The International Students Career Services (ISCS) was first conceptualized and initiated in 2001 by five pioneering women (Dr. Mary J. Heppner, Mae-hyang Hwang, Maki Obana, Sing Chee Wong, & Eunjoo Yang). Though small, this service provided invaluable information for internationals on the MU campus. In addition, they published an article in a journal (Yang, Wong, Hwang, & Heppner, 2002) detailing their model of career services However, due to problems with continuation of volunteer staffing, the original programmed was ended within one year.
Individuals Involved in Program Revitalization and Expansion
Even though the program was ended at 2002, the spirit and passion of providing culturally appropriate career services to international students did not fade away. The program was revitalized in 2005 under the guidance and support of Drs. Puncky Heppner, Mary Heppner, Joe Johnston, as well as three graduate students, Hillary Fuhrman, Sharon Lee, and Yi-Jiun Lin, all of the Department of Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology. With the instrumental support from the Vice Provost, Dr. Handy Williamson, and Interim Vice Provost, Dr. Michael Prewitt, ISCS was able to initially obtain three quarter-time graduate assistantships, and a semester later, expanded to a campus office staffed with one full-time coordinator (Sharon Lee) and five graduate assistants.
ISCS Establishment, Implement, and Maintenance
ISCS is an example of innovative programming that addresses culturally-specific needs of underserved populations on college campus. From its establishment, implementation, and maintenance stages, many steps were taken to ensure its stability and quality. First, to tailor our services to our international clientele, two focus groups were conducted in 2004. Information pertaining to international students’ perceived barriers from utilizing pre-existing career services as well as students’ desired topics and formats of services were collected. This information not only validated the needs for culturally sensitive career services for international students but also was extremely instrumental in shaping the mission and services of ISCS. Second, to ensure the longevity of the program, efforts were devoted to seeking long-term financial support and collaboration with other offices such as International Student Center, MU Career Center, Asian Affairs Center, etc. Third, to address both the unique career needs of international students and diverse needs within various international groups, various topics (e.g., how to write American style resume, interviewing skills, etiquette dinner norms) and venues (e.g, walk-in consultation, individual counseling, job search group, international alumni panel,) were made available for the international clientele. Fourth, to ensure the service quality, all of the ISCS staff members received weekly supervision from Dr. Puncky Heppner, the co-director of the Coalition for the CCC. Through critical self-examination and constant evaluation, the provision of culturally appropriate services was monitored.
In fall of 2006, the evaluative data indicated that over one third of MU international students had utilized ISCS services in that particular semester alone. The mean score of the total evaluation scale was 8.24 on a 10-point Likert Scale (1= strongly disagree; 10= strongly agree). This remarkable number appeared to reflect both the career needs of international students on campus and the quality of ISCS services. Currently, ISCS has grown into a model program serving the unique needs of both international students and Americans seeking to work abroad.