UVA Career Services Works to Improve Students' "Hireability"

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It's one thing to get a college education and quite another to get a job with that degree. Now, the University of Virginia is trying to better connect students with the real world that will be waiting for them once they've graduated.

It's estimated that 54 percent of college graduates under the age of 25 are either under- or unemployed. UVA is hoping to help students have a broader perspective of where their skills can work despite their majors.

More than 5,000 students walk through the doors of UVA's Career Services department trying to figure out how to enter the world of work.

“Students come here with any variety of needs from, ‘I'm not sure what to major in’ to ‘help me with my resume’ to ‘I know what I want, but I'm not exactly sure how to get there,’” said Kate Melton, assistant director of experiential learning at UVA Career Services.

Constructing a plan on "how to get there" comes with its challenges for the simple fact that each student has different needs.

In the professional schools such as McIntire or Darden, 98 percent are placed in their first job within three months.

“But the challenge for liberal arts students is significant. They need to learn how to transfer what they have learned academically into the skills and competencies into what employers are looking for,” said Everette Fortner, special assistant for career development at UVA Career Services.

The department is in the process of launching "The Next Generation Career Services." It will include developing what's called “career clusters” to provide students specific resources based on their skills and interests - not relying so much on majors. There will also be an internship portal.

The initiative includes upgrading the Career Services website and incorporating mobile apps.

“What if we had a hireability app and kind of like students do on LinkedIn, you can go in and perhaps answer a few questions and it gives you a hireability score. Say you're 70 percent and then it gives you four things you could do next to improve your score,” said Fortner.

Another part of the initiative focuses on connecting employment resources from individual schools.

Funding for the Next Generation Career Services is still in the works. It's expected that some enhancements will be implemented in the fall.

A conference called "Leaving the Lawn" will take place later this month to connect fourth-year UVA students with recruiters and employers from different industries.

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