Students, counselors, faculty, and community partners at Maryland’s Montgomery College have embraced Career Coach. This is largely because the tool has helped illuminate the connections between the college’s programs and local careers. But that’s not the only reason.
EMSI CASE STUDY (Full Archive)
Providing a Clear Career Focus
Montgomery College has nearly 60,000 students on its three suburban Maryland campuses and through its Workforce Development & Continuing Education (WD&CE) program. The college has a huge reach in Montgomery County and the Washington, D.C. metro area, with dozens of programs and offerings, but it hasn’t always been easy for MC counselors and faculty to help students visualize the education they need to land a solid career.
That started to change last fall, when MC put Career Coach – EMSI’s publicly available career exploration tool – on the front page of its website (see the above image).
Career Coach has helped MC market its credit and non-credit programs, enhance its career and academic counseling, and attract a full spectrum of potential students – from high schoolers to retirees. Above all, though, the tool has given students and college staff insight on the clear links between MC’s offerings and the careers available in the region.
Juan Serrano, a Montgomery College student and a customer service representative for WD&CE, said Career Coach helped him “find information about my career.”
“The key value and biggest strength of Career Coach is the ability to provide students, counselors, and the general public with clear educational pathways between our institutional offerings and occupations within the region,” said Kevin Long, the college’s senior planning and policy analyst. “Including both credit and non-credit programs has allowed us to bridge the gap between the two and offer a more integrated approach to career planning.”
Assisting Workforce Development & Continuing Ed Staff
The non-credit programs that Long (pictured to the right) mentioned are part of Montgomery College’s Workforce Development & Continuing Education program, which works to meet employers’ specific needs with customized training, as well as helping those looking to reenter the workforce or polish their skills. Once MC informally launched Career Coach (a formal launch is set for fall 2013), Long said WD&CE immediately saw how the tool was going to help market non-credit programs.
But that’s not the only benefit Career Coach has offered to WD&CE staff.
Using the tool has also allowed “Workforce and Continuing Education to respond rapidly to emerging occupational needs within the county, align its offerings, and market those programs using real-time data,” Long said.
On a more basic level, Career Coach helps students who are trying to map out where they want to go with their career and, by extension, what courses they need to take. If their first job search isn’t appealing, Career Coach gives them similar careers to consider, a step that is usually crucial in setting their career goals.
In a college-produced video about Career Coach, Kenneth Nelson, director of business & community for WD&CE, described the value of Career Coach this way: “Some students will be able to look at that particular tool, find out that not only the job that they’re seeking is one job, but they can also see other job opportunities. And when they look at those other job opportunities, it really gives them a lot of hope and energy to continue with their studies and do well in the jobs they will get.”
At the 2012 Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area Job Clubs Symposium, sponsored by the Department of Labor’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Montgomery College mentioned Career Coach as a resource tool for community employment services. In addition, the U.S. Department of Labor has a direct link for those seeking more academic and career information (see here).
Attracting High School Students and Retirees
Montgomery College is also taking part in a new program called Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success, or ACES. The college has come together with Montgomery County Public Schools and the Universities at Shady Grove – a campus community of nine state universities in the county – to provide “a seamless transition from high school to Montgomery College to our universities,” Long said.
As part of the program, MC is putting coaches into high schools, and the college plans to provide training to its coaches on how to use Career Coach with students. The tool will help show students the different careers available in the county depending on the educational path they take. “We want to provide a very clear pathway all the way through high school, all the way through the four-year degree,” Long said. “Shady Grove also has various master’s programs there, [so] they can do a complete pathway all the way to a master’s degree.”
MC is also reaching out to Montgomery County residents who are at or near retirement age. WD&CE staff members have done various community presentations to this 50-and-over segment of the population who might need to find a new job. The goal, Long said, is “to target the whole continuum — from high school to the retiree.”
Next Steps: An Awareness Blitz, Integrating Analyst and Career Coach, and More
Nearly 7,000 visitors have spent time on Montgomery College’s Career Coach site since the informal launch, and MC is hoping to make a bigger splash with the formal launch in fall 2013.
“Career Coach has given us a great start to raising the visibility of the full array of the college’s programs and a means to leverage those programs and services to meet local workforce training and educational needs.” — Kevin Long, Montgomery College
Before then, Long is working with the college’s faculty to fine-tune the linkages between MC programs and the careers presented in the tool. The college will also do an internal Career Coach campaign during what it calls “professional week,” when faculty and staff come back the week before the semester starts. Long’s goal is to have academic and career counselors – as well as ACES coaches – trained on the tool before the semester starts. This will be in conjunction with a major media blitz to raise awareness of the tool, and an effort to have tables with laptops set up on each of its three campuses so students can demo Career Coach.
In addition, Long hopes to include local labor market data from EMSI’s Analyst, which he displays on an environmental scanning website, on the college’s Career Coach landing page. The additional data will help give information to prospective and current students on the occupations they’re interested in.
Said Long in conclusion, “Career Coach has given us a great start to raising the visibility of the full array of the college’s programs and a means to leverage those programs and services to meet local workforce training and educational needs.”
The following video, produced by Montgomery College, illustrates how MC has applied Career Coach in various settings:
Emsi turns labor market data into useful information that helps organizations understand the connection between economies, people, and work. Using sound economic principles and good data, we build user-friendly services that help educational institutions, workforce planners, and regional developers (such as WIBs, EDOs, chambers, utilities) build a better workforce and improve the economic conditions in their regions. For more information, email Josh Wright (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit www.economicmodeling.com.