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Career-Related Learning Outcomes

We know the primary reasons most students choose to invest in a college education center on preparing for a career, yet many of our graduates still struggle to obtain meaningful employment.

In a recent survey of Boise State students (n=231), approximately 75% reported thinking about their career plans “almost daily,” and they indicated they seek career guidance from their faculty and advisors more than from Career Services. Those of you with student relationships and access to students in courses and programs have great potential to impact their future success.

Career Planning and Employability

Let’s start with a little background information on what it takes for students to successfully transition into a career. Employability requires:

  • A degree that is appropriate for the career the student intends to pursue
  • Hands-on experience outside the classroom that is directly relevant to the student’s intended career
  • A set of demonstrated professional and technical skills
  • A strong professional network within the intended career field

This means that in order to achieve professional success after graduation, students must start the career planning process early. They must explore their interests, abilities, and values as well as their academic and career options, create a career preparation plan, and Make College Count!

Incorporating Career-Related Learning Outcomes

Incorporating career-related learning outcomes into your courses and academic advising sessions will allow you to proactively address the career planning needs of your students. There are a variety of ways you can do this, and Career Services is here to support you by providing the tools and resources you need. Below you will find some ideas for incorporating career-related learning outcomes into courses and advising sessions. If you work with students in another way, please reach out to your liaison for assistance.

Career-Related Learning Outcomes in Courses

Consider one or more of the following options:

Option 1: Include career planning content in your curriculum.

Utilize resources on the front of this handout like the eLearning modules to help your students explore their career interests or start building a career preparation plan. We encourage you to look for ways to directly connect career planning topics to your existing curriculum, as this will only make the content more meaningful for your students.

Example learning outcome: You will be able to identify the steps you’ll need to take to be employable in careers of interest to you.

Option 2: Provide opportunities for career exploration around your course topic.

Introduce career options related to your course topic and discuss how to fully prepare for them, using resources such as What Can I Do With This Major, and e-books, articles, or career videos from Vault. Or, help your student learn about their career interests by reflecting upon their course experience. What are they enjoying, and what isn’t of interest? What are they doing well, and what’s challenging for them? Provide opportunities to think about what those insights mean for their career decisions and plans.

Example learning outcome: You will be familiar with a variety of career paths students who study [x discipline] go on to pursue.

Option 3: Build employability into your assignments.

Boise State has conducted extensive research on the skills critical for employability. Which do students have opportunities to develop and demonstrate in your course? When introducing assignments, discuss the skills students will use, how they’ll use them, why they matter to employers, and why practicing these skills in this project will help them be a stronger candidate for jobs. Check in on their use of these skills during and after the assignment, giving opportunities to reflect on what went well, what they learned, and where they still need to improve. Bonus points if you help them develop statements for their resumes demonstrating their use of this skill, or help them develop “stories” to use in behavioral interviews.

Example learning outcome: You will be able to tell a compelling story in an interview about a time when you worked with a team to devise an innovative solution to a problem.

Career Conversations in Advising

When your expertise isn’t in career development, the idea of asking students to talk about their career plans can be intimidating. But remember, to benefit the student, you don’t need to have all the answers; you just need to start the conversation. From there, you can guide the student to appropriate resources, whether it’s an online resource you use together, something they can explore on their own, or a referral to Career Services.

For a copy of the Advisor Resource Guide or the Career Advising Flow Chart, email

Below are some questions to use in those career conversations.

“What” Questions:

  • What classes do you enjoy, and what do you enjoy about them? What classes do you dislike, and why?
  • What classes do you do well in? What do you not do well in?
  • What did you want to “be” when you were little? What specifically was appealing about it?
  • What things are important to you in a future career?
  • What are your hobbies? Would you like to make a career out of your hobby if you could? Why or why not?
  • What do friends and family say you are good at? What types of things do they come to you for help with?
  • What is your dream career? Do you think it’s realistic? Why or why not? What characteristics of it might be found in other careers?
  • What have you enjoyed and not enjoyed about past jobs, internships, volunteer experiences, extracurricular activities, etc.?

“Why” Questions:

  • Why did you choose your major? Tell me the story of how you chose it. What do you like about it? Are there any concerns you have?
  • Why did you choose the career path you have selected? Tell me the story of how you chose it. Why do you think it’s the right fit for your interests, abilities, values, and personality type? What experiences have you had that have helped you learn this is the right fit (informational interviews, job shadows, internships, jobs, volunteer experiences, activities, etc.)?
  • Why do you want to change your major? What do you not like about your current/previous major? Tell me about the process you went through to choose your current/previous major. What do you think you’ll need to do differently this time in order to make a better decision?
  • Why are you undecided about your major and/or career path – what information do you need in order to make a decision?

“How” Questions:

  • How are you going to prepare for your career – do you know the educational requirements, the skills you’ll need, the experiences outside the classroom that will be required, and who will need to be in your professional network? Do you have a career preparation plan?
  • How will your major prepare you for your career? Are there any additional things you’ll need to do to meet the educational requirements- specific electives, minor, grad school, etc.?
  • How do you plan to get the experience required for your career? What types of opportunities (internships, Work U, volunteering, jobs, service learning, research, student organizations, study abroad, professional organizations, etc.) will you take advantage of?
  • How will you develop the professional and technical skills required for your career? What types of opportunities will you seek out to allow you to demonstrate those skills outside the classroom?
  • How will you set yourself apart from and make yourself competitive for the jobs you want – What do employers in your field value most?