Cal State LA Career-Engaged Departments Program
2023 - 2024
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 yearlong faculty learning community that takes an equity-minded, critical look at the professional abilities that the workplace will demand from graduates, including problem solving, working in a world where AI is increasingly pervasive, communication with technology, problem diagnosis, and critical reading/writing. Chairs are especially encouraged to participate in and support a team of faculty who will reflect and build professional learning into the classroom.
All Department faculty are encouraged to apply as a team: Chairs, Full, Associate, Assistant Professors, and especially Lecturers.
Over the course of the two-semester program, a team of department faculty will work together to participate in six workshops and complete one individual workshop assignment, participate in two check-in sessions, and create/embed three team-created 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
- Critical Thinking
- Equity and Inclusion
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 six workshops in the Career Engaged Teaching series. Following live workshop sessions, faculty teams will complete one individual and three team workshop deliverable assignments. The workshops include:
- Introduction to Career Ready Learning
- Group Work is Professional Practice
- Teaching using Disciplinary Values
- Problem-solving in the Discipline
- Reading and Writing for Careers
- Considerations for BIPOC Students in Career Relevant Courses
Career-Engaged Departments Program FAQ
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.
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.
Small departments are absolutely encouraged to apply to the program. We will consider a proportional number of faculty relative to department size.
One goal of the program 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 two to four courses, including one lower-division General Education (GE) course. 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.
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 courses, and these deliverables can serve as templates for faculty to incorporate into other courses that they teach.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
To support faculty in completing this program, Dr. Tanya Sanabria will hold weekly office hours. You can also schedule an appointment with her 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).
The Career-Engaged Departments Program requires attendance at six workshops and completion of all deliverable assignments post-workshop. The workshops are each offered multiple 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.
Faculty will collaborate with their colleagues to create three team deliverables for each of the nominated courses 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.
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]
- American Association of College and Universities. (2022). Essential learning outcomes. https://www.aacu.org/trending-topics/essential-learning-outcomes
- ECMC. (2022, May 32). Why Gen Z cares less about getting a 4-year college degree. https://www.ecmcgroup.org/news/group/why-gen-z-cares-less-about-getting-a-4-year-college-degree
- Fischer, K (2022a, March). New pathway from college to career [White Paper]. Chronicle of Higher Education.
- Fischer, K. (2022b, May 5). The uneven climb from college to career. Chronicle of Higher Education. https://www.chronicle.com/article/the-uneven-climb-from-college-to-career
- Fischer, K. (2022c, July 26). Americans' confidence in higher ed drops sharply. Chronicle of Higher Education. https://www.chronicle.com/article/americans-confidence-in-higher-ed-drops-sharply
- Manzoni, A., & Streib, J. (2019). The equalizing power of a college degree for first-generation college students: Disparities across institutions, majors, and achievement levels. Research in Higher Education, 60, 577-605.
- Marcus, J. (2021, September 24). College degree doesn’t pay off as well for first-generation grads. Hechinger Report. https://hechingerreport.org/college-degree-doesnt-pay-off-as-well-for-first-generation-grads/
- National Association of Colleges and Employers. (2021). What is career readiness? https://www.naceweb.org/career-readiness/competencies/career-readiness-defined/
- National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. (2022, May 26). Undergraduate enrollment falls 662,000 students in spring 2022 and 1.4 million during the pandemic. https://www.studentclearinghouse.org/nscblog/undergraduate-enrollment-falls-662000-students-in-spring-2022-and-1-4-million-during-the-pandemic/