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With more than 6,000 followers on Twitter, Career Services is now taking full advantage of the Internet Age.

Career Services has recently been making a huge social media push, particularly on its main Twitter page, @PennCareerServ. Along with its other outreach efforts, Career Services is also interested in hearing student feedback on its Twitter page through several surveys posted as links on the feed.

These new surveys reflect an attempt to assess what students like about the four Career Services Twitter feeds.

“We are anxious to continually improve what we do,” Director of Career Services Patricia Rose said.

To ensure maximal feedback, Career Services is direct messaging all of its 6,000-plus followers and urging them to take the assessment surveys. This reaches “[Penn] students, students that are outside of the University of Pennsylvania, staff and faculty,” enabling Career Services to hear from a broad range of people not directly affiliated with the University, said Shannon Kelly, an associate director at Career Services.

Kelly manages the office’s social media output and has managed its Twitter feeds since their inception about three years ago.

Despite this wave of outreach, response has not been as enthusiastic. At this point, the response rate to the assessment surveys has been a “trickle,” Kelly said, with only about 85 responses recorded so far.

The poor response rate may be linked to a number of factors, she added, like a technical glitch in early December and the time-consuming and diverting nature of finals, which likely reduced the number of active Twitter participants.

The recent surveys are part of a larger ongoing process that began in October and will continue through the academic year.

In hopes of continued progress with its feedback mission, Career Services is trying to expand the methods through which it collects data, and is pushing the initiative more this semester than it had been previously.

“We’ve really been strongly growing our following and have defined our strategy more clearly, so we felt it was time to take an assessment and see: are we meeting students needs, are we sharing enough information that’s relevant and hitting on the different populations we serve,” Kelly said. As a central department for the entire university, Career Services works with undergraduate and graduate students as well as alumni.

The assessment surveys posted on PennCareerServ will be used to develop relevant content on all four Twitter pages, including PennCareerJobs, which posts individual job position opportunities and drives people to the Career Services job board; PennCareerHire, which connects students with potential employers; and PennCareerDay, which allows alumni in certain fields to tweet for a day.

This last Twitter “is particularly useful,” as it allows students to “get a flavor for what a job is actually like,” Rose said. Career Services won a 2012 National Association of Colleges and Employers Technology Award for the “Career Day” Twitter feed, which launched in February 2010. According to Rose, @PennCareerDay has been very well received and has encouraged other schools to implement the concept.

The other impetus for increased and improved Twitter content is to “show how social media can be a really great resource for professional development in general,” Kelly said.

“More employers are active on social media now, and they’re posting to Twitter to show when they’re going to be on campus,” she added.

For some students, though, social media is not at the forefront of their communication with the University. College junior Yu Sakai does not have a Twitter account and thus has not seen the bulk of Career Services’ social media influence. He is, however, on the Career Services listserv.

“The emails are good enough for me,” he said.

Behind the student feedback reaped from Twitter and other platforms is a Social Media Advisory Board — a group of six students, both undergraduates and graduates, that meets monthly to provide additional and direct responses to support the broader assessment tools employed on the social media networks themselves.

Chair of the Advisory Board and Wharton senior Lin Yuan noted that the “main goal of the Board is to make sure Career Services is using social media in a way that students want to see and also to educate students on how they can use social media themselves in their job search.”

Kelly affirmed this aim, saying, “We want to make sure that we’re sharing the right content out there, that we’re looking for new resources.”

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