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Career Development Toolkit wins national award for technology excellence

Career Services accepting the NACE award

Cornell Career Services, the central career services office at Cornell University, is the college winner of the 2023 National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Award for Technology Excellence for its Career Development Toolkit.

The career development toolkit is a series of modules on Canvas, the university’s learning management system. It was awarded by NACE for excellence in best practices using technology and/or social media outlets.

”We created it with the goal of providing 24/7 accessible career content,” said Jessamyn Perlus, senior associate director with Cornell Career Services. “Through the toolkit, we wanted to level the playing field, so all students and alumni had access to the same quality information – no matter what their major or college or industry of interest was.”

Initially, Perlus said, the office wanted to build career content in one place, infusing career education and theory. Recognizing that students and alumni sometimes find career services to be intimidating, they sought to expand its typical resources to build career confidence by delivering engaging content without students having to “know what to ask.”

In 2020, the shift to virtual services added a sense of urgency to this initiative, Perlus said. Career Services was tasked with creating a comprehensive digital career development resource available that is convenient for students and alumni.

“We wanted to make the toolkit more approachable by including custom games and worksheets that incorporate creative and interactive elements, so students and alumni are led through the resources step-by-step and feel more engaged when interacting with career content,” Perlus said.

The toolkit encompasses a three-stage career developmental process to help students discover how to get the most out of their experience at Cornell and to consider what’s possible within post-college careers. Modules are arranged in a developmental sequence and have expanded to everything from portfolios to specific industries.

“One thing that surprised me with the career development toolkit is how engaged students, alumni and staff became once the modules were published,” Perlus said. “I receive regular requests for new links or enhancements, pages, and even modules people want to add. They're willing to be co-authors, reviewers, and even share their personal stories to help other Cornell students – something we’re really encouraging as real-world examples do enhance the experience.”

The strategy has worked. In its first year, the Career Development Toolkit had 5,100 users and 10 modules. By July 2023, it had 23,700 users leveraging 27 modules, 326 pages, and 109 H5P Games, and 75 authors/reviewers.

Mia Ferraina, Public Service Careers Coach at Career Services, said the Toolkit’s growth because alumni and employer partners have been extremely supportive.

“We have been developing new industry-specific content with their expertise, as well as adding new pages and elements to answer questions we commonly hear from students,” Ferraina said. “We’ve even heard suggestions from professors about content to add because of student questions they didn’t know the answer to.”

Perlus echoes these sentiments and said the “toolkit truly represents collaboration because so many of our campus and alumni partners have been able to contribute their knowledge and their expertise into these modules, which is what makes it so rewarding to have available for our users.”

According to Sehar Mapara ’24, the Career Development Toolkit has been an extremely positive attribute in her career exploration process.

“It provided self-assessment tools that helped me identify my strengths and interests, expanded my knowledge of various industries and job roles, and offered authentic advice on resume writing, interview preparation, and networking,” Mapara said. “The toolkit's emphasis on practicality and action-oriented guidance differentiates it from other resources that I have used in the past. It doesn't just provide theoretical advice; it offers tangible resources, exercises, and strategies to apply in real-world situations.”

The full list of contributors can be seen in the module itself.

The NACE Awards honor members' outstanding achievements in the career services and HR/staffing professions. NACE Excellence Awards are judged on program needs/objectives, content, design, creativity, innovation, measurable outcomes and ease of replication.

NACE is a professional association that connects over 15,400 college career services professionals, university relations and recruiting professionals, and the business solution providers that serve this community.

Cornell students can log on to the Cornell Career Development Toolkit on Canvas with their NetID and credentials. Alumni interested in sharing their expertise can sign up to review on CUVolunteer