How to Use this Toolkit
The toolkit was developed to be used by a faculty member, a program chair, a department, a division or a college. Where you start will depend on your role and what you hope to accomplish regarding employer engagement. Of course, you may start at any point in the toolkit; however, we suggest you consider the following to streamline your process.
If you are a faculty member or program chair…..
You may wish to start with Developing Your Program. Here you will learn about a structure called the Business Industry Leadership Team, or BILT, as an alternative to an Advisory Committee. There is a toolkit for the BILT if you are looking to learn more about this co-leadership model. The toolkit includes background information, a how-to guide for conducting meetings, templates for invitations, and a meeting checklist to ensure you are prepared.
Another great starting point is Knowing Your Audience. This module helps you do a deep dive into your current employer base and identify new employers to bring into your college’s activities and resources. Here you will find worksheets to help you identify the employers you work most closely with along with the activities each employer participates in (career fairs, job shadow, internships, etc.). These activities will also enable you to see who’s missing (those employers who aren’t represented but should be) so that you can target them for outreach.
If you are a Director or Dean…
You may wish to start with Knowing Your Audience. The key to this module is to gather those in your college who currently interact with employers and collaborate on a list or database of employer contacts. This pooling of resources will assist you in determining how you can efficiently and effectively reach out to employers for engagement opportunities. Cross-referencing of lists will also allow insight into which employers are engaged in more than one area of your college and identify gaps of missing employers (those who you believe should be engaged but aren’t). The tools in Knowing Your Audience will allow you to build an internal employer engagement strategy team.
The Mining for Deeper Engagement module provides resources for building stronger ties with your existing employer base and ideas for adding new employers to your strategy, along with ways to recognize and celebrate your currently engaged employers.
If you are in the Academic Division you may wish to start with Developing Your Program. Here you will learn about a structure called the Business Industry Leadership Team, or BILT, as an alternative to an Advisory Committee. There is a toolkit for the BILT if you are looking to learn more about this co-leadership model. The toolkit includes background information, a how-to guide for conducting meetings, templates for invitations, and a meeting checklist to ensure you are prepared.
If you are in the Workforce/Economic Development Division you may wish to start with Knowing Your Audience. This will allow you to identify employer engagement across a number of departments/divisions of the college to determine opportunities for strategic outreach. Using your knowledge of new businesses in the area will allow you to add to the inventory of employer engagement opportunities and interactions.
If you are leading a college-wide initiative……
The best starting point will be to create an internal employer engagement strategy team. All colleges work with local employers, however, different departments may work with different contacts at each business, for different outcomes. For example, the Foundation office likely works with businesses to secure donations, scholarships, etc. The Career Services office works with employers to place students, attend career fairs, etc. The Academic Division works with employers to serve on advisory committees, provide internships, job shadowing opportunities, guest speakers, tours, etc. The Business Services department works with employers to promote and deliver customized training and professional development. By bringing these departments and divisions together you can create a clear picture of your current employer engagement efforts. From this vantage point you will begin to see your top employer connections, but also those employers you feel would benefit from greater interaction with your college, and those who are missing from the picture. The resources in Knowing Your Audience can assist with identifying internal contacts and their external connections.
The Mining for Deeper Engagement module provides resources and ideas on how to build on your current relationships and forge new ones. The worksheets provide a visual of engagement gaps and ideas for recognition and testimonials to aid in marketing efforts.
Gaining Support is a great module for talking through how your interactions with employers can lead to mutually beneficial outcomes for students and employers, keeping in mind that not all support is financial. Brainstorm ideas on how to better understand your employers’ perspectives and work toward accomplishing outcomes important to them.
Joining Voices helps you identify employers who may serve as the college’s spokespeople at the community, state and national levels. Create alliances with employers who believe in your mission, access your resources and support the college, which could lead them to endorse grant opportunities, speak to the importance and necessity of funding for specific programs and initiatives at your college, and more.