Career Faculty Fellowship Helps Students Become Career Ready

It was an exciting and rewarding experience to be the inaugural Center for Career Development’s Faculty Fellow for the Spring 2023.

We started with a vision that the Center for Career Development needs to establish closer connections with UConn faculty to further the mission of helping students successfully embark on their careers upon graduation. As I started to get acquainted with the breadth of activities of the Career Center, the fellowship took a much deeper intellectual form.

I discovered that we have a documented problem that students cannot articulate to employers what career competencies they have acquired at UConn. And we have empirical evidence that faculty are the first line of inquiry about potential careers in a selected field. (NACE, NACM 2022)

Therefore, the focus of my fellowship became to develop a solution to this problem. In broader terms, with the help of Kaitlyn Anderson, Career Readiness Program Designer, we came up with the concept of Three As: Awareness, Alignment, Articulation.


We need to help faculty be aware of eight NACE Career Readiness Competencies that UConn has adopted. My task was to study extensive literature on those competencies, skills, and sample behaviors, which Kaitlyn Anderson has assembled. With Kaitlyn’s help, I developed and delivered to faculty concise presentations on Critical Thinking, Professionalism, and Communication competencies.


We need to help faculty align their curriculum with career competencies. My task was to integrate the competencies in my own courses, observe students’ responses, and share my work with UConn faculty. With my co-author, Dr. Kalnova from the Communication Department, we developed a two-assignment module on using public data to inform career choice, which we piloted and presented at several regional and national conferences. During virtual and in-person meetings with faculty across UConn’s units and campuses, I shared my experiences and showed examples of career competencies alignment with students learning objectives in my own courses.


We need to help faculty articulate what career-related skills are acquired by students in their courses. My task was to critically assess the competencies’ integration in my own courses and share my approaches with faculty.

It seems that with the Three As approach, the faculty will help students to reflect on skills and competencies acquired during their studies at UConn and be able to articulate those to employers.

As I conclude the Fellowship, I am hoping that this work will continue within the new Career Faculty Ambassador program. I envision this program to build a network of Career Faculty Fellows, who are passionate about the career readiness of our students and continue their work with faculty after their fellowship ends. I volunteer to be the first Career Faculty Ambassador.

By Natalia Smirnova
Natalia Smirnova Associate Professor In Residence