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Judith K. Hughey and Kenneth F. Hughey, Kansas State University

Editor's Note: Ken Hughey teaches EDCEP 863 Trends in Career Development, one of the graduate-level courses in the award-winning Kansas State University / NACADA Graduate Certificate Program in Academic Advising and within the Masters of Science in Academic Advising Program. Ken is the lead editor for the upcoming NACADA/Jossey-Bass publication The Handbook of Career Advising that will debut at the 2009 NACADA annual conference.

In the process of developing an academic and career plan, it is important for advisors to help students understand how their career fits in the context of their future. The context involves a workplace that is changing and a future that will likely provide less security, an increased level of competitiveness, and an increased rate of change. Gordon (2006) stated that 'now as never before, academic advisors need to be in tune with the changing workplace and the many factors influencing it' (p. viii) and to use this knowledge to enhance their advising and facilitate students' academic and career planning.

It is important that academic advisors be knowledgeable about the evolving, changing workplace and the skills needed to be successful. There is a need for students to become motivated lifelong learners who 'focus on monitoring and interpreting change' (Feller, 2003, p. iii). Simonsen (1997) stated, 'We are experiencing a revolution in the world of work no less dramatic than the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century that caused major changes in the way people made their living' (p. 13). The workplace evolved from being agricultural to industrial to being characterized by knowledge, information, and technology (Simonsen, 1997; Toffler & Toffler, 1995). Feller and Whichard (2005) noted that the workplace characterized by 'innovation, speed, and independence demands behaviors from all workers that were formerly expected only from professional/managerial workers' (p. 46). Students must understand that 'knowledge is the most valued commodity in today's economy; workers who understand this and have adapted accordingly are the ones able to capitalize on the best and most creative employment opportunities' (Feller & Whichard, 2005, p. 55).

This information on the changing workplace can be helpful and provide a context for academic and career advising and planning. An advisor can maintain currency through reading the professional literature (e.g., NACADA Journal, The Career Development Quarterly) and relevant magazines (e.g., FastCompany) and resources (e.g., Brave New Work World). In addition to advisors being aware of the information, it is important to provide information to students and help them seek ways to develop or enhance their knowledge, skills, and marketability. This can be accomplished through individual or group sessions, coursework, or formal or informal types of activities.

Knotts (2002) related workplace skills (core liberal arts skills [written communication, oral communication, creativity, critical thinking, theoretical thinking]; research design skills; data analysis skills; computer application skills; and general business skills) to undergraduate courses. For example, advisors should, based on students' goals and future plans, guide students to courses and experiences that will help students develop the skills that will effectively prepare them for the future. The development of an academic and career plan that effectively prepares students for their future is an important task for advisors. Understanding the changing workplace, skills needed and valued to be successful in the future, and individual academic, career, and personal needs is critical to the establishing academic and career goals and plans. Further, it enhances the potential for students to be prepared and respond proactively to changes or transitions that will arise over a lifetime.

As part of a student's academic and career plan, work-related or major-related experiences may be included (e.g., internships, experiential learning activities, or service-learning activities). Other examples include seminars, job shadowing, or active engagement within pre-professional organizations. The work-related activities can provide students the opportunity to help them become aware of the workplace, the in-demand skills needed, and expectations of change and adaptability within organizations. Further, these experiences may offer the opportunity to develop skills relevant to their career. Also, through these activities students can gain a clearer picture of their fit with the majors, certificate programs, or occupational fields. Further, advisors can work collaboratively with undergraduate faculty, career services professionals, and business organizations and temporary employment brokers to help students become aware of the changing workplace and the skills needed to be successful. It seems critical that students' preparation for their future and the development of skills and knowledge should be goals and addressed within all college coursework.

In her recent book on career advising, Gordon (2006) noted areas in which advisors can assist students with their preparation for the future. These include:

  • Helping students gather and interpret complex educational and career information related to the work world of the future;
  • Helping them become career strategists, not just planners;
  • Helping them develop contextual and portable skills;
  • Helping them develop the ability to negotiate school and work environments;
  • Helping them develop contingency plans for changes; and
  • Impressing upon them the need to set realistic and measurable personal, academic, and career goals (p. 126).

In summary, given the changes in the workplace and the decreasing level of employment security and job tenure of many workers, the development and implementation of career management skills and skills valued in the workplace have the potential to facilitate students' ownership of their career development and effectively prepare them for the future. Advisor involvement in facilitating students' development of academic and career plans and goals that support students' personal and professional development for a changing, evolving future is critical. Career and academic advising has an integral role in preparing students for their career and future.

Concluding Thoughts

Advisors observant of how their careers are changing can appreciate college students' challenges interpreting how they should prepare for a changing, evolving workplace and future. Often the best advising is that which offers some sense ofhope, encouragement, and concrete examples so that students see the connection among their course selections, experiences, and expectations. Burton Nelson (2006) offered a mission statement for effective career advising as educating and graduating students 'with the skills needed to enter suitable employment and contribute to the economic development of surrounding communities and beyond.' Feller and Whichard (2005) recommended that students make 'courageous choices.' They stated the following: 'Confront your fears about risk and change. Explore new possibilities. Make the hard choices. Climb the tallest peaks. Look behind the shadows and listen to those without voices. Live life fully' (p. 134). Through effective advising to facilitate academic and career planning, students can learn and develop skills, knowledge, and characteristics needed for a successful career and life.

Judith K. Hughey
Kansas State University

Kenneth F. Hughey
Kansas State University
[email protected]


Burton Nelson, D. (2006). Career advisors: A new breed. Retrieved March 23, 2006, from the NACADA Clearinghouse of cademic Advising Resources Web site at http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/career-advisors.htm

Feller, R. W. (2003). Connecting school counseling to the current reality. Professional School Counseling, 6 (4), ii-v.

Feller, R., & Whichard, J. (2005). K nowledge nomads and the nervously employed: Workplace change and courageous career choices. Austin, TX: PRO-ED.

Gordon, V.N. (2006). Career advising: An academic advisor's guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Knotts, H. G. (2002). Rethinking liberal arts skills in the new economy. NACADA Journal, 22 (1), 26-31.

Simonsen, P. (1997). Promoting a development culture in your organization: Using career development as an agent of change. Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black.

Toffler, A., & Toffler, H. (1995 ). Creating a new civilization. Atlanta: Turner.

Cite this article using APA style as: Hughey, J. & Hughey, K. (2006, September). The changing workplace: Implications for academic and career advising . Academic Advising Today, 29(3). Retrieved from [insert url here]


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