In this closing blog in a series of three posts by Jerome Rickmann, he outlines a unique effort in the EU to create a European Centre for Career Development & Entrepreneurship. I’m grateful for this extended discussion by Jerome about the role of career service offices in German universities and their contribution to internationalization of their higher education institutions. There is, unfortunately, no corresponding effort in the U.S. to unify and share university career development resources. With rare exceptions, this is also true for library collections, sports facilities, etc. – or for that matter, international education programs.
Guest post by Jerome Rickmann
Director, International Talent Acquisition & Project Development
EBC Hochschule (a private multi-campus business school in Berlin)
In my last two guest posts, I described a rather “dark” picture of the German Career Service landscape on our campuses. Too dark one might argue. Compared to the level of support for career services within other higher education systems within the EU, our level of professional commitment and support for this office and its role is quite high. Elsewhere in the EU, there is enormous potential, but seldom the necessary institutional resources to put a systematic strategy and aligned effective operations in place.
At EBC Hochschule, we ponder the same key questions: We all know that the resources we have will not suffice to meet the actual needs of our students on a large scale; thus, how do we reduce cost, build capacity, improve skill and the knowledge base of our staff when it comes to international know-how?
I want to use this last post for Global Career Compass to briefly introduce a project that we are at currently working on – the European Centre for Career Development & Entrepreneurship. The idea we had was to build a “shared” transnational career service consortium of strategic partners that caters to the different international informational needs of “stakeholders” (i.e. students, career service officers, senior management or our partners).
The heart of this network will be a platform where we share resources like job-boards, application guides etc. and offer the possibility to match academics, students and other stakeholders who have an interest in entrepreneurship in terms of research or actual start-up cooperation. This will be accompanied by staff training weeks, summer schools and the like in order to develop internationally- aware staff and students. The aim is to keep the network small and foster deep relations between the involved career officers so that they truly benefit from their enlarged network in their day-to-day operations. At the same time, we actively will promote the model and share our experiences, since we want other institutions to copy the model (at least in Europe one could copy most measures and get them financed via the different ERASMUS+ KA I options).
I believe that a lot of small actively cooperating networks will have a larger impact and offer truly helpful student-centered support than a large consortium would have. Personal relations will be key if we want career officers to not only broaden their perspectives, but also obtain the tools necessary to assist students on a larger scale. A timeline and more concise project description can be found here: www.ecce.network.
Such a “trans-national” model can work when examining the success of the career service network run by the Technical University Chemnitz (https://www.tu-chemnitz.de/career-service/tcs/conference.php) that operates mainly between Germany and the Czech Republic (but which is also dedicated to creating a European network of Career Service offices that promotes the transnational collegial exchange of ideas and best practices).
These models have a lot of potential to add a new dimension to already existing EU university networks. The challenge will remain to find sustainable funding models and to scale the operations for a larger input (the only way I can realistically imagine this will happen is for such models to be based on enhanced web- and video services for essential services to reduce face-time and/or even more collaborative models on a regional/national and international scale) .