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Valparaiso Law School Launches Mobile Student Career Planner
- By Dian Schaffhauser
A law school at an Indiana university has just released a mobile app specifically to help its students get through the arduous steps of earning their degrees and planning their careers.
The Valparaiso Online Law Tracker (VOLT) mobile website from Valparaiso University is a new tool designed to help students with career planning. VOLT, which works on Android and Apple devices, offers a sequence of career planning steps for first year law students. It includes the following functions:
- An overview of career planning milestones;
- A graphical measurement integrated with the law school's recruiting system, so students can view their progress;
- An interface designed to encourage students to complete each milestone; and
- A one-page overview of the student's current year-to-date status.
A scorecard of important steps allows the user to click each option to learn more. A student's progress is benchmarked against the rest of the class to create a sense of "healthy competition." VOLT also connects the user to the law school's career planning center, with job-finding tactics and job posts. In addition, VOLT connects users to social business site LinkedIn, the law school's calendar of events, and a weekly student newsletter.
The university believes that VOLT is the first tool developed specifically to help a student in planning his or her law career. The app was developed after about a year of planning. The university created the specifications; the app itself was developed by an external digital marketing agency.
"Our student and alumni focus groups told us that very early in their education, students want to be presented with the list of tasks and steps that are important for career preparation and for taking the bar exam," said law school Dean Jay Conison. "All that and more is included in VOLT."
The same focus groups also made clear that the preferred reading mode for students was through a mobile device.
Although the first release was specifically intended for first year (1L) students, according to Christopher Childers, senior executive director of markets, recruiting, and careers, by January 2013 the university will also release editions with features for second year and third year law students.
"1l needs basic career guidance, on how to become a law professional," he said. 3L students, on the other hand, "begin to develop more of an understanding of where they want their careers to go--if you want to become an [intellectual property] attorney vs. a litigator, here are the things you need to do..."
The university has also bolstered staffing in its career planning center and is about to launch a campaign specifically to promote the school and its students to potential employers.
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.