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Midland Career Studio embraces peer-to-peer coaching

Midland Career Studio embraces peer-to-peer coaching

Nov 21st , 2019

Midland University’s career space has a new name, a new look, and a new vision for the future.

Formerly known as the Personal and Career Development Center, Midland’s new Career Studio is implementing a model that Executive Director Connie Kreikemeier believes is going to be beneficial for everyone involved.

Through Midland’s involvement as members of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), Kreikemeier took notice of how some other institutions across the country were changing their approach when it came to career development. “The University of Nevada-Reno instituted a Career Studio program that I thought would be a great model for Midland,” Kreikemeier said. “At that heart of that model is peer-to-peer coaching.”

Peer-to-peer coaching is a program that puts students at the core of working with other students to help develop career paths through teaching and mentoring. Kreikemeier views this new model as a positive step in making the Career Studio even more efficient. “Peer-to-peer coaching will give administration and staff time to do other things, rather than just having one-on-one meetings with students,” Kreikemeier said. “It will give us time to plan and execute new events, nurture relationships with employers, give us opportunities to build out career-related curriculum, and conduct more presentations and workshops. But one of the greatest benefits is that it helps us build leaders at Midland. It’s going to involve hiring, developing, and training a team of career coaches.”

The current model has two students, Chaleigh Mattson and Baylee Snyder, serving as Career Coaches through a work study program. Four more students (Chelsea Bayer, Cailin Brashear, Delaney Brewer, and Matthew Wickwire) will work as Career Coach Interns during the spring 2020 semester. Each of these students will go through an in-depth training process during Interterm at Midland, which will give them expertise and prepare them to work with students on key areas such as résumés, job and internship searches, cover letters, LinkedIn/social media, and CliftonStrengths. The career coaches will also benefit from individual development and group training events.

When defining what Midland is looking for in a peer-to-peer coach, Kreikemeier believes the heart of what will make a coach successful lies within NACE’s list of eight competencies: 

  • Critical Thinking/Problem Solving

  • Oral/Written Communications

  • Teamwork/Collaboration

  • Digital Technology

  • Leadership

  • Professionalism/Work Ethic

  • Career Management

  • Global/Intercultural Fluency

These competencies illustrate what employers want and need of college graduates. “Midland’s new curriculum model addresses the development of these competencies for all students, so we seek career coaches who intentionally work to build their own competencies and who want to help others do the same,” Kreikemeier said. “We want someone who shows career advocacy and leadership. We want them to be involved on campus. We want them excited about their own career path and have the heart to help others develop as professionals.”

The vision of the Career Studio is for the coaches to be able to grow along with the students and work on becoming leaders. Each coach will be involved in a project group of his/her choosing that centers around either alumni and employer relations, marketing, social media, and event planning and execution. “We want our coaches to be leaders. We want them to own and build something that aligns with their career goals,” Kreikemeier said. “Our seniors will also be on a team to select next year’s coaches. They will write ads, recruit, market, and interview, then make their selections based on the criteria. They will be leading the whole process and gaining valuable, hands-on experience.”

Mattson and Snyder have spent the fall semester serving as peer-to-peer coaches and Kreikemeier has been pleased with the early results. “Baylee and Chaleigh are amazing peer coaches. I think the students appreciate being able to come in and talk to another student. One of my favorite things is to see our career coaches mentoring students. To me, this is what this should look like.” she said. “Research shows peer-to-peer learning is very beneficial to students. Other colleges that have implemented this model report very positive outcomes.”

Kreikemeier is optimistic the addition of the peer-to-peer coaches will increase student participation in the Career Studio and the use of its resources. “I think we’re going to see more traffic because it’s going to be more accessible for them. Our goal is to arrange schedules so we have a coach in the studio at all times,” Kreikemeier said. “We’d like to create that culture where students focus on their career goals from their first day on campus. The sooner students come in, the sooner we know about them and their goals. We can connect them to employers, have conversations about résumés, and work with them to develop their career plan. One of our mottos is “Let’s get to work!”

Students will also have a new space to get to work. After sharing space with Campus Ministries, the Career Studio now has an area it can call its own. “We are blessed to have a bigger space to develop the studio model, and also with the recent addition of Career Advisor Lisa Lias to our team. Lisa brings a wealth of higher education and human resources experience and awesome talent to the Career Studio,” Kreikemeier said. “It’s been fun to see more students come in and work with the team. We want to make this a cool, welcoming, hangout spot where they can come in, collaborate, and leave feeling confident and empowered to reach their goals.”