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Career professionals are no strangers to data. We’ve collected numbers of participants, programs, employers, and interviews for as long as we can remember. We ask about student satisfaction and request testimonials about successful experiences. Demands for data are ever-growing, and we collect more and more numbers to anticipate the next need. But, data that we accumulate are only powerful when we put them to good use. How do we make meaningful use of data? How can we efficiently use data to demonstrate the effectiveness of services, and make informed decisions about program improvements and resource allocations?  

At The Career Center at the University of Illinois, we’ve explored interactive data dashboards that provide at-a-glance views of key information about service delivery, with a particular focus on participation and student satisfaction. The use of these dashboards has greatly enhanced our practice, from improving resource allocation, to strengthening reporting and funding requests, to informing staff development programs, and even to inspiring marketing campaigns and messaging. In the spirit of collaboration, we developed some of these dashboards using Microsoft Excel for easy distribution across career services groups with varying technical expertise and access to resources. 

On February 1, 2017, the National Career Development Association published a Feature Article, “Crowd-pleasing data management for career services: Accessible, instant, meaningful, easy,” based on our work in their web magazine, Career Convergence. We invite you to visit this article to learn more and to download sample dashboards that you can adapt to your own needs. 

Want a more personal introduction to data management with accessible dashboards? Catch our team at the upcoming National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Conference and Expo in Las Vegas, NV, in June 2017, where we’ll be presenting a session on this topic. Hope to see you there.  


Blog entry contributed by: Julia Panke Makela, Associate Director for Assessment and Research at The Career Center, jpmakela@illinois.edu 

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