Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveys employers to determine the professional skills they most value. To help college students translate their work into skills employers covet, the University of South Florida’s (USF) Career Services created an innovative badging program.

During FCAN’s most recent webinar — “Lost in Translation: Helping Students Translate College Experience into Professional Skills Employers Value” — Kathy McDonald, FCAN’s assistant director of network partnerships, and Lynn Chisholm, USF’s director of internships and career readiness, discussed the badging program and how it is helping students demonstrate sought-after skills to earn their first job out of college.

Biggest Takeaway: We Have a Communications Gap, Not a Skills Gap

Students are in fact developing the transferrable skills employers seek in new hires, they are just struggling to translate what they are learning using the language of the workforce.

How USF’s Badging Program Can Help

  • USF took a whole campus approach, bringing in content from faculty, student organizations, and extra-curricular activities to help students see that all of their college experiences contribute to their development of NACE core competency areas
  • USF created the badging program to help students build a workforce vocabulary in the competency areas employers value. By gamifying it, 2nd year students are eager to move through the framework and can earn a Career Management badge that they can then put on their LinkedIn profile.

Moving Through the Framework in 3 Easy Steps

Students work their way through the framework, leveraging critical reflection utilizing 3 modules for each competency:

  1. Learn it: Do they understand what each competency is?
  2. Do it: Students build their experience in each competency area throughout their college experience, which can include study abroad, service learning, clubs, or student government experience.
  3. Show It: Using the STAR-L framework they help to build a “story” for each competency so that they can answer common interview questions that look for examples of a graduate demonstrating the competency.

Additional Webinar Resources

Webinar Recording
Webinar Slides
USF Career Readiness Badging Program: Executive Summary
STAR story template
NACA Career Readiness Fact Sheet
Book Recommendation from guest speaker Lynn Chisholm — Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett

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