Emsi Case Study (See Full Archive)
Summary: Lenoir Community College in Kinston, North Carolina, launched Emsi’s Career Coach in early July 2015. Since then, the web app has received a high number of visits, proving that you don’t have to be a large institution or a long-term user of Career Coach to see major results. Through excellent marketing, Lenoir has tapped into keen interest for Career Coach among not just its own students but also local workforce development boards and local high schools.
Emsi recently interviewed Dr. Deborah Grimes, senior vice president of instruction and student services, on how Lenoir is using Career Coach to guide students to success and prepare a career-ready workforce.
- Lenoir uses Career Coach where they had once visited multiple sites (including Indeed.com) for data on jobs
- Career Coach helps Lenoir’s students “keep their eye on the prize,” motivating them with clear, obtainable goals.
- Lenoir has presented Career Coach to its students, faculty, and staff; high school teachers and students; and workforce boards and conferences, where Career Coach essentially “sells itself.”
Q&A With Deborah Grimes
Emsi: Can you give us a little background about the college?
Deborah Grimes: Our service area is Lenoir, Jones, and Greene counties, but for Career Coach, we expanded a bit to increase the default mile radius. We have a Greene County Center, a Jones County Center, a La Grange Center, a Workforce Development Center in Greene County, and an adult high school and high school equivalency programs: degrees, certificates, skill certificates, diplomas. We also have Lenoir County Early College High School on our main campus, and Greene County Early College High School on our Greene County campus.
In 2013-2014, we had more than 4,000 curriculum students (unduplicated) and about 16,000 continuing education students. Our FTE was about 4,500.
How did you get started with Career Coach?
A few years ago, we used Emsi for a long-range plan—data for high-growth, demand jobs—and this past year we had the community college impact study and university impact study for North Carolina. From that, I talked with Emsi about other things we might want to do, and Career Coach struck my fancy. So I asked our president and he approved.
A lot of our Career Coach clients use Career Coach for one or both of two ways: student recruitment and/or student advising regarding career paths and the programs that students should consider. Do you use it both ways?
Yes, let me tell you what we’ve done. When I received the approval, we sent these little teaser emails to all of our campuses—“Something Big Is Coming”—great little teasers. We did that for three or four days and then launched Career Coach.
The very first day we presented Career Coach to parents and students at Lancer orientation. We also presented it on our professional development day so that not just curriculum staff would see it, but all of our faculty and staff across campus, no matter what.
We presented it at Rotary. We presented it at the East Carolina Workforce Development Board; they want to use it on the website for all of North Carolina and we’re talking about how to connect Career Coach with the community colleges of North Carolina. We’ve been asked to present at the NCWorks’ career pathways conference. (The reason for all this is to demonstrate how Lenoir is connecting employers with highly trained people and show how Career Coach helps with advising.) I’ve also presented Career Coach to teachers, parents, and counselors in each of the Lenoir County public high schools so they can help their students.
“I used to take students to Indeed.com, but now I can show them Career Coach.”
Here at Lenoir, I’ve sent emails to our students, saying, “This is a free tool; it’s free to the community, to parents, for students, anybody in the college.” People might think, “Okay, I’m thinking about being a machinist or a welder, but I don’t really know if there are any jobs,” so we show them. I used to take students to Indeed.com, but now I can show them Career Coach and tell them: “See, this is in real time. It’s live information. It tells you if it was posted two days ago, two hours ago, twenty days ago, two months ago. And it shows qualifications, what kind of training you need.”
So that’s how we’ve gotten the word out. It only takes going through Career Coach and showing people what they can do in one locale.
Could you rank what’s been most effective in getting the word out?
Look, I’m telling you, once we tell people and they see how easy it is to maneuver and how much information is on that one site, Career Coach sells itself. I don’t really know that there’s anything we did besides educate people on everything it could do. I often heard that with Tupperware, you didn’t have to sell it, it would sell itself, you know? I think the same thing about Career Coach. I don’t care where we’ve shown it, there are always 500 questions afterward because people want to know more.
We’ve shown them different ways. We’ve said, “Okay, let’s say you’re interested in pharmacy, let’s say you’re interested in mechanics, let’s say you’re interested in nursing.” I’ve used some real examples in my presentations and I think that helps. For example, we had a student who said, “I want to be in the Associate in Science program because I want to go into nursing, but then I want to go to ECU and be a nurse anesthetist.”
Using that example gives you an extended view of how Career Coach can help. People can see an entry-level nurse, an entry-level, and a medium-level, and a high-level wage for a nurse anesthetist and the information they need for that. Even though it isn’t a degree program that they can get here, they can still see the extension from Lenoir Community College.
“With Tupperware, you didn’t have to sell it, it would sell itself, you know? I think the same thing about Career Coach.”
Then we gave the example of a female student who wanted to be an underwater welder. We gave the example of students (a boyfriend and girlfriend) who entered the Associate in Applied Science accounting program before transferring to ECU. Now they’ve both graduated and they both have great jobs; one works for the City of Kinston and one works for the North Carolina State Employees’ Credit Union.
When students come, I talk them through what they want to do, but now I don’t have to go to East Carolina University’s website because students are concerned with what they have right here, where their future is. I can show them everything about what they can do and how to get there right here on Career Coach. Then they can go to the ECU website and see what the degree programs look like there.
You said that you used to show students Indeed.com, but now all the jobs information is integrated within Career Coach.
Let me tell you why we did that. We would have students who, say, come in for the Associate in Applied Science, but they aren’t college English ready or college math ready so they’re taking these developmental courses to get up to speed—and they’d eventually quit because they’re like, ‘I’m not going to get over to graphics, I’m never going to get to do what I want to do.’ So we rearranged our schedules in order to give the students time to take their developmental courses plus some of these courses they really want to be in.
When they wanted to quit, that’s when we used to show them Indeed.com: “Just hold on. You’ve got to keep your eye on the prize. Here is what you can be making when you finish school. Are you sure you want to quit?” Once we talked about it like that, it spread like wild fire. We even started putting Indeed.com on our PowerPoint presentation so we could tell our counselors, “Don’t let students get out of your office without seeing the prize.”
Well, now, your eye on the prize is Career Coach. Everything we show is Career Coach.
You also mentioned Career Coach providing one location for all of this information. Beforehand, you were going to Indeed.com, but you’d have to visit different sites for different data, so having everything in one location now is very valuable.
Yes, and I’ll tell you what we did on our website. Career Coach is at the front. Academics, Prospective Students, Current Students—they all have Career Coach. Every single program has Career Coach. It’s everywhere.
“Your eye on the prize is Career Coach.”
Our implementation development committee really took that seriously. We got our web design, our marketing person, and our IT person working on it together because we had just redesigned our website and we wanted to make sure Career Coach went along with the new look. It’s perfect.
Sounds like you had good buy-in for Career Coach from your departments from the beginning—or did you have to do some convincing?
Once we showed Career Coach, it was a no-brainer. Everywhere we showed it people have gotten really excited about it. For example, I spoke to our student success class (a required course in general education) that helps transfer students figure out what they need to do here so that they can transfer to a university. It’s also for other students who are going to work or who are just getting the associate and applied science degree; the class orients them to the college.
I showed Career Coach to this class—a group of about 60 students. And you just wouldn’t believe! They were so attentive. I never saw a phone come out. I never saw anything but attention and questions being asked. In fact, one of the instructors came into my office and she could not believe how attentive the students were to this. They’re interested. If they’re interested and it’s easy to get to, then they are absolutely going to use it. (emphasis original)
That’s an impressive feat these days, young people not pulling out a smartphone!
That’s exactly right. That’s how you know you got their attention. In every presentation, we’ve tied it up in a nice little bow by saying, “And here’s how we’re using Career Coach.” And I’m telling you, it brings out question after question and interest after interest. It really blows my mind. Just by talking about it!
“If they’re interested and it’s easy to get to, then they are absolutely going to use it.”
But we don’t just talk about it, we show it. We include the link on our PowerPoint and we go through the different processes on Career Coach—you know, you can do the six-question interest assessment, you can start building your résumé, you can look at the degree programs, you can look by degree, you can look by career, you can look by wage, you can look by prospective vacancies, you can look at retirements, employer listings—so that people know what’s there.
I think that’s what’s sparking the interest in Career Coach. It’s all about presentation.
About Lenoir Community College
Lenoir Community College, a member of the North Carolina Community College System, is a comprehensive two-year public institution. The college offers associate degrees, diplomas, or certificates through educational programs in college transfer, business, industry, public services, health sciences, and continuing education for the intellectual, economic, social, and cultural development of students and the community. Programs and support services are accessible through traditional and distance learning options.
Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. provides comprehensive, user-friendly labor market data that helps educational institutions, workforce planners, and regional developers (such as workforce development boards and economic development organizations) build a better workforce and improve the economic conditions in their regions.