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Embedding Resilience into the Career Process

Over the last few years, institutions have heavily invested in providing resilience support to help students succeed on campus. Resilience supports and resources are typically focused on the first year or through the campus counseling center. Progressive institutions recognize the need to scale resilience support beyond the first year and the counseling center to proactively reach students with the guidance they need.

We spend a lot of energy familiarizing first year students with these concepts, but upperclassmen face an abundance of challenges that require resilience. Right now, we depend on students finding their own help. We need to be more proactive about connecting students with resources.

Vice President of Student Affairs Public Research University

The career process stands out as a time when upperclassman students face a number of challenges that require a high degree of resilience and positive coping skills. Students often need to overcome anxiety surrounding new activities like resume writing, interviewing, or networking. Many students may be coping with rejections or setbacks for the first time, and the consequences of failing in this arena add significant pressure.

Why target the career process?

  • Students experience anxiety when encountering career related tasks for the first time, such as writing a resume or networking professionally
  • Rejections or setbacks during the job search process can be difficult to manage
  • High stakes associated with the career process leave students feeling anxious and stressed and more likely to seek and need support on campus

Enhance existing career process support

Tufts University’s Career Center develops students’ resilience to prepare them to persist through the career process. Tufts targets sophomore students because these students are facing several post grad related decisions for the first time, such as declaring a major or applying for a professional internship. Tufts targets these students with messages and opportunities to learn about resilience and its application to the career process.

There are three ways in which Tufts’ Career Center integrates information about resilience and keeps resilience strategies top of mind: an annual sophomore career summit, a career exploration course, and a handy one pager with quick tips on cultivating resilience.

Annual Career Summit

  • One day conference available to sophomores
  • Featured panel on staying resilient throughout the career searching process led by counseling center clinicians, faculty, and successful alumni
  • Opportunity to explore different industries, network with employers and alumni, learn application strategies

Career Exploration Course

  • Two credit, pass/fail course available to sophomores
  • Course devotes week to resilience led by counseling center clinicians and wellness promotion staff
  • Syllabus includes topics like career development theory, creating effective resumes, and mastering different interview formats

Resilience One Pager
See the Appendix for the full resilience one pager from Tufts University

  • Provides quick tips and strategies for staying resilient
  • Includes a list of campus and external resources for more information or support
  • Used by faculty and staff to hand out to students or incorporate as talking points in interactions
  • Available online and in office

How to Use This Case Study
What Can Institutions Take Away From Tufts’ Approach?

Using this case study for inspiration, consider how your institution can reach students in the midst of career related decisions and processes with messages and strategies to stay resilient. Below are three key lessons learned from Tufts’ approach. Use these lessons and the following discussion questions to begin conversations on embedding resilience support in campus career center services and resources.

  1. Identify Common High-Stress Moments For Upperclassmen to Provide Targeted Resilience Support
    The career process is a prime example of a time of stress and anxiety for students in the middle and upper years during which institutions can help keep resilience top of mind. Tufts focuses on sophomore students, but seniors and graduate students might also benefit from this type of resilience focused support.
  2. Enhance Existing Supports With Coping and Resilience Content
    Tufts’ work demonstrates a way to infuse resilience concepts into existing support structures. Rather that investing in new initiatives, find existing supports that can incorporate resilience skills into services and resources. Existing career events, panel discussions, or online resources can be easily tweaked to include resilience content and information about related campus supports.
  3. Equip Campus Partners With Resilience Support Strategies and Resources
    Advisors, faculty, residence hall assistants, and others encounter students struggling through the career process. Equip them with resilience quick tips to help them support students and connect them with resources to further develop skills to persist. A go to resource, such as Tufts’ resilience one pager, is designed to be easily used by campus partners who frequently interact with students disappointed by career setbacks.

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