Literature Reviews

Views and Suggestions on the Career Center based on the Perspective of Chinese Undergraduate Students in the UW-Madison School of Education (SoE)

Zhan Shi, Yimeng Sun, Magnolia Zhang                                                                                                                                Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions (CCWT)                                                                                          University of Wisconsin Madison

Literature Review #6                                                                                                                                                Globalization is a process at work in our present-day interconnected world, evident in advanced technology that enables easy cross-border communications, accessible and affordable transportation, and frequent international cooperation. Due to this, it also facilitates an increasing number of students who choose to study abroad. The substantial number of international students around the world demonstrates how higher education is a global enterprise. In fact, the number of students pursuing higher education degrees in foreign countries more than doubled between 2000 and 2017 to reach 5.3 million (Bound et al., 2021), and it is likely that this studying abroad trend will only flourish further. As Bohm, Davis, Meares, and Pearce (2002) recently argued, international students enrolled in institutions of higher education will probably exceed 7 million by 2025 (Cudmore, 2005).

Among international students who attend universities in the United States, a leading destination for foreign-born students, Chinese students constitute one of the largest groups (Yan and Berliner, 2011). The educational exchanges between the U.S. and China can be traced back to the late 1970s when the government of the People’s Republic of China promoted modernization by international scholarly and technological exchanges, which further facilitated US-China educational exchanges (Yan and Berliner, 2011). After additional agreements between the two countries on the international scholarly exchange programs, more Chinese students pursued their degrees in the U.S. In the academic year of 2008-2009, there were 98,510 students from China enrolled in higher education institutions in the U.S. (Yan and Berliner, 2011). In the 2019-2020 academic year, the number rose to 372,000, accounting for 35% of the total international student population in the world (McGregor, 2021). At the University of Wisconsin Madison (UW-Madison), in 2020-2021, the number of Chinese international undergraduates was 1,813, which accounted for 60 percent of total international undergraduates at the university. These data indicated that Chinese students represent the largest group of international undergraduates at UWMadison and thus deserve attention from the university.

Because international students enter a globalized world and face worldwide competition, they are focusing more on attention to their career development and employability to ensure their competitiveness in the labor market and to have sustainability in their long-term career development. In this paper, we define employability as the knowledge of labor markets and related academic fields, and the social relationships and resources related to career development that could help students gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations. For international students, employability is the information and knowledge needed to compete in a global labor market and the social networks that they may be unable to access in their home countries and that they may lack in their place of study. International students start to find internships and part-time jobs as early as in their second and third years in universities, and after graduation, they will face choices of staying where they study or going back to their home countries. These factors and concerns about employability contribute to the need for career services at campuses like UWMadison to help international students with their career development.

On the website of the School of Education (SoE) Career Center at UW-Madison, the vision of the career center is described as, “Equipping all School of Education students to successfully launch and exceed their career expectations”, which reflects a goal of helping students develop career ideas and goals after graduations and enhance their employability.

Even though there are increasing amounts of international students in U.S. higher education institutions, especially those from China, little scholarly attention is given to Chinese international students’ experiences with campus career centers and whether they are helping to enhance their employability. Instead, more attention has been paid to local U.S. students. For example, Hart (2019) illuminates how employers in the career service offices in the U.S. midwestern public universities understand the value of their work and help students to increase their employability and address local American students with perspectives of staff in the career centers. Indeed, there are some studies where international students are the focus of campus career-related initiatives, such as Terzaroli and Oyekunle (2019) and Fakunle (2021) who examine the experiences of international students in career centers at universities in Nigeria and some European countries. Yet, few studies highlight the experiences of Chinese international students with career centers in U.S. universities. In this paper, we discuss the career development needs of Chinese international students’ perspectives that we hope will help to fill this gap in the literature.

Our paper aims to explore Chinese international students’ career development needs and whether the SoECareer Center at UW-Madison can help them with their needs. This project will first present interviews with seven undergraduate Chinese students in the School of Education at the UW-Madison in the U.S. that show their real experiences in the SoE Career Center. Next, relating students’ perceptions about their career pathways and the help they need to develop these pathways to their experiences in the SoE Career Center, this paper will then discuss limitations of the SoE Career Center’s approach to supporting Chinese international students’ career development needs. This article concludes with some specific suggestions to both the SoE Career Center and the SoE leadership based on feedback given by our interviewees, which might be useful for career advisors to improve their services. The suggestions could also allow SoE leadership to get a better understanding of the employability-related needs of Chinese students in the School of Education, which could advance the development of employability for Chinese students.

What can we learn from longitudinal studies on the impacts of college internships?

Fangjing Tu
Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions (CCWT)
University of Wisconsin Madison

Literature Review #5
Internships have been widely considered as co-curricular opportunities that benefit students with hands-on work experience, smooth transitions to the labor market, and potentially better compensation. Current studies on the impacts of internship participation are mostly cross-sectional. Only a few studies in the research literature employ longitudinal research methodologies. Longitudinal research can be used to measure and understand the long-term effects of internship participation for students. It also provides more robust evidence for causal interpretations of internship effects. This literature review summarizes the main findings and insights from 11 longitudinal studies on the impact of internship participation, aiming to contribute to the knowledge about the long-term benefits and causal processes of college internships.

Graduating during a recession: A literature review of the effects of recessions for college graduates

Javier Rodríguez S., Jared Colston, Zhixuan Wu, and Zi Chen
Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions (CCWT)
University of Wisconsin Madison

Literature Review #4
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a halt of the economy worldwide. The U.S. job market experienced an unprecedented downturn due to the pandemic-caused recession beginning in March 2020. As a consequence, thousands of jobs across industries now face wage cuts. The unemployment rate rose above 20% in April with a temporary layoff share close to 80% (Bartik, 2020; Cajner et al., 2020). The future of hundreds of thousands of college graduates transitioning from college to the labor market has thus become a matter of great concern for students, career advisors, higher education officials, and policy makers.

Research on the work trajectories of those who graduate during economic recessions can provide insights into how college graduates’ lives are affected by finishing school and starting their working lives in the middle of a weak economy. Additionally, available evidence about what has taken place in previous recessions can inform potential strategies for students, administrators, and policy makers to cope with the economic uncertainty and career search obstacles caused by the pandemic.

In this literature review, we present a summary of the main findings from this body of research, aiming to contribute to the conversation about what students can expect and do as they start their professional lives in these difficult times.

A document summary is also available: Highlights of the literature review on the effects of graduating during a recession for college graduates: main findings and practical implications

Psychosocial Factors and Outcomes of College Internships: An Integrative Review

Iseult Gillespie, Jiahong Zhang, and Matthew Wolfgram
Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions (CCWT)
University of Wisconsin Madison

Literature Review #3
This review identifies key features of psychosocial factors and outcomes associated with internship participation for college students. The review examined 42 studies, the majority being quantitative and cross-sectional in design. Results indicate that a) since 2010 there has been an increase in the number of empirical studies of the psychosocial factors and outcomes of college internships in the education research, psychology and career development fields; b) The studies commonly focused on internships in business, tourism, and sport management fields; c) The authors cite a broad range of theoretical frameworks, including career construction theory (Ocampo et al., 2020; Pan et al., 2018), social learning theory (Anjun, 2020) and the job characteristics model (Stansbie et al., 2013); d) This review of the research identified several student psychosocial characteristics that may influence internship experiences and outcomes, such as emotional intelligence, proactivity, self-efficacy, and conscientiousness; e) there were positive relationships between internship participation and a number of psychological outcomes. These included psychological outcome measures such as increases in self-perception, perception of surroundings, and mental health indicators, career development outcome measures such as professional development, career adaptability, career commitment, and career exploration, and learning outcome measures such as GPA and skill development. These findings indicate that internships have profound psychosocial ramifications that should be taken into account in their design and assessment. The review may be beneficial to researchers, educators and policy-makers seeking to optimize student internships from a psychosocial perspective. Recommendations for future research and practice are suggested.

Community-Based Participatory Action Research

Baily Smolarek & Matthew Wolfgram
Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions (CCWT)
University of Wisconsin Madison

Literature Review #2
The Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions is conducting three student-led Community-Based Participatory Action Research (CBPAR) projects which involve our staff mentoring students of color in the social science research process, to develop a research inquiry into how students of color experience college and the transition to work. One CBPAR projects is with African American students at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, another is with students with immigrant backgrounds at Madison College, and the third project is with HMoob American students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The studies at UW-Whitewater and Madison College are in their preliminary stages, whereas the study at UW-Madison with HMoob American students is concluding a round of data collection and starting analysis of the data. To illustrate how CBPAR works in action, in the following sections, we describe how we have used it at UW-Madison with HMoob American undergraduate students.

Workplace Training and Cognitive, Intra- and Inter-personal Skills: A Literature Review

Sophia Slocum & Matthew T. Hora
Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions (CCWT)
University of Wisconsin Madison

Literature Review #1
This summary of the research literature on workplace training activities focused on cognitive, inter- and intrapersonal skills is the first in a series of literature reviews published by the Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions (CCWT) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. These brief summaries of the empirical literatures are intended to provide scholars and professionals engaged in research, policymaking and practice on college-work issues with insights into the nature and scope of research on topics central to contemporary college-workforce debates and strategies.