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Career Management Center Adopts Telepresence Technology to Enhance Student-Employer Communication

By Erin Mills, Bo Yi and Steven Young

Old Dominion University's Career Management Center is now able to use telepresence technology in its award-winning Cyber Career Center, offering two-way communication for students, alumni and prospective employers using the CMC's services.

The use of telepresence expands the breadth and depth of the CMC's online capabilities, so two-way communication between clients of the center and other locations can be truly interactive.

"This capability is not just about new technology, but in how we bring students and employers into our classes and presentations, and how we take students to places that they cannot physically visit and engage with people they would not typically interact with," said Tom Wunderlich, CMC executive director.

Telepresence refers to a set of technologies that allows individuals to feel as if they were present, to give the appearance of being present, or to have an effect, via telerobotics, at a place other than their true location. Telepresence requires that the user's senses be provided with such stimuli as to give the feeling of being in that other location.

The use of telepresence adds to the video-streaming technology that CMC has been using for career-focused communication, such as an employer originating from their laptop to the CMC and students asking questions by chat.

Through the CMC, and using these technologies, ODU students can be connected to educational and career resources, providing a way for them to experience a wide range of developmentally appropriate content and interaction with career and employer personnel, minimizing the barriers of time and accessibility.

Presentations can be broadcast by a Cyber Career Center staff member to an individual employer, a company, an individual student or a class. Employers can conduct a presentation at ODU's Norfolk campus to be viewed by distance learning students as far away as Washington state, or abroad, or in reverse from any employer location in the world back to the CMC.

Assistant Director Nakia Madry said the CMC has purchased a camera for its interview rooms, to provide more opportunities for students to meet prospective employers at a distance. Madry said telepresence capability will grow more popular and vital in the future, "particularly in working with alumni and graduate students. These individuals often prefer to engage via email or converse digitally rather than visit in person."

One of the greatest features of this technology is it is familiar to distance learning students, as it is the same technology they use to take distance learning classes with ODU, Madry said.

By working with a familiar technology, the CMC's student clients may be more confident and likely to use it. For the employer, the appeal lies in the fact that no investment in special equipment is needed; a laptop or mobile device with camera is all that is needed in order to effectively connect and communicate.

As an ODU education becomes ever more global, far more possibilities may present themselves for telepresence technology. ODU students can participate in international and national opportunities for classes and internship experiences, and create alumni and employer contacts that span the globe.

This technology will become increasingly relevant and necessary in the future job market, Wunderlich said. "Telepresence through the Career Management Center is just the beginning of the types of opportunities we hope to provide clients as a way to connect to employment and career services from across the campus to all over the world," he said.

The ODU Career Management Center and its award-winning Cyber Career Center offer drop-in service, scheduled appointments and career assistance from a distance to ODU students, staff, faculty and alumni, as well as prospective employers.

For more information visit the CMC website at: www.odu.edu/cmc.

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