What University of Utah football, career services have in common

Aug 30, 2023, 3:00 PM

Image of the Career Closet at University of Utah Career Services....

Career Closet at U Career Services (Ryan Sherry)

(Ryan Sherry)

SALT LAKE CITY — All eyes will be on the University of Utah tomorrow night when the college football season kicks off. The University of Florida comes to Rice Eccles Stadium to take on the Utes.

College football can be a hugely enjoyable part of the college experience and the community. But there is something really exciting happening just a few blocks to the northeast of the stadium that not as many people know about/

University of Utah career services

Every university has some form of traditional career services. The problem is that the average student either doesn’t know they exist or isn’t motivated to use them.

“We came to the conclusion that we just needed to throw out traditional career services and do something different,” said Katie Abby, the Assistant Dean of U Career Success and special advisor to the President of the University of Utah. “We took the traditional model and flipped it upside down. Rather than create a strategy around students, we create a strategy around employers and community partners because that’s where the long-term relationship lies.”

U Career Success functions more like a professional placement firm.

“We built it right in the business school,” Abby said. “But we also act as the concierge for companies so if they need something outside the business school, we help them get there. They don’t have to figure out ‘Who’s my contact in engineering, or how do I get a project in humanities?'”

Career coaches

“When it comes to student placement, the real magic happens because we have a group of people who know these employers inside and out,” Abby said. “And we have coaches who know their students the same way. What are their skills? Where do they want to work geographically? What kind of culture would they fit in?”

The University of Utah requires full engagement from its career coaches.

“We require our coaches to know every single student they are assigned,” Abby explained. “We require them to reach out, call, email, text, stand outside a classroom door and invite them in.”

The U Career Success office is housed in the Garff building on campus. 

“What we’re doing is embedding coaches within each college so they can get to know the faculty, get to know the staff, understand the students, the curriculum. And it’s different in every college.”

“We want to foster those relationships,” said Diana Woodbury, the director of Communications and Intern Support for U Career Success at the University of Utah. “We don’t want students to wait until their junior or senior years.”

They want students to come to them during their freshman year.

“President Randall has an intiative to have every student pursue at least one internship. Every student,” Abby emphasized. “The goal is three: one after your first year, one after your second year, and the big one after your third year. That’s the goal. We think that would make our students really, really competitive.”

In fact, students use a page called Handshake on the University Campus Information Portal that let’s them set up a profile and see all jobs and internships currently available.

Help with everything

U Career Success helps with every step of the hiring process, down to the shoes on your feet.

“The career closet helps a student feel confident in the interview process,” Woodbury explained. “If you’re wearing a blazer or pair of shoes that gives you confidence, that will help you represent yourself and your skills better.”

The closet has a variety of clothing sizes and styles.

“We are always taking donations and appreciate them,” Woodbury said. “Our dry cleaning bills are enormous, and it’s well worth it. Sometimes a student will come running in at the last minute saying, ‘I’ve got a presentation, and I’m wearing shorts!’ We fix them up.”

They even have a staff of students who will shoot students’ headshots for their LinkedIn profiles or other branding opportunities.

Teaching applicants to negotiate

The U Career Success coaches aren’t done after the student gets an offer.

“Every one of our students is armed with how to negotiate,” Woodbury explained.

“We do a real hands-on workshop to give students an understanding of how you prepare research for a negotiation, what you say to start the conversation,” Abby shared. “Our success rate for students who take the workshop and go on to negotiate is well over 90% in terms of improving their compensation.”

“Most students don’t know and wouldn’t know unless someone told them that employers expect you to counter your first offer,” Woodbury added. “Just knowing that lessons the anxiety around the process.”

Amanda Dickson is the co-host of Utah’s Morning News and A Woman’s View.

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What University of Utah football, career services have in common