NOVEMBER 16, 2021 — UTSA has a longstanding tradition of supporting student staff and their supervisors. Now, the university is ensuring that access to professional development resources and training is consistent across departments. The new ’Runner Career Launch initiative provides resources for student employees and their supervisors to ensure students gain transferable skills from their on-campus jobs, and maximize these skills to become more competitive and marketable in their future careers.
Fueled by UTSA’s Classroom to Career Initiative, ’Runner Career Launch was created by a task force comprised of staff from across the university. The program features a collection of resources and training aimed at improving the student employee experience by customizing the professional development available to students and their supervisors.
“The goal of ’Runner Career Launch is to provide tangible resources that students and their supervisors can use to equip them with the knowledge necessary to gain real-world, transferable skills in their on-campus jobs and to learn how to apply the skills to become more marketable in their future career path,” said Lisa Vazquez Vigil, senior career consultant with the University Career Center and a ’Runner Career Launch task force member.
’Runner Career Launch includes resources across five areas to help UTSA students grow professionally:
To support career readiness, an eight-week pilot program of virtual workshops covering a variety of professional development topics was introduced to a group of 32 students in fall 2020. Both students and their supervisors provided feedback to help tailor the professional development topics of future workshops.
Jessica Torres, an intern with the University Career Center (UCC) who participated in the pilot program, feels the workshops have played a key role in her personal development.
“When I first began at the UCC, I was very timid when it came to taking on projects and communicating with others,” Torres said. “As I started taking on more projects and attending the workshops, I gained a set of skills that made me feel more confident in my abilities and work. The workshops have taught me how to approach challenging situations and see things in a different perspective in order to find a solution.”
The relationship between student workers and their supervisors is also benefitting from the training. Hector Bermea, a student worker in the UCC, feels he’s developing into a better professional thanks to the workshops and encouragement from his supervisor.
“My relationship with my supervisor has always been great, and I know it improved even more when she encouraged me to take these workshops, Bermea said. “She always encourages me to work on my professional development and I am so appreciative that I can rely on her to push me to become a better leader.”
Thanks to this feedback, the UCC and the Leadership Volunteer Services (LVS) offices now offer a Student Leadership Academy (SLA) track that is specifically designated for student employees. This signature program helps students identify and demonstrate their marketable skills and includes a series of workshops tailored to address the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ career readiness competencies.
These eight core competencies—professionalism, leadership, teamwork, career and self-development, equity and inclusion, critical thinking, communication and technology—form the foundation for workplace success across fields and job functions. The task force is exploring a hybrid format for the SLA to provide a more personalized experience for both students and their supervisors. Any department on campus wanting to provide this opportunity to their student employees can put in a request to the LVS or send an email to LVS@utsa.edu.
To assist supervisors with onboarding new student workers, the ’Runner Career Launch website offers a streamlined list of guidance, best practices and training to help them orient students to their new jobs. The initiative’s task force encourages supervisors to take advantage of these leadership and supervision courses, which are offered through mytraining.utsa.edu.
Lastly, in the area of performance evaluation, ’Runner Career Launch offers templates to help standardize the evaluation process for student employees and their supervisors. The resources even include a suggested accountability and reward system for student staff.
’Runner Career Launch advances the university’s Bold Careers Quality Enhancement Plan, which is aimed at developing students’ marketable skills and career readiness by helping them find understanding through experiential learning.
“Career readiness is a focus of our university and something everyone at UTSA can be a part of to ensure our students are prepared to ‘launch’ after they graduate,” said Ginnifer Cié Gee, associate vice provost for career-engaged learning and director of the Quality Enhancement Plan. “We are excited to share this new resource with the campus community and further professionalize our student employees’ experiences so they are prepared to be successful in whatever career they choose.”
Student supervisors are encouraged to visit the ’Runner Career Launch website to find resources and guidance to better support their student employees.
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