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), now the college-going population in the U.S. Moreover, racially marginalized 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). How do we make college relevant to our students' cherished career goals? How can a sense of belonging and relevance in the classroom influence students' professional formation?

We know that 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 Cal State LA academic department interested in becoming Career-Engaged? The Career-Engaged Departments Program—the first of its kind in the country—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, Assistant Professors, and especially lecturers.

Program Overview

Over the course of the two-semester program, a team of department faculty will work together 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.

Career-Engaged Departments Workshops

Over the course of the program, department teams will participate in five workshops in the Career Engaged Teaching series. Following the live workshop sessions, faculty will complete and submit workshop deliverable assignments. The workshops include:

  1. Teaching with the Future in Mind: Introduction to Career Readiness Pedagogy
  2. Career-Engaged Learning: Translation-Focused Teaching
  3. Translation-focused Teaching: Problem-solving in the Discipline
  4. Group Work is Professional Practice or Reading and Writing for Career Relevancy
  5. Supporting BIPOC students in Career Relevant Courses

For workshop four, department teams can choose between the two electives, selecting the topic that most relates to the assignments in their chosen course. Workshops will run multiple times throughout the program.

Career-Engaged Departments Program FAQ

What Is The Chair’s Involvement? Does The Department Chair Submit The Application?

This is a department initiative and the department chair’s input is important. Although the chair is not required to be part of the faculty team, the chair is encouraged to facilitate conversations at the department level about career engagement in curriculum. The chair is encouraged to forward program information to faculty members, including lecturers, and to help assemble the team. Chairs and/or dept members are encouraged to identify their team before submitting the application. Any faculty member from the department may submit the online application, provided all team members are named. Faculty who submit single applications will be referred back to the Chair for clarification.

Who Should Be On The Department Team?

The team may consist of a mix of Full, Associate, and Assistant Professors, as well as lecturers involved in teaching all levels of the undergraduate curriculum. A minimum of five (5) and up to 10 faculty from a department may participate—including those who teach multi-section GE courses.

What If My Department Is Small? Can We Still Participate?

Small departments are absolutely encouraged to apply to the program. We will consider a proportional number of faculty relative to department size.

Which Courses Qualify For This Program?

One goal of the Engaged Department course is to work on the courses that will reach the greatest numbers of students—commonly taught, lower division courses as well as those required of the major. Faculty must nominate a minimum of three courses, including one lower-division General Education (GE) course and at least one required course in the major.  Although the work in the program is focused on specific courses, the broader goal of the initiative is to facilitate conversations that may result in more broader changes that can help students understand how their coursework prepares them for their future.

Can Faculty On The Department Team Work On Different Courses?

Yes! Members of the team are encouraged to teach and revise different courses. The department team will work together to create three career-engaged deliverables for the nominated course(s), and these deliverables can serve as templates for faculty to incorporate into other courses that they teach. 

Can Faculty Complete The Program Individually? Do They Get To Complete The Series If They're Not Part Of The Team?

Participation in the Career-Engaged Departments Program requires a department team of a minimum of five (maximum of ten) faculty members. If individual faculty members apply to the program, then the program team will follow-up with the Department Chair. 

What If A Faculty Member Completed The Two-Webinar Pilot Last Spring?

(Forward thinking) instructors who participated in the 2022 spring pilot have two options: they may join the department team and complete the series OR they may earn a certificate on their own. Only faculty who participate with a department team are eligible to earn the team payment.

Do Faculty Need To Take Workshops In The Program That They Have Previously Taken?

Faculty who completed Workshops 1 and 2 piloted during AY 2021-2022 do not need to take the workshops again. However, we highly encourage faculty to attend the workshops again so that they receive updated workshop content and so that the material is fresh in their minds as they collaborate with their department team. 

Do Faculty Participants Receive Payment?

The Department team earns the stipend. Each member of the Department team who completes all program requirements will receive $750 for their work at the end of the program.

How Can The Department Team Communicate With The Program Facilitators?

To support faculty in completing this program, Dr. Marla Parker and Dr. Tanya Sanabria hold weekly office hours. Dr. Parker holds office hours Thursdays from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, and Dr. Sanabria holds office hours Wednesdays from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm in the CETL Virtual Support Room. You can also schedule an appointment with them by emailing us at [email protected]  Faculty who are not part of the program can also utilize office hours to get feedback or ideas on career readiness classroom assignments, pedagogy, or tools (e.g., curriculum map, syllabus).

What Happens If I Miss One Of The Workshops?

The Career-Engaged Departments Program requires attendance at five workshops and completion of their deliverable assignments post-workshop. The workshops are each offered three times, at a variety of dates, during the program's duration. Because workshops feature active learning, faculty must attend workshops when they are offered, are not able to make up missed workshops, and must complete all workshops in order to submit deliverables. Department teams are highly encouraged to schedule their workshops upon acceptance into the program so that all team members know when they are able to attend the workshop offerings. Current workshop times are found in the Qualtrics application survey.

What Will The Department Team Do? What Will The Faculty Do?

Department teams should collectively decide on membership (up to ten faculty) and include those faculty who regularly teach lower-division GE and required courses in the major. Teams should decide ahead of time the courses they will select. At least one lower division GE and two required courses in the major must be selected. Each participating team member then attends five (5) CETL online workshops; workshops 1 and 2 in Fall, and workshops 3, 4/5 (pick one elective), and 6 in Spring.  Each workshop has a short deliverable associated that faculty will use to build their classroom materials.

Faculty who each complete five workshops and their deliverables must submit three deliverables for the course they selected to receive payment: 1) A Canvas course rationale that tells students how the course will help them develop professionally, and why the course matters for future work; 2) a short, classroom routine students will practice regularly that will develop a habit of mind relevant to course outcomes; and, 3) a transparent course assignment that helps students build their job crafting skills. 

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]