Col McCowan has been Head of Careers & Employment at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) for the past 15 years. Recently his circumstances changed and he now works part-time at the same service and also makes significant contributions to selected University projects such as; the Student ePortfolio* Project, the Work Integrated Learning Project, the Transition Out Project and the Career Development Modules Project.
He is a registered psychologist, teacher and counsellor who has worked in a variety of roles in the education industry for over 40 years - in areas such as practitioner, academic, consultant, researcher, manager, and principal policy officer for both State and Commonwealth governments. He was also responsible for the formal introduction of the focus on first year experience at QUT.
His service at QUT has won national best practice awards, he himself won the 2004 National Excellence in Career Counselling Award and in 2006 he was awarded an Order of Australia for service to the career industry in Australia. He is on the Editorial Board of the Australian Journal of Career Development and has authored three books, the latest being ‘Working the Web; Career planning via the Internet". He has undertaken two consultancies for UNESCO in the country of Bhutan and another in the country of Oman.
His other special interests are in generational research and research on decision making processes.
[*The QUT Student E-Portfolio is a tool designed to enable students to record, reflect on, catalogue, retrieve and present their experiences, activities, and products - from both inside and outside university - as evidence of their skills relevant to their lifelong learning and career development.]
Fables from afar: Managing new environments
Col McCowan OAM
Queensland University of Technology
Four student case studies will be used to set the scene for the ensuing two days. They will remind us that our students are not ‘aliens from afar’ but real humans from mother earth who come to our institutions with understandable needs, wants and desires. Particularly, they have a very real and personal stake in the Symposium’s subject matter. In common with all those around them, including the educationalists and managers represented at this Symposium, commencing students have significant issues of their own to negotiate. Each one of us – every academic, professional staff member, institutional leader and student – has a responsibility in this environment to understand and manage known transition hotspots such as: diverse expectations, decision taking styles, levels of anxiety, fears and uncertainties, a strong focus on outcomes, a desire for relevance, a wish to shine, a need for self management, effective resource and support provision, and a fundamental requirement to balance work, rest and play. In the first year arena, all of us, students and staff alike, are managing new environments.