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Career-Engaged Departments Program

Cal State LA Career-Engaged Departments Program

2022 - 2023

Career Engaged Departments


In the wake of the COVID pandemic, many students are now opting out of college. Enrollments are declining (National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, 2022), and the perceived value of a college degree is at an all-time low--especially for Gen Z (ECMC Group, 2022; Fischer, 2022c), the next college-going population in the U.S. Moreover, low-income, minoritized, and first-generation students who do graduate have a tougher time finding a job out of college and earn less than privileged peers (Fischer, 2022b; Manzoni & Streib, 2019).

However, the habits of mind that a college education affords are relevant to professional formation (Fischer, 2022a). Academic departments have a vested interest and opportunity in representing their disciplines to new students-- many of whom say they want to see career pathways articulated for them in college coursework (ECMC Group, 2022).

Is your department interested in becoming Career-Engaged? The Career-Engaged Departments Program is a two-semester long learning community that supports departments to help their students navigate a post-pandemic workforce. Department teams consisting of five to ten faculty members will work together to build “career-engaged” content into selected courses in the major.

All Department faculty are encouraged to apply as a team: Full, Associate, and Assistant Porfessors and especially lecturers

Program Overview

Over the course of the two-semester program, faculty will work as a group to participate in one Intake session, participate in five workshops and complete workshop assignments, participate in post-workshop debrief sessions with the department team, and create/embed three career-relevant deliverables into a course to certify that course as “career engaged."

What is Career Engagement?

In the past decade, many stakeholders, including campuses and employers, have tried codifying career-relevant outcomes (American Association of Colleges and Universities, 2022; National Association of Colleges and Employers, 2021). These sets of knowledge, skills, and dispositions manifest themselves differently in how they apply to student learning. Broadly speaking, career relevant learning cuts across any single discipline and can be developed through intentional curricular experiences, regardless of the content being taught. These competencies anticipate the changing world of work. Moreover, many of these are already being featured in the classroom—but there may be a lack of awareness by students as to how these skills, as they are currently taught, relate to community and workplace settings.

In the wake of the pandemic, the national discussion on professional learning has intensified. The Cal State LA Career-Engaged Departments program uses the NACE 2021 competencies as a springboard for career learning at Cal State LA. The 2021 NACE competencies include:

  • Career and Self-Development
  • Communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • Equity and Inclusion
  • Leadership
  • Professionalism
  • Teamwork
  • Technology

Faculty participating in the series will learn to integrate NACE competencies into their courses in ways that honor the spirit of the discipline while making the connection between college and work explicit.

Program Sponsorship

Career-Engaged Departments programming is funded by Éxito! Building Student Support and Faculty Quality, a US Department of Education Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions (DHSI) grant. The goal of the grant is to improve student outcomes by taking an asset-based and equity-focused approach to student success. The Career-Engaged Departments program is offered through AY 2024-25. For more information about the by Éxito! Building Student Support and Faculty Quality DHSI grant, see the homepage


The Career-Engaged Departments program runs September through May of each year. Look for the call via CETL email. For more information about the Career-Engaged Departments Program, please contact CETL at [email protected]