Within SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities & Sciences, students not only receive a comprehensive liberal arts education; They also have an edge in career preparedness. Through the Dedman Edge, students can supplement their education by focusing on skills frequently demanded by employers. These skills include graphic design, marketing, social media, data science/analysis, and more. Dr. Nancy Campbell with the sociology department is using the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification program to integrate the Dedman Edge directly into her courses.
In January, Dr. Campbell launched a new course called The Sociologist’s Toolkit. This course included weekly seminars with guest speakers largely focusing on strengthening students’ embrace and articulation of their identity as sociologists as well as practical skills needed in the workforce. In addition, students were asked to complete two Microsoft Office certifications to validate technical skills and grant students an opportunity to showcase their certifications on their resume. In total, 15 Microsoft Office Specialist certifications were issued in Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, and Word.
“Students were so delighted to take a class that supports them in being able to confidently answer that age-old question – ‘What will you do with that major?’” according to Dr. Campbell. Included in the course material were discussions and applications to synthesize their years of sociological training from a wide variety of courses in order to speak to employer interests. They also learned practical skills regarding job searches, job applications and interviewing along with a wonderful opportunity to certify in Microsoft programs. Dr. Campbell is pleased with the course’s outcome and says, “The industry-standard certifications bolster the students’ resumes and further demonstrate that sociology majors have practical as well as intellectual skills that make them valuable employees. Of course, the world needs more sociologists in all workplaces!”
When asked about her experience obtaining the Microsoft Office Specialist certifications, Emma Staak, a Senior Sociology and Psychology double major shared, “The Microsoft Certifications were a great way to become more familiar in programs that I use on a daily basis. It took me about two weeks to practice for each certification before the test. I have since referenced my skills in interviews with employers and even got to showcase my acquired PowerPoint skills for my end of the semester presentation in Dr. Campbell’s class. It is a fantastic resource, looks great on resumes, and I know I will use it in my work in graduate school at SMU Cox in the Fall!”
The Microsoft Office Specialist pilot program launched in Fall, 2017. Currently, the pilot program has been extended for an additional academic year. Faculty who are interested in learning more about offering Microsoft Office certifications to students as extra credit or part of a course requirement should contact Laurene Klassen at firstname.lastname@example.org.