Just like the dynamic, unpredictable job market, career readiness programs are constantly evolving to meet the needs of students.
Just last year, UNT implemented the Career Readiness First Year Seminar, a required online course for the class of 2026 designed to grow with them as they advance through their college careers. While the course does not affect a student's GPA, it does appear on their transcript.
"That's the cutting-edge piece -- this course is required. And we're being more proactive with our services," says Eileen Buecher, assistant vice president of the UNT Career Center. "Other universities are going this way, but UNT is getting there first. And we're doing it at scale within a large public university."
The seminar consists of five modules: Self Discovery, Career Exploration, Professional Communication Skills, Networking and Professional Relationship Building, as well as a wrap-up called Now What? The Journey Continues. Plans for seminars for students' second year and beyond are well underway.
Buecher joined UNT in 2021, but she's worked in career centers for more than 30 years.
"I was a student worker in the career center at Slippery Rock University in western Pennsylvania, and I fell in love with the work. When I saw the first career library, I started working with students and I was doing really well with the parents and employers, it was like I had natural talents and gifts related to the field. It transformed my life."
UNT's career coaches are equally excited for this course and how it will change a student's journey from academics to the workforce.
"This first-year course, and the second-year course and beyond coming up, that's something different that's not being done at other universities," says Eric Green. "After the course, we have checkpoints with students. The accountability is the game-changer to me."
Just one year into the program, its effects are already being felt. Every student takes a pre- and post-seminar evaluation, and the improvement of passing rate for the post-seminar versus the pre-course evaluation is significant: more than 53%. Student leaders are sharing the impact they're seeing with Career Center staff.
"I've received feedback already that this course is being felt and we're seeing the results," Buecher says. "I didn't know it would take so fast, but it is and it's exciting. That stopped me in my tracks, to hear the voices from students. This is why I do what I do."