DAVIS, Calif. -- Teamwork has long served a critical role for success in sports, so it comes as little surprise that UC Davis intercollegiate athletics sought to collaborate with others in growing its Aggie EVO student-athlete outcomes system. Alumni, corporate sponsors and volunteer contributors lend their collective support via the EVO Pro Team. From within campus, Dr. Michael Lorenzen enlisted a true MVP-quality ally: UC Davis' Internship and Career Center.
"We wanted to make sure that whatever we were doing was consistent with industry-best practice and consistent with what was happening on campus," said Lorenzen, the university's senior associate athletics director. "I made it a priority to meet with them and build a partnership as quickly as possible."
Already in place was a two-unit course, American Studies 95, entitled "Careers and Identity in American Culture," which ICC associate director Dr. Janice Morand has taught for the majority of her two decades with the center. Lorenzen joined forces as an AMS 95 instructor with Dr. Morand and ICC executive director Marcie Kirk-Holland in 2017-18. A year later, thanks to financial support from the Office of the Provost and its STEM Strategies program, he established a course available exclusively to Aggie student-athletes.
During the upcoming Winter 2019 quarter, the ICC will hold three sections of AMS 95: two available to all UC Davis students, plus the one for student-athletes. Morand and Dr. Bineti Vitta join Lorenzen as instructors for the ICA version of the course. "Then, with great intention, we established an independent grader so that I have nothing to do with the grading," said Lorenzen. "It's completely separate, and athletics has no influence on how well the student-athletes do in the class. That was an academic span of control and integrity that we felt was very important."
The AMS 95 course overview should ring many bells to anyone even remotely versed in the EVO system: it provides the skills, knowledge and tools required for effective career development. Students take part in self-assessments – that is, exploring which career paths are available and which are well-suited for them. They learn practical skills, such as writing résumés and cover letters, and optimizing their profiles on the professional networking site LinkedIn.
The third phase of AMS 95 allows students to put their knowledge and tools together in sharing their stories with potential employers. On the final day of instruction, professionals from various fields visit the class and meet with small groups of students to engage not in mock interviews, but rather in informal conversations during which the students can practice their networking skills.
"We called it the 'elevator speech,' said Jack Stafford, a third-year economics major and member of the UC Davis men's water polo team. "We did a lot of networking – learning how to talk to someone and marketing yourself. That was the most valuable thing to me."
Stafford, who finished the course this fall, had already taken part in the Aggie EVO system prior to enrolling in AMS 95. He met with Lorenzen on numerous occasions, and attended the April 2018 student-athlete career fair – another fruit borne of the ICA-ICC partnership. He also already had a sense of his future path: business and finance. Yet despite having a better career-development base than many students his age, Stafford thoroughly enjoyed the AMS 95 course and recommends it to any of his fellow student-athletes. "You have very passionate people teaching the class," he said. "I've grown a lot with my 10 weeks, especially with the Aggie EVO requirements. I just know a lot more. Mike and Bineti do a great job explaining how to become more knowledgable with the world of work, plus with real skills that we can use to jumpstart our careers."
For her part, Morand remains impressed with the Aggie EVO program and its goals. "It walks students through a step-by-step process, and teaches them that you can grow skills, including career-development skills. I love the idea that there are things you do as a first-year student, then you do a little more as a second-year student, and even more as a third-year. It's part of your academic experience. If I had my way, every student would be involved with career development throughout their academics. I would make it part of being an Aggie."
Morand also commended the support afforded to student-athletes by Lorenzen and his staff. Indeed, the Aggie EVO program hosts "Coffee Talk" opportunities to meet one-on-one with professionals, similar to the optional "Career Lab" the ICC pairs with the AMS 95 course. To make things more convenient, the Coffee Talks take place right before the AMS 95-ICA class meets. The student-athlete outcomes staff has also prioritized finding internship opportunities that will accommodate the demanding athletics schedule.
Finally, the ICC's partnership with Aggie EVO provides Morand with the chance to work with UC Davis' high-achieving student-athletes. "I love working with athletes," she said. "Employers often ask to connect with UC Davis athletes. Why do employers love them? Because they understand teamwork. They're coachable. If they make a mistake, they practice and get better. That happens for all of us in our careers: we practice and we get better. Athletes already have that built in.
"Athletes understand healthy competition, and in the workplace, there is a role for it. Employers recognize that. A swimmer wants to swim their best time, a personal best. Who doesn't want that from every one of their colleagues? Who doesn't want their colleague to strive for their personal best as they work on a project together? That's a pretty good characteristic."
Ultimately, Morand reiterates that all students can benefit from AMS 95. Someone who already has established a clear career goal – like Stafford – will gain a few extra tools and the skills to move toward it. However, Morand's primary target is that student who has given little to no thought as to what path he/she wishes to follow after graduation. The AMS 95 course, and its use of the design thinking methodology, will walk students through the most effective way to think about career development.
"You have to pause, you have to think what careers you're curious about, and what can you imagine yourself doing," said Morand. "You have to give yourself permission to dream."
"I recommend this class 100 percent," said Stafford. "Every student-athlete should take it by the time they graduate. It pretty much meets all of the Aggie EVO requirements, it's extremely valuable – especially if you're passionate about your career – and it really helps you find out what you want to do. It's a great course taught by great people."
MORE ON THE ICC AND AMS 95
• As of December 2018, spaces are still available for the Winter 2019 AMS 95 sections, including the student-athlete-only section (known as AMS 95-ICA)... Student-athletes looking to enroll in AMS 95-ICA should contact their Student-Athlete Outcomes advisor for the CRN... The athletics version will run on Tuesday and Thursday evenings in Hickey Gym 111.
• The Internship and Career Center is located in South Hall... A wealth of information, including the actual support materials for the AMS 95 course, can be found at icc.ucdavis.edu.
• Announcements of Aggie EVO networking opportunities, such as the regular "Coffee Talk" or the quarterly EVO Pro Networking Events, can be found via Instagram at @AggieEVO... Alumni and other professionals interested in joining the EVO Pro side of the system may contact Liz Martin (firstname.lastname@example.org or 530/752-7326) or visit ucdavisaggies.com/sb_output.aspx?form=10.
ABOUT UC DAVIS
Providing a small-town community feel while providing a world-class academic experience, UC Davis is home to more than 37,000 students and centrally located between San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and the Napa Valley. The No. 6-ranked public university in the nation according to the Wall Street Journal, and among the top 10 public universities nationwide according to U.S. News and World Report, UC Davis offers nearly 100 graduate programs and more than 100 academic majors across four colleges and six professional schools, ranking among the world and nation's best in numerous disciplines, including veterinary science, agriculture, and plant and animal programs.
ABOUT UC DAVIS: Providing a small-town community feel while providing a world-class academic experience, UC Davis is home to more than 37,000 students and centrally located between San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and the Napa Valley. The No. 5-ranked public university in the nation according to the Wall Street Journal, and among the top 10 public universities nationwide according to U.S. News and World Report, UC Davis offers nearly 100 graduate programs and more than 100 academic majors across four colleges and six professional schools, ranking among the world and nation's best in numerous disciplines, including veterinary science, agriculture, and plant and animal programs.