Applied Business Faculty Publications

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In 2016, Gallup reported 80 percent of recent U.S. college graduates who had visited career services offices (CSO) rated their engagement to be somewhat to very helpful. Quantitative reports such as this provide student views of CSOs, but neither address CSO staff’s perceptions of the value of their work nor the tools they use to assist students. Staff perceptions provide insight into how they communicate with students and align with emerging career education paradigms. Through in-depth interviews and participant observations, this study illuminates the communicative strategies used by CSO staff at a large U.S. Midwestern public university to support student employability. This study extends our theoretical understanding of career education and employability discourse, where staff engaged students’ assumptions about careers and provided opportunities for them to diversify knowledge about themselves and work to develop their career identities. Additionally, career education activities supported the development of students’ social capital and personal adaptability through staying positively focused and proactive in career exploration and job searches. Practical implications for this study are that employability discourse could (1) emphasize how institution-sponsored activities could increase student job seeker competitiveness, but also (2) instill a “no guarantees” academic culture where students are responsible for their employability.


Originally published in Qualitative Research in Education