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  • Graduate-Level Coaching Program Uses Tech to Extend Reach

    April 02, 2018 | By NACE Staff

    Best Practices
    A graduate student uses technology to connect with her career center.

    TAGS: technology, best practices, coaching, social media, graduate students, nace insights, career development

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals

    The Graduate Career Management Center (GCMC) Online Coaching Program was designed to take graduate students in Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business through a four-week, cohort-based and career-planning process during which they develop actionable career plans to help them execute and achieve their goals.

    “The objective for the program is to leverage Facebook groups along with live coaching, and include pre-recorded video and audio, and PDF-based planning tools in a cohort-based experience made for graduate-level business students,” explains Tanuja Ramchal, who initiated and leads the program.

    Since it launched in January 2018 with 57 students, the GCMC Online Coaching Program is in its second cohort with 115 students. In total, it has served more than 170 students under the guidance of just one career practitioner.

    “Its reach underscores our ability to meet the demand for career coaching from a large number of Zicklin graduate students who otherwise might not be able to engage with the GCMC,” says Fred Burke, GCMC director, the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College.

    “The majority of Zicklin’s graduate students are working professionals who find it difficult to come in person to the GCMC, even though our office offers appointments up to 9 p.m. on certain weekday evenings. We want to ensure that we have career services that are accessible to all of our students. We are reaching a lot of students outside of our office hours through social media.”

    Ramchal says that as individuals with varied years of experience in the professional world, Zicklin graduate students often need career services beyond their basic communications materials such as cover letters, resumes, and LinkedIn profiles.

    “They need coaching-based services that are tailored to where they are in their careers and that address their specific goals,” Ramchal says.

    For the GCMC Online Coaching Program, she created nine pre-recorded videos and downloadable audio files. The videos—by weekly topic—include:

    • Week 1—Start With You
      • Your Offerings
      • Your Goal and Closing the Gap
      • Staying Motivated
    • Week 2—Research
      • Conducting Research
      • Informational Interviews
    • Week 3—Communication
      • Targeting Your Communication
      • Framing Your Story
    • Week 4—Networking
      • Networking
      • Nurturing Your Network

    “As a structured program, the four-week schedule also gives students a completion date for their coaching development, helping to keep them on track, actively participate, and stay with the curriculum as it rolls out,” Ramchal says.

    Once classes are available to students, they are followed by live coaching each week moderated by Ramchal. These sessions give students the opportunity to ask questions and receive guidance.

    The GCMC created PDFs to accompany each class to help students set goals and establish plans for research, networking, and professional development. Content focuses on higher-level coaching topics, from students understanding their values and developing their personal brand to them nurturing relationships with professionals and using storytelling to communicate effectively. The program houses all materials in one organized and easily accessible resource section area.

    Ramchal and Burke say that the program’s structure and platform fosters a supportive community of students through their participation and posts in the Facebook group. Over the past two cohorts, there have been more than 3,000 posts, comments, and reactions from members through coaching, sharing, and helping each other.

    “Students also share their wins and challenges in the group as a way to celebrate progress and receive guidance on the gaps,” Ramchal says.

    “Daily content in the form of student success stories, questions, and tips help keep the cohort on track and engaged. Because the GCMC Online Coaching Program caters to students at different career-development levels, they help each other by responding to posts, making individuals feel less isolated in their challenges, and allowing a forum to celebrate its wins as a group as they build networks with each other. This is one of the most important parts of attending graduate business school.”

    The number of students served by the program is sure to grow quickly as other departments within the Zicklin School of Business have approached the GCMC to launch similar online coaching programs for their students. Burke says the program is ready made for this because it is adaptable and scalable.

    “Because the program is virtual,” Burke says, “the capacity and reach are unlimited.”

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