Strategic Directions For Career Services Within The University Setting

Book Review By Amanda C. Sargent

Smith, K. K. (Ed.). (2014). New Directions for Student Services: No. 148. Strategic directions for career services within the university setting. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 107 pages.



It is no secret to career services professionals nationwide that the role and expectations of career services centers in higher education are changing. With greater emphasis on accountability and return on investment for stakeholders, career centers are adapting to increase their credibility, reach, and efficacy. Strategic Directions for Career Services within the University Setting provides an overview of current trends in career services focusing on “strategic directions” and “practical advice” for university and career services leadership as institutions attempt to navigate the changing landscape. A collection of university career services administrators, academic deans, student affairs leaders, and university faculty employed in eight U.S. institutions serve as authors addressing future movements of career services, both as individual units and as integral members of the university community.


Book Contents

Editor’s Notes - Primary editor Kelli K. Smith emphasizes the importance of examining current trends in career services. A brief summary of each chapter is provided as well as a call for raised awareness of the changing role career services play in higher education.

Ch. 1: The Evolution of Career Services in Higher Education - A brief historical interpretation of career services in higher education in the 20th and 21st centuries, followed by observations of current trends and implications for future directions;

Ch. 2: Value-Added Career Services: Creating College/University-wide systems - Argues that career centers should be “the leader in creating college/university-wide career programs and systems” (p.19); Offers suggestions for assessing career services value-add to the greater institution in the context of selected continua (e.g. involvement in career development, experiential learning, employer recruitment);

Ch. 3:Back to Basics: Career Counseling -Discusses the importance of career counseling in university settings with emphasis on training, support, and assessment; Offers strategies to obtain staff buy-in and maintain on-going best practices;

Ch. 4: Academic Advising and Career Services: A Collaborative Approach - Offers strategies for partnership between academic advising and career services; Provides a case study of Florida State University’s academic advising and career center partnership;

Ch. 5: Framing Assessment for Career Services: Telling Our Story - Speaks to the growing need for accountability in career services; Breaks down assessment of career services activities in an accessible and meaningful way, while offering practical strategies and suggestions for application;

Ch. 6: Career Services in External Relations - Reviews several methods and opportunities for collaborating with external entities (such as educational institutions, community members, and service-learning providers) to enhance career services value and reach;

Ch. 7: The Globalization of Career Services -Emphasizes the need for career centers to incorporate a global mindset into service delivery; Gives examples of ways to begin implementing a culture of internationalization;


Increasing Career Development Professional Competency

Higher Education is one of the primary arenas in which career advising, counseling, education, and programming are created and implemented. University career centers (and student services centers that offer career development services) are community hubs where information, learning, and personal growth occur for students and community members alike. In reflecting on current trends in university career services, practitioners in all facets of career development work can benefit as these communities of practice transcend the higher education environment to impact and reflect the activities of the larger economy and the career services field at large. These trends and shifts in service delivery and practice directly relate to the experience of students, job seekers, employers, employees, and career development practitioners as they engage in careering through our changing world.


Critical Review

This publication is the first New Directions for Student Services sourcebook regarding career services since Jack Rayman’s The Changing Role of Career Services in 1993. In this most recent installment of New Directions for Student Services, authors have endeavored to share meaningful strategies for broaching the new challenges career services is facing in light of the altered higher education landscape. This publication certainly meets its articulated objective of providing a balanced overview of trends and proposed strategic considerations in university career services with discussions and practical applications relevant to any career development practitioner. The information provided regarding evolution of the field (Ch. 1), articulation of value-add (Ch. 2, Ch. 5, Ch. 6), collaboration with cross-university and community partners (Ch. 4, Ch. 6, Ch.7), and the adoption of meaningful new service delivery methods and assessment (Ch. 2, Ch. 3, Ch.5, Ch. 7) makes this monograph a must-read for any practitioner hoping to maintain a best-practices approach to operations in higher education career services.


A poignant element expressed throughout this most recent installment of New Directions for Student Services is that university leaders are looking for career services to take a more active and central role when it comes to retention and graduate success. With the emergence of the President’s College Scorecard, accountability and return on investment have become areas of national concern in addition to provoking powerful conversations between university leadership and career services stakeholders in higher education institutions of every classification. While the authors bring a variety of professional experiences from several institutional categories (public, private, community college, large, small), questions remain as to the feasibility of implementing the proposed “new directions” across the vast array of U.S. university settings. In a recent NACE Journal article, Koc and Tsang (2014) describe how university support for career services staffing and activities has been, and continues to be, insufficient to keep up with stakeholder demands regardless of size, designation, or location. New Directions for Student Services: No. 148 provides readers some excellent “what’s” and “why’s” with regard to new directions. The question that remains unanswered is “how do we do it?” Perhaps that is exactly what the contributors were hoping to accomplish in publishing this work; New Directions for Student Services: No. 148 is a call to action.


Paperback versions of Strategic Directions for Career Services within the University Setting can be purchased online from Wiley.com for $29.00. E-book versions can be purchased from Amazon, Apple iBooks or Barnes & Noble for $23.99.




Koc, E. W., & Tsang, K. C. (2014). The university commitment to career services. NACE Journal, 75(3), 16-22.


Rayman, J. R. (Ed.). (1993). New Directions for Student Services: No. 62. The changing role of career services. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


Smith, K. K. (Ed.). (2014). New Directions for Student Services: No. 148. Strategic directions for career services within the university setting. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


The White House. (n.d.). College Scorecard [web page]. Retrieved from www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education/higher-education/college-score-card



Amanda SargentAmanda C. Sargent, M.A., NCC, currently serves as Assistant Director of Career Advising and Counseling at Florida State University where she is also an instructor of the Introduction to Career Development undergraduate course. Her previous experiences include career services administration, career counseling, and faculty roles at Northern Virginia Community College, Marymount University, and George Mason University. She can be reached at: acsargent@fsu.edu



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Janet Wall   on Thursday 04/02/2015 at 06:27 PM

Nice overview. Looking forward to having you in the GCDF course!

Paul Timmins   on Sunday 04/19/2015 at 12:24 PM

Thanks for the review -- this really is a good book for many of us to know about and use!

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the comments shown above are those of the individual comment authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of this organization.