Office of Academic and Career Development wins CDPI award through “gamifying” Generation Z program


After all of their tireless hard work and dedication to their student-centric program, the Office of Academic and Career Development (ACD) won the 2019 CDPI Career Services Innovation Award. The award was given to ACD for their extensive two-fold initiative addressing Generation Z students’ need for an improved support system in their career development. These initiatives included “gamifying” career development concepts and also creating a program to assist students’ support network. In addition, the Friends and Family program that is offered during summer orientation specializes in helping friends, faculty, and families to feel empowered in supporting students’ career development process through their undergraduate experience.

The 2019 CDPI Career Services Innovation Award is awarded to a career professional or career team who has addressed a challenge, problem, or issue facing the profession with an innovative change or improvement. To address this challenge, the career consulting staff within University College at IUPUI has spent the last two years developing innovative, proactive approaches for the institution’s first-year and second-year student population. ACD’s new initiatives were created as a response to that challenge, and they have garnered both institutional and, recently, national attention by sharing their program through the NCDA conference. Melissa Cooper, a senior career consultant for ACD, is proud of her team: “In the past three years, four of us have received individual awards for our work, and this award for programming is just the icing on the cake. We are stronger and better together. I am so proud and honored to work with these colleagues every day.”

To encourage a relaxed and entertaining atmosphere in the “gamifying” initiative, staff members developed a gaming type method for career development concepts. Classroom instructors now have access to games such as Career Taboo, Career Telestrations, and Family Feud. These games help students better understand the breadth of major and career options available to them, encourage them to think creatively about the importance of transferable skills, and start to suggest that, in many industries, their choice of major largely does not matter. When asked about her thoughts on this new game-infused programming, the newest ACD team member, Kerry Lay, said, “As a new professional in general, I think it is so awesome that there are ways for our work to be recognized because I think what we are doing is really cool. We are always looking for new and creative ways to engage our students, so I’m sure we are not stopping here; we will continue to grow and try to make this college thing a little less hectic for IUPUI students.”

Another approach to the issue of better engaging Generation Z in meaningful career development experiences is tapping into their support systems. During summer orientations, the career consultant staff are engaged with the friends and family members that accompany students as guests. While students are registering for classes, staff invite the guests to participate in the Friends and Family program. During this program, guests are able to achieve a deeper understanding of the choices that their students will face when it comes to selecting a major and career path; by examining career development statistics and studies, families and friends will be better equipped to support their students through those difficult moments.

Karley Clayton shared her thoughts on being part of this initiative and how their work is being received with admiration: “Being recognized by our colleagues from across Indiana with the Innovation in Career Services award is incredibly affirming—it reminds us that the creative work the career team is doing in University College is positively impacting our students and their career development. I feel fortunate to be on a team that is always working to improve existing resources and willing to pilot new initiatives to best serve our students and the IUPUI community.”

Keely Floyd, another career consultant, believes that the project will go far: “I think the most meaningful part of this award for me is that, as a team, we have a lot of fun brainstorming and creating new things, and this award is feedback that others find the things we create to be meaningful. I think it tells us that we are on the right track as far as new approaches to working with our students and will certainly encourage us to continue trying new things in the future.”

All four career consultants mentioned attended the National Career Development Association conference in Houston on June 27 and presented some of their recent projects. Clayton and Lay did a workshop featuring some of the games that were created for their two-fold initiative, and Cooper and Floyd presented about a unique way their department interacts with students’ support systems. Both of these presentations were developed from their new program initiatives, proving that the audience for their work is national and continues to grab attention.


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 For more information about the CDPI award visit:

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