Published October 21, 2020
It started as an innovative idea for helping students succeed at their career goals during a pandemic. A collaboration with UBIT made it a reality.
UB Career Services provides an essential service to UB students, helping them plan for a fulfilling career with in-person career coaching, practice interviews, job and internship fairs and more.
Given the impact of COVID-19, helping students prepare for life after college is more important than ever—but it’s also more challenging. How could Career Services continue to deliver the level of personalized service that students at UB have come to expect and rely on?
Before the pandemic, Career Services had experimented with using technology to enhance their services; they incorporated live chat into their website, started offering AI-assisted instant resume reviews and helped students connect to employers online through Bullseye powered by Handshake.
Their next big idea: make it possible for Career Services’ staff to greet students who stop by their offices in Capen Hall, and answer their questions, virtually and in real time using a large, interactive display. The system would allow them to keep their services running without sacrificing safety or their trademark personal touch.
Ken Stephens, Client Technologies Technician for UBIT Customer Service, received an email in early July from Career Services’ Judith Applebaum, the department lead on technology integration, explaining the idea and asking what it would take to make it happen.
“They had all the technology they needed,” Ken said. But they needed guidance to set the system up and make sure it met the needs of their office.
For Ken, the setup wouldn’t pose a challenge. “It essentially is similar to connecting a laptop to a TV or an external monitor,” he said. The real challenge was working on the project among the other demands and stresses of the COVID-19 work environment.
Nonetheless, a few meetings with Career Services’ staff was all it took for the plan to come together. Ken set up a recurring Zoom meeting that staff could join to greet students who stopped by the office, and the team set up a schedule to make sure someone would be available for students during regular business hours.
After the successful initial setup, Ken Stephens continued to work with Career Services to help hone their vision, focusing on smaller details like making sure the cabling was hidden in order to make a more welcoming space for students.
“Ken was always a step ahead in the design of a seamless experience, not only for students but for the staff using the technology” said Jenna Smith, Career Services’ Coordinator of Assessment and Marketing. “The entire process wasn’t possible without Ken’s quick and creative thinking.”
According to Jenna, not only was Career Services able to maintain a personal connection to the students they serve, but in many ways strengthen their connection to the students, and to each other.
“This allowed our staff to empathize more with visitors,” Jenna said, “and we learned we can work very well as a team to develop creative solutions using technology.”
“I absolutely love the way that this turned out,” said Ken. “There is a feel to it that makes it as though you are taking part in a real in-person interaction. I’m glad I could be a part of it.”
Have an innovative idea for getting things done in the age of COVID? Contact the UBIT Help Center to start a conversation about how UB’s technology tools and experts can help make it happen.