New Program Enables Drexel Faculty and Professional Staff to be ‘Career Champions’ for Students

A graphic showing interpersonal connections.

For students trying to make decisions about their future careers, having someone to turn to for help — whether formally or informally, through mentors or casual acquaintances, during an official meeting or a casual check-in — can make a great difference. For Drexel University faculty and professional staff engaging in these kinds of career conversations with students, there’s a new program that could better equip them with information about resources, expertise and referral point people across the University.

Drexel’s Career Champions Certificate Program was launched this year by the Steinbright Career Development Center in partnership with Drexel Human Resources to offer support through virtual workshops. Faculty and professional staff who attend three out of five sessions are eligible to become certified career champions; they can also attend any sessions that speak to them without needing to achieve certification. 

“This is for anyone across campus that students are going to with questions — about their major, the right next job, salary negotiations, cover letter edits or résumé feedback — so that they are empowered to support and guide students in determining their next step,” said Steinbright Director of Career Services and Strategic Initiatives Nicole Dalberto. “That can be in the form of mentorship, but sometimes when folks hear ‘mentorship,’ they think of a formal program or don’t see themselves as mentors. I shy away from that because it’s just the reality that at any moment a student is going to cross someone’s path at Drexel and be in the space of personal indecision.”

Drexel’s new program stems from the Career Champions program originally launched at the University of South Carolina, and incorporates a University-wide selection of experts co-presenting at sessions organized by Steinbright. Following a “train the trainers” model, the program informs participants of meaningful ways to advise and refer while also connecting them with different areas of the University. Each session incorporates a relevant campus partner.

The first session was held Feb. 24 with a presentation with Graduate Admissions titled “Finding the Path at Drexel with Career Counseling,” which was attended by 39 participants. Upcoming events include:

  • “LinkedIn as You’ve Never Seen Before” on March 24 by Steinbright with the Center for Black Culture
  • “Handshake - The Powerful Job Search Tool for Students” on April 14 by Steinbright with the College of Nursing and Health Professions
  • “Designing Your Life & Supporting Students in Design Thinking” on May 19 by Steinbright with Postdoctoral Affairs & Professional Development
  • “Brain-Based Advising: Academic and Career Applications” on July 14 by Steinbright with the Drexel Counseling Center
Text describes Career Champions as "The program aims to educate, empower and lead staff and faculty across campus that are already having career conversations with students to have them informed by the resources, expertise and right referral point people at Steinbright."

Faculty and professional staff can register to attend these events through Career Pathway. Once they complete three sessions, they will be certified as Career Champions. Though events are currently offered through the next few months, Steinbright plans to expand the Career Champions Certificate Program into ongoing programming throughout the year.

“We are not asking anyone to take on more, but rather we are recognizing that they are having these conversations with students about major career decisions and we want to share Drexel resources and ensure that people can really make that trusted connection for students to find their way to the right person in the right place,” said Dalberto.

Previously, Steinbright, through Dalberto’s leadership, piloted this program with the Veterans Task Force in January 2021. In a survey requesting feedback from the Veterans Task Force Career Champions participants, all participants said they would recommend it to a colleague at Drexel.

Steinbright later partnered with Drexel Alumni for the Alumni Career Champions program series in which Drexel alumni held five workshops with similar topics and customized for their fellow Dragons. Faculty and professional staff who are also Drexel alumni can access recordings of those events through Dragon Network

“Having faculty and professional staff know there’s a tool to find meaningful information to share with students is crucial,” said Dalberto. “It could be a huge help for campus partners to know that there is a career counselor from first-year students at Steinbright that they could refer a student unsure of their major to for powerful career counseling support. And that’s one example. We have so many students needing those conversations and at all different times, whether they’re coming back from the co-op or reaching their senior year, and they’re reaching out to people across campus that they trust. And by knocking on that door, we hope that the entire world can be opened.”