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Vision 2020

Stanford's New Model of Meaningful Work


By Farouk Dey, PhD, Dean of Career Education and Associate Vice Provost

Changes in economic conditions, generational trends, and technology as well as feedback from students, alumni, and parents have spurred major paradigm shifts in the delivery of career services in higher education. Stanford’s renewed investment in career services will lead the way in transforming how career centers will support students’ academic success, professional development, and transition from college to career.

Stanford is prioritizing students’ career development by launching a new model that promises to offer specialized career development support to students and connect them to meaningful internship and employment opportunities as well as mentoring and experiential learning. Career education will become a significant element of the student experience rather than a resource that they seek when they approach graduation. Moving from a traditional transactional model of career services, Stanford Career Education will continue to offer career counseling, résumé assistance, and Venture Events (formerly known as career fairs), but will have a stronger emphasis on building connections through partnerships with employers from a variety of sectors, experiential learning, mentoring, and developing career communities of learners and networkers that will serve students and alumni for a lifetime.

New Emphasis on Career Connections and Communities


Based on the recommendations of a steering committee representing diverse groups of stakeholders—including students, faculty, parents, and alumni—the new model of career connections will focus on three key elements:

Design, Connect, Pursue, Venture


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  1. Connections with employers:  in order to diversify internship and employment opportunities for students and alumni, Stanford Career Education is investing in career coaches who have industry expertise and experience to connect students to a wider variety of jobs and internships. These coaches will be responsible for building partnerships with employers from various sectors, including creative arts, social impact, healthcare, energy, sustainability, finance, consulting, technology, and startups. Currently, Stanford offers 16 career fairs and attracts over 10,000 job and internship postings per year. Recent efforts include a partnership with a startup company that specializes in connecting students and alumni with employers. New investments in this area will increase the number and diversity of internship and employment opportunities, particularly for students in humanities, arts, and sciences.
  2. Connections with student and faculty communities: in order to increase specialized support to students, and in partnership with academic advisors, career coaches are assigned to student communities based on their academic majors and degrees. Career coaches will assist students with exploration of career paths and readiness for internships, employment, and further education through individual counseling, career courses, online tools, and career meetups, which are frequent and informal discussion circles about various career topics. Career coaches are also responsible for developing meaningful connections with student groups, faculty, and administrators, and establishing self-supporting lifelong career communities. New investments in this area will allow every student at Stanford to have specialized support from a career coach who is connected to their academic discipline and network of advisors, and understands their concerns and potential career trajectories.
  3. Connections with mentors and experiences: in order to increase students’ learning from experiences and mentors, Stanford Career Education is investing in mentoring, networking, and experiential learning programs. For example, Career Treks for Humanities and Arts are programs that take students on site visits to various companies and organizations to learn about the world of work and connect them with potential recruiters. The Stanford Alumni Mentoring program matches students with alumni mentors based on career interests and fields of study. These programs are receiving more funding and attention and are becoming key elements of the emerging model of career connections. Investments in this area will activate the Stanford network of stakeholders to support the experiential learning and professional development of students and alumni.

Career Outcomes

When the new model of career connections is fully implemented, students will be better equipped for the transition from college to careers because of the connections they will have made, the professional experiences they will have been exposed to, and the support they will have received from career coaches and mentors at Stanford.

This shift in service delivery will also bring new measures and metrics for students’ career engagement, learning, and destination outcomes. Stanford Career Education has begun implementing a net promoter score to measure students’ loyalty and engagement in career communities, and is partnering with Institutional Research, the Registrar’s Office, and the Stanford Alumni Association to begin publishing first destinations and lifelong professional outcomes.

Future Investments

Stanford Career Education plans to hire additional staff to increase support for students, build stronger partnerships with employers, engage more alumni and parent volunteers as mentors, and develop experiential learning opportunities such as career treks and job shadowing. Stanford Career Education also plans to invest in additional support for underrepresented communities, including international, first-generation, LGBTQ, ethnic, and cultural student groups. Plans also include changing the name of the career center, reinventing its communication with stakeholders, and renovating its facilities to properly match the spirit of the new model of career connections.