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Washington State University
UCORE: University Common Requirements Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement

Core to Career

What Is Core to Career?

Core to Career is a professional development fellowship program that supports WSU faculty who are interested in intentionally incorporating career readiness into their UCORE courses.

UCORE remains committed to its central mission of providing WSU undergraduates with a broad liberal education to complement the depth gained in their major areas of study. Too often though, students (and parents, and yes, some faculty and advisors) fail to see the connections between this broad education and post-graduation employment prospects. This is true, even though employers repeatedly cite WSU’s undergraduate learning outcomes like critical thinking, understanding diversity, and communication as among the most important qualities in potential hires.

To this end, UCORE aims to close this awareness gap by helping faculty to intentionally scaffold career readiness competencies identified by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) into course and assignment design.

Career Readiness Defined

“Career readiness is a foundation from which to demonstrate requisite core competencies that broadly prepare the college educated for success in the workplace and lifelong career management. For new college graduates, career readiness is key to ensuring successful entrance into the workforce. Career readiness is the foundation upon which a successful career is launched. Career readiness is, quite simply, the new career currency.”

-National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)

Read about NACE’s career readiness initiative on their website. They include descriptions of the career competencies and the observable behaviors that students may exhibit.

An Awareness Gap

Employers both public and private in Washington state and beyond demand that our graduates leave WSU not only with specialized, technical skills developed through major fields of study. They also demand that graduates carry with them transferrable skills, or core competencies, offered through WSU’s UCORE program and expanded through major fields of study and co-curricular activities.

These competencies render our graduates adaptable in an ever-changing economy and society. And many of our graduates leave WSU with these skills.

Yet too often, undergraduates, and indeed the faculty and advisors who mentor and counsel them, are unable to articulate “career readiness” to potential employers. This initiative aims to close this awareness gap and beginning with UCORE, to scale the delivery and development of core competencies across the undergraduate experience. It recognizes that it is not enough for undergraduates to encounter disparate opportunities to develop and apply transferrable skills. They must also be able to see connections among them, to development them coherently and consistently across WSU’s undergraduate curriculum, and to advocate for themselves in career and life after WSU.

A Work in Progress

Core to Career has its origins in a generous donation from a long time WSU faculty member committed to the ideals of a broad liberal education. It takes as its inspiration several successful models at other institutions, including Georgia State University, University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts, and Clemson University.

Like each of these programs, Core to Career aims to build faculty capacity to prepare graduates for iterative growth within and adaptation to an ever-changing employment landscape.

At WSU, this multi-year process will begin in Fall 2021 with an invited inaugural faculty fellows cohort. We’re starting from the bottom up — introducing first-year students to career competencies in their First-Year Experience (ROOT) and Foundational Competencies (WRTG, COMM, QUAN) UCORE courses.

The intention is that the fellows program will expand to other lower division UCORE courses and campuses beyond Pullman in subsequent cohorts. Our goal is that by 2024, it would be relatively difficult for a four-year matriculating undergraduate not to engage the habits of mind and action that signal career readiness in their first two years.