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Giving a Face to Campus Career Services

by Laura Henshaw

Career Services at Brock University, Ontario, had a busy year in 2008. The department changed its location and launched a Facebook page for their newly designed avatar, Jack McIsaac. An avatar is a graphical image that represents a person and can be used for gaming purposes such as online games or video games, or non-gaming purposes like Facebook or Second Life. Jack was – and continues to be – a great help in getting the word out about the Career Services’ location, resources and events.


Jack’s Beginnings


As the newest member of the Career Services team, Jack was developed to help Brock students with their career related inquiries, whether it was figuring out what a student could do with their degree or how to land a job interview with a great résumé. Time and effort on the part of Lisa Kuiper, the Employer Developer Coordinator and Emily Hutton, the Events Assistant was put into designing Jack. The model for Jack was Wil Fraser, the avatar that represents Simon Fraser University’s Career Services and Co-Op. SFU was the first university in Canada to develop an avatar for a Co-op Career Centre.


Working with Jack


While working as a Senior Career Assistant for Brock’s Career Services, I was involved with event and service promotions and part of this included co-managing Jack’s profile page. A life-size cardboard cut-out of Jack was created so we could bring him around campus with us as we did promotions. I found this cutout of Jack to be particularly helpful because he easily caught students’ attention.


We asked students to add Jack as a friend to their Facebook pages. We had laptops at the promotions booth so students were able to add him right away. While students did so, we took the opportunity to tell them about Experience Plus, a transcript which tracks student’s on-campus jobs, volunteering, skills and more while at Brock. If they registered, they were entered to win an iPod touch.


As students signed up to be Jack’s friend we assured them that there would be no sending of mass messages, but rather it would be an opportunity for them to ask Jack a question by posting on his wall if they couldn’t make it into the Career Resource Centre, or to learn about upcoming events and workshops.


Throughout the year we used Jack at booths to promote other services, such as Canada Career Week and the Post-Graduate and Career Expo. We also used Jack’s Facebook profile to promote these events in advance. Additionally, Jack posted pictures and summaries of the events that he attended around campus to his page. I found the “notes” section on Facebook to be particularly helpful for these summaries as they were easy to find but didn’t bombard his page – or his friends’ – with too much information.


While I’m not managing Jack’s profile page anymore he continues to provide status updates for all of his friends about what’s happening around campus. There have even been contests for students to find Jack on campus and his profile page was used to help promote the contests. Brock’s Career Services is now in their third year of using Jack McIsaac as a promotional tool, and with almost 500 friends, I’d say that Jack is a popular addition to the department.


Laura Henshaw graduated from the Career and Work Counsellor Program at George Brown College in December 2010. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Psychology and Minor in Geography from Brock University. Laura worked for the Career Services department at Brock University from 2007-2009 and in 2010 she completed two practicum placements at York University’s Career Centre and CERIC’s ContactPoint.

Laura Henshaw

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