In the 1997 landmark study, Talking about Leaving: Why Undergraduates Leave the Sciences by Seymour and Hewitt, 75% of students who switched to non-STEM majors identified “inadequate advising or help with academic problems” as a concern (p.33). Interestingly, 52% of undergraduates who stayed in STEM majors had the same concern. Individual interviews and focus groups provided the detail that undergraduates are confused and frustrated by having to visit different offices and staff to get advising, career counseling and tutorial services (p.134). The STEM students would prefer one-point access to these support services.
At the University of North Texas (UNT), which has over 36,000 students, even if academic advisors were knowledgeable about careers in STEM, they do not have the time to explore this topic with the thousands of students they see each year. The Career Center has the same challenge of overwhelming numbers; there is one career development specialist for the College of Arts and Sciences and one other for the College of Engineering. Obviously these folks could use a hand from librarians in getting STEM career information out to students.
Here are some ideas for collaborating with academic and career advising staff to help STEM undergraduates who need to know more about career options: 1) work together to gather content for subject guides on library websites that will direct students to career options, 2) jointly design online brochures of STEM career resources and make them available on advising, career counseling, and library webpages, and 3) jointly design print brochures with career resources and liaison librarian contact information to be distributed in academic advising and career counseling offices.
Please share any related ideas you have or that have been already implemented at your college or university!