Book by: Kelli K. Smith (Ed.)
Review by: Fanie Zis
Academic and Career Advisor
Whether institutions already have a functioning Career services department in place or are looking to re-structure and enhance programs within the post-secondary institution setting, this book is extremely helpful. The word “Directions” in the title is quite fitting and sums up what the experience of the book is all about: a step-by-step and comprehensive guide to direct post-secondary institutions into developing a modern, functioning career services model and successful department.
The book starts off with an excellent overview and insight into the past, current, and future outlook of career trends as modern services provided focus more on including customized connections and communities and personalized action plans than prescriptions and general, impersonal data and action plans. Particularly interesting is when the book looks at some of the past job duties of career services staff and compares this to what the current job duties and future outlook of these duties are as the needs of students, institutions, and employers within the community change.
Highlighted below are three specific areas that career development professionals and advisees may find particularly useful and which created the basis for a positive book review.
The first highlight is that the book is very up to date and current. The strategic direction for Career services within the post-secondary setting will never be stagnant—there are simply too many factors at play, including environmental, economic, global, technical, and governmental to name a few. This book gives an excellent look at the historical pattern of career services and gives a great understanding of what has been done and tried before, what has worked and hasn’t worked, what is currently in practice and working, and then goes into future trends. The end of the book also gives some insight into exploring global careers and opportunities for students.
The second highlight to appreciate is the different strategies for assessment and review of past and current career services. As no two institutions are alike, what works at one institution might not work at another. This book offers several personal examples of trials and assessments that save the reader a lot of time when it comes to conducting their own institutional assessment for their department. By reading this book, advisees and career development professionals can learn and adopt better ideas of what has been done before and what may or may not work. The authors share personal stories, results from assessments/research findings and case studies, which add a nice personal touch, but also add to the credibility and honesty of the book
The third highlight (although there are more) is that the book suggests that career services form the basis—the center of the post-secondary institution in which everything else circles. This vision and model is quite intriguing and also quite sensible. The reader is provided with methods to help implement this model in higher education. For example, the book highlights the importance of branding the career services department in efforts to gain recognition, not only across departments within the institution, but amongst the community and the outside world.
Overall, the book is laid out clearly and, conveniently, readers do not have to start from page 1 and read the whole way through; they can pick and choose to start on the chapter of their choice and get the information they need quick and clearly.
As a Career Advisor developing a Career Services department for a post-secondary institution, I can say this book is a must-have in your tool-kit!
Strategic Directions for Career Services Within the University Setting (2014). Book by Kelli K. Smith (Ed.). Review by Fanie Zis. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 107 pp., $29.00, (Paperback). ISBN 978-1-119-02384-5