really helped our team grow together during that time as well.

Meredith Metsker:

That’s awesome. I guess that makes sense, when you’re faced with a big hurdle like that or a big crisis, you have to just figure things out and bond, and make it work.

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah, absolutely.

Meredith Metsker:

Okay. Well, before I get into the more specific questions about our topic today, I want to kick us off with a question I ask all of our guests, and that’s, what does Career Everywhere mean to you?

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah. I love this question and I love hearing how others respond to this, and it’s always unique, but there’s always an underlying trend here. But for me, career services… or Career Everywhere is really about ensuring that everyone has access to career-related tools, resources, and advising. For me, that’s really important. We’re a small team, so even though we’re combined shop, really only half of our office really fully engages in career or focuses on career readiness, and we can’t do that on our own, by no means can we do that on our own. And so it’s really, I think, somehow empowering to know that it’s everyone’s job. Very similar to retention efforts across campus, everyone’s job to ensure that students are retained, and for me, it’s everyone’s job to ensure that students are ready to hit the ground running upon graduation, whatever direction they want to go. And so being able to have campus partners buy into that is really important, it makes it more accessible and ultimately really helps the students out in the end.

And I’ll also say, prior to being in career services, I think our campus partners are already having these conversations across campus, and students naturally are going to go to people that they relate to or those that they’re most connected to and feel comfortable with. So why not give those campus partners the tools to have really intentional conversations and be that voice on behalf of the career center?

Meredith Metsker:

I love that, and I especially love your comparison between Career Everywhere and also retention. It really is everybody’s job to make sure a student success is successful.

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah, absolutely. You can’t do it alone.

Meredith Metsker:

Right. Right. Yeah. With the student-to-advisor ratios, there’s just no way, no way.

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah.

Meredith Metsker:

Okay. Well, now, I would love to dig into our topic for today, which is again, how WSU has combined academic and career advising. Can you walk me through what that looks like and how it works?

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah, absolutely. So I think to help provide some context, at Washington State University, we do require that all students meet with an academic advisor before they register for classes. And so we have hundreds of advisors throughout the Washington State University system who are engaging with students, and they really are that key person to help students navigate their academic plan. And then oftentimes, they’re the team that’s really working with students in figuring out what comes next for students and helping them really obtain their goals beyond Washington State University. And so advisors are a really important role in the WSU ecosystem most definitely, and we know that. In our office specifically, all of our career advisors or career coaches, what we call them, also are academic advisors. So we all pitch in and help with academic advising. We work orientation programs. We are really getting in there with our advising community.

In addition to that, we all have a small advising caseload. So our academic advisors in our office primarily work with students who are still deciding on their major, or undecided, we call them exploring students. So every exploring student who comes into Washington State University, we meet with them at orientation, so their first point of entry, and then they’re assigned to someone on our team so we can really help them think about what comes next for them, and really helping them combine what are your future goals and aspirations and how can we help you get there? So oftentimes, it’s reverse engineering their plan, and maybe it’s not starting with the major right away, but really helping them work toward their goals. And oftentimes, at least for our first-year students, it’s really helping them understand what their strengths are, what academic aspects they’re more drawn towards, and then how they’re going to get there. And so we’re able to have some really unique and intentional conversations with students, and really meet them where they are by doing that.

Meredith Metsker:

Okay. So to confirm, and you probably said this, but is it both the career coaches and the academic advisors that meet with those undecided students?

Amanda Morgan:

So our career coaches are their academic advisors. They’re one and the same in our office, and because we’re not housed within a university, college, or department, we really get to be that neutral zone for students as they really work out what they want to do. So there’s no one who is, I don’t want to say pressuring them, but there’s no pressure on our end in terms of which direction they go, we just really ultimately want what’s best for them and help point them in the direction that makes sense for them at that moment in time.

Meredith Metsker:

Gotcha. That makes sense. And it’s the best of both worlds for the student because they get the academic advising and then they also have somebody who has that career success experience, and it’s all within one person. That’s really cool.

Amanda Morgan:

Exactly. And it’s interesting because at orientation, we don’t get to have really long conversations with students, but when they meet with us during the academic year, we’re able to talk to them how we’re also career coaches and can help them beyond just their advising experience and help them meet their goals after graduation. I think it really starts to click for them what resource we are. And oftentimes, for a lot of our students, they’re going to college because they want to figure out what comes next. Obviously, we do have some students that come in because they’re learning about themselves and navigating, but ultimately, our students really want to find employment upon graduation, or they want to get into graduate school, or they have a goal. And so being connected to a career advisor or career coach from their first engagement on campus can be really helpful for them.

Meredith Metsker:

Yeah, I can imagine. Yeah, it’s hard to know what the possibilities are when you just don’t know what you don’t know at that age.

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah. And oftentimes, with our students who are still exploring, they really have no idea. It’s not really about trying to choose between two different focus areas, they really are coming to us with no idea how to proceed forward. They’ve got a lot of different interests and they don’t know how to really funnel that into a major academic area of interest. And so we help them piece those components together.

Meredith Metsker:

I’m curious, what do those conversations look like? How do you narrow it down or help them figure out how their interests tie to a major?

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah. So at orientation… Anyone who’s worked in an orientation program knows those conversations can be fleeting. They’re also, students come to us and they’re getting a lot of information from other places. So at that moment in time, we’re not spending a ton of time figuring out direction, it’s really just onboarding them to the university, getting them some basic academic courses. However, when they meet with us in the fall, we get to have much more intentional conversations. One of the things we do at orientation that really does help this process though, is we encourage our students to take an exploring in career pathway course that our office facilitates. So it’s University 100, and it really is about allowing students to explore and figure out what they’re interested in, what they’re not interested in. That’s always actually sometimes more helpful than what they are interested in.

So they do a one credit eight week course. And the goal is, by doing that course, when it comes time to register for spring semester classes, they have a much better idea of how they want to move forward. And even if they don’t have a particular major figured out at that point, that’s okay. Oftentimes, actually, most students don’t have it figured out by then. They actually do have something narrowed down and they’re ready to start exploring some introductory classes in a couple of different areas. So the class is really important, we do highly encourage it. It is optional, so we don’t require it by any means. And as I said, that course is facilitated by our office. And so one of the things that we do is, everyone in a particular section, they all have the same career coach/academic advisor. So for example, all of my advisees are in one class together, which is great. So they get to form community.

Typically, our career coaches are also the ones that are facilitating that course, unless we are fortunate enough to have a graduate student help us, which we are at this semester. So we do have two graduate students helping us facilitate that course this year, or this semester, I should say. But typically, whoever the career coach or advisor is for that particular class, everyone in their class is also their academic advisee. So it allows us to really build a rapport with students. It allows us to really work with them as they’re navigating their future pathway, and it gives them a sense of community, and also normalizes not knowing what they’re going to do. And so that’s a big part of it too, is just normalizing like, “Hey, it’s okay,” and, “You’re still going to be successful.”

Meredith Metsker:

Right. And, “You are not the only one who is trying to figure it out.”

Amanda Morgan:

Absolutely.

Meredith Metsker:

What are some of the things that you all cover in this University 100 course?

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah. So it’s a lot of self-exploration at the moment. So we utilize Focus 2 currently. So students will do some self-assessments along the way. We have them do an informational interview. We are actually pointing them quite a bit to our uConnect website. And so we do have a whole section on our website that’s explore career paths, and we actually built that section with this course in mind. And so really wanting to make information digestible to students. Because they’re overwhelmed, it’s a lot to take in, it’s their first year, it’s their first semester on campus. They’re not only navigating what it means to be a scholar, but they’re also navigating what it means to be on their own maybe for the first time, or in a new place, new living environment. And so if we can make those really seemingly important conversations much more attainable and accessible, that’s a win for us.

And so we try to help them break that content down and make it more palatable, for lack of a better term. So they do a lot of independent research in terms of career clusters and majors, and we also just have a lot of conversations with them about the reality of today’s workforce. And for many students, we try to emphasize, “It’s not really what you’re majoring in, but what you’re doing with that major.” And so if we can take off some of that weight off their shoulders that, “This is the most important decision you’re ever going to make,” that helps them and really giving them the opportunity to think about what’s coming after graduation, and really helping them to see that the degree is more important than the major in so many instances, and so those skills, those competencies that you’re learning, and what are you going to do with those.

And oftentimes, that really can just see that weight coming up of them, and ultimately, they do need to decide on something. And so sometimes, I’m working with a student for up to three semesters before they decide what they’re going to do. And sometimes, they have it figured out in that first semester and I can offboard them and get them connected to an academic advisor in their college and they’re off running.

Meredith Metsker:

Okay. Yeah. I was glad you mentioned the skills and competencies part of it, because I was just thinking that’s the important part. It’s not necessarily the major, it’s the skills that you learn as a part of the major and then how you apply them.

Amanda Morgan:

Absolutely. And I think for these students, no one’s ever told them that. And so how would they know what they don’t know? And so someone being able to say like, “It’s okay. You can choose a major today and you can change that next semester. It’s okay, you’re going to change careers multiple times after graduation. And so we just want to make sure that you know how to learn, that you know how to problem solve, that you have these good skills underneath you so you can be successful no matter where you go.”

Meredith Metsker:

Yeah. I was just thinking too on that a similar note, you all have the labor market data, the Labor Market Insights module on your uConnect platform, right?

Amanda Morgan:

Absolutely. Yeah.

Meredith Metsker:

Okay. I’m guessing the students probably use that quite a bit, especially in terms of looking up those top most in-demand skills, who’s hiring for and what job titles are associated with them, how much they pay, all of that good stuff.

Amanda Morgan:

That is probably one of our students’ most favorite tools, when we’re able to have them work through that. And I think because it’s so interactive, they really get to sit down and play with things, and plug in different scenarios in terms of job titles, or where they want to live. It’s a good opportunity for us to help them understand cost of living and how salaries for the same exact job are going to be different depending on where they choose to live or where they might be positioned, and being able to give them that real-time data is so helpful. Because we can say whatever we’re going to say until we’re blue in the face, but being able to actually show them the data, I think, is really helpful. And sometimes, it’s having a conversation with a student about, “Oh, my parents really don’t want me to go in this direction because they don’t think this might be a good financial move for me.” “Okay, well, what does that mean? Let’s pull this up and let’s look at what your opportunities could be.”

The other reason why I really like the Labor Market Insights tool, especially for this population, is I really like to show them the education level needed. We’re a four-year university, we’re not a technical school by any means… Sorry, I don’t know if you can hear that

Meredith Metsker:

A little bit.

Amanda Morgan:

I can restart that, but one of my favorite parts of the Labor Market Insights tool, especially for exploring students, is the education level component. Because sometimes, I’ll have a student come in and, “Ultimately, what are your goals?” And they might say, “I want to be an X-ray tech.” And I’m like, “Okay, well, let’s talk about what that means.” And we show them on the Labor Market Insights tool that maybe they don’t need a four-year degree to do that. And so for us, it’s like, “Okay, so what is your purpose for being at Washington State University? What’s your purpose for being at a four-year university? And you can still be an X-ray tech, let’s think about some other opportunities for you to pursue that.” I apologize, that is really loud.

Meredith Metsker:

That’s okay.

Amanda Morgan:

I don’t know how loud it’s on your end, but they just zoom by. But it does allow for students to really re-examine their purpose at a four-year university, and if being an X-ray tech really what they want to do, or is it the health sciences field that they’re much more engaged with, and that’s really a direction that they want to take. So being able to have those realistic conversations with students. And I oftentimes hear from them, “Thank you so much. It’s so good to hear that you’re not pressuring me to stay here,” and having those, “No one’s ever told me that I don’t need to go to a four-year college to be an X-ray tech.” They just haven’t had those conversations, and rarely have I had a student move to a technical or community college based on that conversation. Oftentimes, we are helping them find another purpose, and that’s just one of the career options that they had in their mind. But it allows us to be honest and transparent with the student and gives them the tools to make better informed decisions.

Meredith Metsker:

Okay. Is it just like lots of traffic?

Amanda Morgan:

No, it’s a lawnmower. I’m not quite sure why it’s going right now because it’s so cold out. I don’t think that-

Meredith Metsker:

Maybe they’re trying to get to it before the snow hits or something. That’s funny.

Amanda Morgan:

Maybe they’re trying to pick up the leaves. I don’t know, but-

Meredith Metsker:

That’s fine. So we’ve talked about a couple different ways that you all combine and blend the career advising and the academic advising, but I know that there’s one more. Can you tell me a little bit more about this… I think it was called the Advisor Learning Program, or something like that?

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah, absolutely. So our office, because we’re a joint career in academic advising, our executive director is the executive director of university advising. So she oversees advising for the Washington State University system. And so we actually have someone on our team whose primary job is to provide curriculum for advisor training and onboarding. And so we are fortunate to have that person in our office on our team. And so we’ve really been able to partner with that person to provide a series of trainings for academic advisors outside of our office and provide them the tools and the skillset to be able to have intentional conversations about career readiness and career development. And so we’ve had our employer relations team come and talk to advisors about what employers are looking for. We’ve also been able to give them just better tools about just basic career coaching conversations and how they can incorporate those into academic advising.

And often, many of them already are, they’re already inadvertently having these conversations with their students just by virtue of being academic advisors. Those two things go hand in hand. So often, one of our more popular trainings has been showing them the Labor Market Insights tool. Advisors really love that tool because it also gives them a place to start from in terms of having really intentional conversations with their students. And it gives them some tools that they feel like are really useful, are up-to-date, and really allows them the leverage to have those conversations with students outside of our office, which is really helpful for them. And we oftentimes hear back from the advisor, “Our students love that tool. Thank you so much for sharing that with us and showing us how to work through it.” And so that’s been a tool that’s been really helpful for our academic advisors as well.

Meredith Metsker:

Okay. Yeah, I love this whole tactic because it screams Career Everywhere. It’s training other academic advisors on campus how to have those career conversations, that is a really smart strategy.

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah, and it’s little things. And like I said, I think the biggest takeaway has been that advisors are already having this conversation, so why not really hit the ground running with them and make sure that they have what they need to have conversations that they feel good about, that they feel confident in having with students. And ultimately, at the end of the day, the student’s going to win, if more people that they interact with who are able to give them this information, the better.

Meredith Metsker:

Right. Yeah. And that’s what we’re all here for, student success.

Amanda Morgan:

100%.

Meredith Metsker:

Okay. Great. Well, are there any other strategies that you all use to blend the academic advising and career coaching, or did we touch on most of them?

Amanda Morgan:

I think that’s probably our big ones. Honestly, we’re constantly engaging with our academic community, and we’re just a resource for them generally. And so those are probably the three that we spend our most time with.

Meredith Metsker:

Okay. Great. So I’m curious, in your opinion, what are the benefits of this joint advising and this blending of academic and career advising?

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah. I think naturally, these two conversations go hand in hand, academic advising and career readiness. I was just looking at a NACE report this morning from another meeting, and I want to say it was like 50% of career centers really see academic advising and career services as two different entities. And I can see why, depending on university structure, but I think here at Washington State University, we really see those two conversations going hand in hand. Because oftentimes, students are pursuing a specific academic plan because of the career that they’d like to see themselves in after graduation. And sometimes, that could mean that the student’s going off to graduate school, obviously, or maybe they’re doing professional school, or they’re going to go into entrepreneurship, there’s lots of different routes that a student can take. But I will say, oftentimes, their academic journey to get there is vitally important, and the person helping them navigate that journey is oftentimes their academic advisors.

So being able to really think of those two things as integrated, and ensuring that our academic advising community has the tools to really be confident in those conversations is really important. I’ve also found, within the colleges, oftentimes, our advisors are really in tune with what’s happening within their college. And so if there’s an advisory board that has external stakeholders, and that could be possible employers, they’re really in tune with what’s happening within their college, and they oftentimes know a lot more than they give themselves credit for when it comes to career engagement and career readiness. And so being able to say, “You’ve got this. You have all the tools, you’ve already been having these conversations, let’s just be a little more intentional about it,” is really, I think… it’s just a win-win. Everyone feels good about that. It’s low-hanging fruit, quite honestly, and we’re all working toward the same goal when you really think about it.

Meredith Metsker:

Right. Yeah. And it’s like you were saying the academic advisors are some of the folks that students regularly see and will regularly see throughout their college journey, so why not give them the resources they need to have those career-related conversations?

Amanda Morgan:

Absolutely. And at orientation, we’re able to connect with students, and we were, this last summer, able to do a presentation with parents as well, which was really helpful. But really framing the academic advisor as a mentor, as someone who they should be networking with, even outside of those academic advising conversations like, “This is an advocate for you, and oftentimes, it’s going to be the person that is writing letters of recommendation or is going to be a reference for you in the future.” So all of those things are very career-related to me. And so helping the student, and parents, and families understand that the academic advisor, and faculty and staff for that matter, are the students’ network. They’re starting to engage in building out their own personal network from the moment they step on campus, and really thinking about those humans as people who want to see them succeed. And the more you engage and the more you have contact with those folks, the better outcomes you’re going to have.

Meredith Metsker:

Right. And ultimately, you get students thinking about their career early and often. That’s the goal.

Amanda Morgan:

Absolutely.

Meredith Metsker:

Okay. So I am curious, how is this setup different from other institutions and other career centers?

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah. I imagine that a lot of career centers across who are listening to this podcast are probably already engaging with academic advisors. So I’m not sure if that part is different, but I would say, the fact that our career staff in our office have advising loads, we have advisees that we see in addition to standard career development appointments, really allows us to engage students in a different way, and really allows us to be really intentional with those conversations. And I think a lot of career advisors will find a lot of similarity in academic advising. There’s just so much overlap when you really think about it. And so I think that’s the part that’s different, is that we really are integrated within our office, and we do both. We’re the best of both worlds with academic advising, academic success, and then also the career readiness and career development. We get to see both sides of that.

And I’ll say it can be overwhelming at times. There are times in the year where our team has just so much going on because we are really straddling both worlds. But I think at the end of the day, it really works for us right now with where we’re at.

Meredith Metsker:

Right. And I was just thinking too, that I imagine because you are also doing this academic advising for the undecided students, it really helps you keep a finger on the pulse of what’s going on with today’s students.

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah, absolutely. And hearing from them from their first semester… and they could be transfer students too. So we do see some transfer students come to us that’s not our largest population, mostly it’s first time, first year students, but it allows us to sense where they’re at, how they’re feeling, what’s going on, and it gives us some insight to how they’re doing academically and to really get into a more holistic point of the student. So we get to hear all about their successes and where they’re struggling. We also are at that point of contact for students if they’re trying to navigate something beyond academics, if they’re having a hard time with their roommates, sometimes that’ll come up in conversations, so we’re helping them with those conversations as well. And so we really, I think, have the opportunity to engage students in a really holistic way that’s really fun and unique. And it’s fun to see students progress from their first time working with us through moving into their college or department and then seeing them graduate, which is great.

Meredith Metsker:

Okay. That’s a nice segue to my next question, which is, what results or student success stories have you seen using this blended model that combines academic and career advising?

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah. So anecdotally, it’s always a win for us when we’re able to hand the student off confidently to a college department where the student’s ready, they know what they need to do, and they’re excited about their next step. So that’s always fun. But I’d say, the biggest success for me is when those students come back, and when they’re like, “I’m not here for academic advising, but now, I’d really love for you to help me apply for this job,” or, “Do you mind reviewing my resume with me?” And so having them come back for those career related conversations, because we’ve already established that relationship with them from the beginning, is always great. Because it’s just good to see them back again in different context, and to hear how they’re doing, and the different experiences that they’ve had. So that’s always a big win, I’d say.

And then I will just throw in, prior to the pandemic, so this is a little bit old but I do think it’s still valuable, is our office did a study on the students that were taking University 100 with their academic advisor, and they found a significant enough difference in the retention of the students who took that University 100 course, that we have found it to be something that we want to continue doing. And we’re really committed to providing that course. And the big thing for us is ensuring that students are grouped with their academic advisors. That was the biggest takeaway from that study, is students really found that to be helpful, it provided the community and also gave them someone that they could tangibly go to. So it really helped them make that connection as they’re transitioning to the university and figuring out what they want to do next. And so that’s something that we are really proud of and we want to continue doing.

Meredith Metsker:

Okay. So to clarify it, you found that students who took the University 100 course were more likely to stay at WSU than those who didn’t?

Amanda Morgan:

Correct.

Meredith Metsker:

Am I understanding that?

Amanda Morgan:

Yes. Sorry, I wasn’t clear. They had a higher retention rate than those that did not. And so that was a big win for us and something that we want to continue with.

Meredith Metsker:

Yeah, that makes sense. If you’re an undecided student and you’re still exploring what you want to do, if you have some guidance and some help, I imagine it’s far more motivating to stay in school than if you’re just floating around, trying your hardest, but you don’t know exactly what to do next.

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah. Absolutely. Being able to have those guided conversations is always, I think, reassuring to students, there’s always someone in their corner rooting them on.

Meredith Metsker:

Right. Yeah. That they can talk to you about anything, as you were saying, whether it’s roommate issues, or figuring out what they want to major in, or what they want to do with their career and their life, it’s nice to have one person that you can go to for that that you trust.

Amanda Morgan:

Absolutely.

Meredith Metsker:

Okay. So I’m curious, Amanda, what advice would you have for other career services leaders who want to either work more career guidance into the academic advising process or maybe vice versa?

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah, I would say, if you haven’t already started conversations with your academic advising community, that is 100% the first step. And I think that you would be pleasantly surprised at how many advisors want to have these conversations are hungry for this information and data. And also, it gives us as career professionals the opportunity to really help them be confident in those conversations. And so sometimes, I think, there’s this sense that I can’t have those career-related conversations because I’m not the career center. And so really giving people, I don’t want to say permission, but that permission and excitement about, “You are already probably doing this, and so let’s talk about how we can be more intentional in these conversations.” And maybe it’s just a matter of having shared language in terms of career competencies. That could be it.

I will also say, if you have an advising community, there’s probably a level of training that goes into that. So being able to be in a newsletter, or be in a training series is great, and being able to really bridge those two areas, I think is probably a lot easier than people… I think that it is.

Meredith Metsker:

Okay. It makes me think of a question. Going back to this joint advising training that you do with the general advisors across campus, is that a requirement for them or is it optional? How does that work?

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah. So it’s optional. Like most things, we don’t really require a ton of things from our professional staff because we know there’s a lot of required components just by virtue of being a staff member. But I will say, we actually have a lot of advisors who are really eager for this information, they’re really connected to it, they understand why it’s important. And I think because they see us as advisors alongside them, we’re in the trenches and orientation alongside them, we’re helping them out, they’re helping us out. It’s very much a collaborative experience. And so I think, oftentimes, that helps break down some barriers too, it’s like the more often they see you, the more you can be engaged with them. So don’t be afraid to invite yourself to that advising forum, or those advising training series. Just offer your services, because I think, sometimes, advisors may not recognize or realize that there are opportunities for these conversations.

Meredith Metsker:

Okay. And remind me, is this one annual training, or is this an ongoing set of trainings every few months? How does that work?

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah. So we try to do multiple trainings throughout the year, so it’s an ongoing process. And like most positions on campus, our advising community is an ever-revolving door, as people move up or they move into other areas. And so there’s a constant influx of new advisors. And so I feel like there’s always an opportunity to engage our advising community even beyond those who have heard our content before. We’ve also had more senior advisors come in and maybe they didn’t have a chance to do the training prior, and this is their opportunity, they have the time now, or something’s changed, or they feel more confident in their academic advising conversations. So now, they’re able to build in more of the career conversations. And so I feel like it’s always influx, and we have a mixture of more seasoned advisors and new advisors. So it really is across the board.

One of the cool things I forgot to mention before is we’re actually working on importing our Handshake notes, so we’re a Handshake school, into the advising notes. And so this is the central hub for advisors, it’s where they put all their notes. And so as they are engaging with students, they can see, “Oh, the student met with a career advisor in this career center.” So the intention is, it’ll give them some insight to, is the student engaging with career conversations outside of their own conversations? And that can either allow them to encourage a student to visit the career center, and or allows them to have those conversations with students. So it allows us to really open up those doors of communication, and again, break down that barrier between career services and academic advising, is ultimately the goal. And so I feel like the more information we can give our advising community, the better equipped they are to have more intentional conversations with their students.

Meredith Metsker:

Okay. That’s really cool.

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah. Advisors are pretty excited about it. So we’re still working out some of the final kinks to that, but as soon as we do, hopefully, we’ll have that up here in the next month or two.

Meredith Metsker:

That’s super exciting. Again, it’s just more of that same information sharing just so that everybody on campus is involved in the career conversation.

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah, absolutely, and that’s it for us. We’re a small office when it comes to career professionals, and so any way that we can engage others in helping us is a win.

Meredith Metsker:

Yeah. Well, it sounds like you all are being very creative in how you engage others on campus, so kudos to you.

Amanda Morgan:

Thank you. We try.

Meredith Metsker:

Well, I do want to be mindful of our time, so I’ll just start wrapping us up. But Amanda, is there anything else about our topic today that you would like to add that we haven’t covered?

Amanda Morgan:

No, I just think the advising community is amazing. They are, at least at our community, they’re typically the first line of contact. And anytime there’s anything that’s needed with the university, like, “Oh, the academic advisors can do that.” And so I do want to stress that by no means are amazing, add more to our advising community. And it’s not really about adding more, but it’s really about helping them understand that they’re already having these conversations. And so how do we capitalize on that? And it’s not really doing more to just recognizing that you’re already doing this work.

Meredith Metsker:

Right. And giving them the resource to do it even better than maybe they’re already doing it.

Amanda Morgan:

Absolutely. Yeah.

Meredith Metsker:

Okay. Great. Well, if anyone would like to connect with you to learn more from you, or ask more questions about this topic, where’s a good place for them to do that?

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah, I would say, LinkedIn is probably the best place right now. Go ahead and send me a message, would love to connect with you. You can also email me at a.morgan@wsu.edu. Would love to hear from you. And if anyone else is doing this work, would love to connect and hear ways that others are doing and engaging academic advisors.

Meredith Metsker:

Awesome. Great. And for those who are watching or listening, I’ll be sure to include a link to Amanda’s LinkedIn profile and then her email address as well, so you can reach out to her there. All right. So Amanda, at the end of every episode, I like to do this answer a question and leave a question thing. So I’ll ask you a question that our last guest left for you, and then you will leave one for the next guest. So our last guest were Kelli Smith and Lexie Avery of Binghamton University, and they left this question for you, “What is the most funny or unexpected interview question you have ever received?”

Amanda Morgan:

So I don’t know if this was funny, but it was unexpected for me. And I do have to preface, this is a very student affairs-heavy office, this is in orientation, and the question was, “If you could have any superpower, what would it be?” And as a student coming into the university landscape, I just always imagined every question is going to be super professional. And so having someone ask me that really caught me off guard, but it also allowed me to just laugh and take a break, and not take myself so seriously, which is always good in an interview. But I will say, one of the things that we did… So in my role in orientation, we used to hire a lot of undergraduate students, and one of my colleagues would ask, “If you could be anything in a Target or Walmart, what would you be and why?”

And I just remember thinking to myself, how would I ever in a million years answer that question myself? But students were so resourceful and creative in their responses to that, that it was just a really good insight to how their brain works. So everything from, “I’d be like a warm fuzzy blanket,” to, “I’d be the shopping cart so I can see what everyone puts in their cart.” And so it was just really good insight.

Meredith Metsker:

That’s a great question. The first thing that popped into my head was a teal-colored KitchenAid, the pretty one that gets picked because it’s colorful.

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah. Yeah. It was so many possibilities. And like I said, the first time I saw that question, I panicked because I don’t know how anyone’s going to answer this question, but their responses were top-notch, I have to say.

Meredith Metsker:

Oh, that’s awesome. That’s a great question. Yeah, you heard it here, folks, if you need another question for your interview, there you go. I was thinking what was the most funny or unexpected interview question I’ve ever received. And it wasn’t really a question, but it was unexpected. There was this one time I applied for a technical writing job, and they made me take a logic test.

Amanda Morgan:

Oh, geez.

Meredith Metsker:

And I did not know that was coming. And I am not the super highly logical person, I’m a more of a creative person. And so I totally bombed this test. Then they made me solve a riddle on a whiteboard in front of them, and I was like, “Oh, my gosh.” And they’re like, “Show us how you’re thinking through this.” And I said, “That’s not how I work, I work in my head, and then I will tell you the answer.” I did not get that job.

Amanda Morgan:

Did you get the job?

Meredith Metsker:

I did not.

Amanda Morgan:

Probably, a good thing.

Meredith Metsker:

Yeah, I think it was a good thing for both parties involved. Yes. But that was my unexpected interview thing.

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah, that would throw me for a loop. Absolutely.

Meredith Metsker:

All right. Well, Amanda, what question would you like to leave for the next guest?

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah. Well, in that same vein of the interview, one of my favorite questions to ask in an interview is, “Professionally, what are you most proud of?” So I would love to ask that to the next person.

Meredith Metsker:

I like that, it’s a good one, makes you reflect a little bit on your career.

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah, no, lets people just talk about how great they are, because I think, sometimes, it’s hard to do that. And so yeah, it’s always my favorite question to ask.

Meredith Metsker:

I love that. I love it. Yeah, give people a chance to brag about themselves for a little bit.

Amanda Morgan:

Absolutely, and with full permission, “Tell me your most proud-

Meredith Metsker:

Like, “Tell me everything that’s great about you right now.”

Amanda Morgan:

Yeah, that’s what I want.

Meredith Metsker:

All right. Great. Well, that’s a great question. I’m excited to hear the answer to that one. And just thank you so much, Amanda, for taking the time to join me on the podcast today. This was such a fun conversation and really cool learning about this unique structure that you all have there at WSU. So thank you so much again.

Amanda Morgan:

Thank you for having me. And it’s always fun to have these conversations.

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