How Full Sail’s Career Development Department Helps Prepare Grads for Success
Published on Sep 25, 2018 by Stephanie Rizzo
Full Sail’s Career Development team provides students and alumni with targeted support at many stages throughout their career journey. And once on the path, they work on building and maintaining a community network, ensuring a lifelong Full Sail connection. We spoke with Tammy Elliott, Executive Vice President of Career Development, about how her team’s services form a cornerstone of the Full Sail experience.
Before You Graduate
Career Development starts building relationships with students long before graduation. Each degree program features seven integrated career modules built right into the curriculum. These modules were designed by faculty and staff with input from Full Sail’s industry partners, and tackle topics like developing a personal brand and advanced interviewing strategies.
“We want students to have as much information as possible throughout their degree program,” says Tammy. “The career modules cover big topics like networking, which sounds like an easy thing to explain but is in fact quite nebulous. There are lots of ways to network. So we provide students with a variety of best practices and information gleaned from industry professionals.”
The staff also makes themselves available for walk-in appointments. These weekly sessions, known as “Open Door Days,” are intended to familiarize students with Career Development services at any point in their educational journey. The low-pressure environment allow students to connect with an advisor who specializes in their industry and ask a few fundamental questions. These services are also available to online students, with career advisors standing by to take Skype appointments.
“So much of what makes for a successful transition into the industry is planning,” says Tammy. “We’ve hosted Open Door Days for years because we want to be accessible to our students and allow them to get to know what we do on a personal basis.”
The entertainment and media industries operate under a unique set of professional standards. To prepare students, Tammy and her team worked with Full Sail’s education partners to develop the Global Professional Standard (GPS) program, which builds upon the soft skills needed to succeed. Students can earn GPS points in a variety of ways – from attending special lectures and workshops to exhibiting professional behavior and leadership qualities in individual courses. At the end of their program, they’ll be presented with an official GPS score, which they can proudly display on a résumé as an indicator of their professionalism.
As Graduation Approaches
All students are assigned a primary career advisor three months prior to graduation. These advisors are staff members with industry-specific backgrounds, so they’re able to understand what new grads are facing in the job market. Together, students and their advisors will work to build on skills introduced in the career modules. For instance, a student may come in for an appointment after completing the two career modules on résumés. Their advisor might then look their résumé over and offer suggestions to tweak and polish the final product.
The team also offers a variety of supplemental workshops covering everything a new grad needs to know to make their way in the industry.
“We encourage students at all levels to attend these workshops,” she says. “But we really lean in around the time they’re approaching graduation.”
In addition to workshops, the alumni relations team frequently hosts employers and industry guests on campus. Many of these events are live-streamed, providing online students with the opportunity to tune in and participate from anywhere in the world.
Finally, students are introduced to CareerSync, an online portal that acts as a hub for information that connects new grads with career advisors and employers. And they’re directed to Full Sail’s Alumni Network website, which connects the university’s community of 60,000 grads and allows them to share their story with others.
“CareerSync with be their home after they graduate and transition from our campus or online student community. We introduce it early, prior to graduation, so that they can be familiar with how it works and access job listings and support from the minute they step off the graduation stage,” says Tammy.
New grads will continue working with their career advisors as they navigate CareerSync and follow up on job leads. From the standpoint of Career Development, the post-grad process isn’t that different from the student experience. Grads still have access to their career advisors and all of the resources provided by the department – including online workshops, hiring events in different cities across the country, and job lead searches.
“All the services are the same,” says Tammy. “The one thing that’s different as a graduate is that you are now accessible to employers.”
She goes on to stress that the relationship between career advisors and graduates is a partnership, one that should be directed by the individual rather than the school. Throughout a person’s time at Full Sail, Career Development works hard to provide each student with a full set of tools and skills to go out into the world and find a job. Putting those newfound skills to work is key to the beginning of any career path, and it’s deeply personal to the individual.
“The more a graduate can take a proactive approach, the more opportunities they will have,” says Tammy.
Once a student enters the industry, they’ll continue to have access to their career advisor for as long as they need before transitioning to the alumni relations team, which is organized regionally rather than by industry.
“We still maintain a connection with our graduate base even after they move on to their careers – we work with them on building a community and networking with other alumni to capitalize on forward momentum,” explains Tammy.
“We want to invite all of our grads to be a part of a community that understands them,” she adds. “Hopefully, those connections will continue to propel them, and if they ever need us, we’ll be there.”
For more resources, grad stories, and information, visit Full Sail’s Alumni Network.