Business Career Passport for students maximizes career prospects

June 27, 2017 | Workforce Development

Business students at Simon Fraser University have access to a new kind of passport to help them navigate their entry into the world of work.

Traditionally, post-secondary students find their way to a career centre near the end of their studies, leaving them with a flurry of last-minute self-reflection, writing and preparation prior to graduation.

Simon Fraser University’s Beedie’s School of Business is turning that process around with an innovative approach, the Business Career Passport, designed to get undergraduate business students preparing for their career in their first year.

“The Business Career Passport came together as our Career Management Centre along with some our faculty members believed that career development is an integral part of the Bachelor of Business Administration Program (BBA),” explained Lisa Higashi, Manager for Undergraduate Careers at the Centre in Burnaby, BC. “Our program being very flexible and our campus being primarily commuter based, our career workshops were not seeing the attendance with workshops outside of the classroom. We wanted to move from optional workshops to mandatory career learning for all of our students.”

Hagashi and BBA Career Advisor Yas Azarpajouh presented the challenges and successes of implementing the Business Career Passport project at #BetterTogether2017, held in Vancouver May 28-31.

“Seeking buy-in from faculty began with building connections and relationships with a group of marketing faculty who saw the importance of career development to prepare students for life after graduation. Next was to gain support from administrators to incorporate career learning into core classes that all students will be taking. This led us to working together in a collaborative way to incorporate experiential learning into the classroom which has led us to where we are today” Higashi explained.

Some of the workshops are offered inside the classroom and some outside.

Lisa Higashi is Manager for Undergraduate Careers at the Centre in Burnaby, BC. “Building relationships with faculty and administration has been an important aspect to gain support and traction” for the Business Career Passport program.”

Undergraduate business degree students are required to complete the six workshops in the Business Career Passport prior to graduation:

  • self-assessment
  • job search strategies and career management
  • professional business resumes
  • cover letters
  • interview preparation
  • business and networking etiquette

Some modules are handled within class time while others are completed independently around a student’s schedule.

As of September 2017, Higashi confirmed, “all students who are admitted from this time will need to complete the 6 workshops within the first 12 months.

Tackling the question of evaluation

In reviewing the challenges and successes of the process, Higashi explained that the team took time to “think about career development and all of the stakeholders involved” and sought to “maximize the time spent in career advising.”

Early feedback from students and faculty is positive; the next challenge is to tackle the question of evaluating the results. One unexpected result for Higashi has arrived in the form of faculty research. While it’s too early to share, it proves that innovation can inspire more of the same.

In the end, this service integration model is “breaking down the barriers between the classroom “curricular” and the service “co-curricular” sides has allowed us to incorporate career development in a holistic way,” said Higashi.

The results are empowering students to take ownership of managing their future career from the learner’s seat.

In addition, this work is leading to unexpected results, too. “Embedding career development into the classroom has led to future collaborations such as pursuing a research project on the impact of career learning in the classroom for our [BBA] students,” said Higashi.

This innovative Business Career Passport for undergrads is now at the beginning of a BBA student’s adventure from education to the world of work.