New program tracks student involvement

By Jillian Poland

Staff Writer

The new Co-Curricular Involvement Record (CIR) aims to give students an advantage when applying for jobs, according to Dawn Ross, director of Career Services.

The CIR is intended to track a student’s involvement on campus so these experiences can be easily reviewed and articulated when preparing resumes and interviewing for jobs.

A student’s CIR can be accessed through a software module that was added to CollegiateLink, an online portal already used to manage club memberships and applications.

According to Rachel Lucking, assistant dean for Campus Engagement and coordinator of the CIR, the additional software allows students to work on a targeted “Six Areas of Focus” through the Experiences tool on CollegiateLink and to utilize the Curriculum tool  geared toward skill development. The software automatically updates the CIR with club officer and membership details.

Soon, the CIR will be able to track attendance at events by swiping ID cards, which has been tested at campus events. This feature has the “potential for not only rewarding student participation in programs and events, but also showing us some meaningful metrics about student engagement on campus,” said Lucking.

The “Six Areas of Focus” the program highlights are enrichment, leadership, involvement, service and civic engagement, on campus employment and academic, leadership and service awards.

The areas of focus are meant to help students think about their involvement in terms of applicable skills.

Ross said the CIR is “a mechanism that will be able to help students articulate the skills and experiences that they gain through their co-curricular involvement.”

The purchase of the new software, tied to FSU’s existing license with CollegiateLink, initially cost $3,000. The price goes up incrementally each year, according to Lucking. This year, the add-on software cost $4,160.

Lucking has been researching the best way to implement the program since hosting an employer round table with Ross and Career Services in fall of 2014, said
Lucking.

“We learned that employers were most interested in students improving their ability to speak more effectively about their campus experiences,” said Lucking in an email.   

Lucking used the spring of 2015 to collect information about similar programs at other colleges and universities.

In November of 2015, CollegiateLink was updated to include the Involvement Record and Curriculum tool. At the same time, Lucking participated in a software training program provided by the vendor, Campus Labs, to teach users how to set up the program for their particular uses.

Lucking tested the software this spring with three pilot groups.

“Observing and speaking with those students about their experiences was helpful in determining future training strategies,” Lucking said.

Lucking is currently working on strategies to get more students enrolled on CollegiateLink, since access to the site is required to use the CIR. To further this goal, Lucking has worked within smaller groups, such as the Black and Gold Beginnings leaders and Resident Assistants, to share information about the new resource.

“It is important to understand that the CIR is one piece of a larger puzzle within CollegiateLink. All of the tools within CollegiateLink are interconnected and feed information to the CIR,” said Lucking.

There are five pilot groups of students using the software this semester.

“Not only does [the pilot group] continue to expand the use of CollegiateLink, it also gives us valuable feedback on the user experience within the software,” said Lucking.

According to Ross, there will be future development on the system. Lucking and Ross are working to develop a Curriculum within the software tied to the “soft skills” identified by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

Soft skills focus on personal competencies, including skills such as leadership, critical thinking and career management. The opposing “hard skills” focus on more technical training in a field of work.

The NACE Career Readiness Task Force claims employers are looking for students who have a mix of 85 percent soft skills and 15 percent hard skills. The soft skills Curriculum would help students consider their involvements in terms of the specific skills employers are seeking.

Senior Allie Carroll, who was enrolled in the pilot user group this spring, said in an email, “I think the CIR is a great tool to translate the FSU involvement lingo into real world competencies.

“A lot of the time, students think that all of the education they receive from FSU is in the classroom, and the CIR provides documentation that makes it easy to realize how much you can learn from co-curricular involvement as well,” added Carroll.

Sophomore Nada Shaaban said, “I think that for us young folk just starting off in the professional field, this is something to help us create a solid resume. We don’t always realize the skills that our co-curricular activities give us can apply to a future career.”

Ross said, “The CIR provides another way for students to realize how they add value to a company.”

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