New Course Charts Career Skills
Is a college degree worth the cost in today’s economy? That tough question is being asked by a go-getter generation of students — and their parents.
The answer is “absolutely.” At least for Bentley grads.
So says Career Services’ Alyssa Hammond. And her conviction is not riding on the coattails of Bentley’s high-ranking career services and impressive job placement rate. The launch of a ground-breaking course — Career Development Introduction (CDI) 101 — is giving students a career toolkit and a chance to strut their stuff in front of corporate recruiters.
It is designed and taught by career advisers in partnership with business professionals from top companies like KPMG and TJX Corporation. Lecture and lab components for each class cover:
- Personal and professional goal development
- Interactive lab sessions on résumé and cover letter writing and interviewing skills
- Networking and using social media
- Internship preparation and professionalism
- Four-year timeline (Bentley’s HIRE Education career path) It captures students as early as freshman year.
“Once you understand yourself in terms of personal and professional values and skills, you can identify goals and make a plan,” Hammond says.
The initial class does the first part, using a Strong Interest Inventory® Code Assessment. Are you enterprising, social, or realistic? There are different types of careers that complement specific codes. You leave knowing what your strong interest is now — and for the future (according to Hammond, interests at age 18 will remain consistent throughout life).
“We want you to go into a career path that interests you; not because your parents want you to or because that’s where money is or because that’s a hot career,” she explains. “Because guess what? What’s hot today isn’t going to be hot five or 10 years from now.”
David Lucey, director of campus recruiting at Epsilon, agrees. “The most important take-away is the realization that finding the right job is a journey. Very rarely do you have your career planned as a freshman. This is a step toward that discovery.”
Education Beats Advice
The course is far from traditional career advising. Hammond calls it career education.
“It’s an educational response to the increasing demand from students and employers for a structured, uniform, mandated delivery of career tools,” Hammond explains. “It prepares you to not only enter the unknown world of the job recruitment process, but to succeed in it.”
Millennials have been characterized as driven, motivated and highly confident, so employers expect it. Corporate recruiters attend select classes to deliver face-to-face advice.
“Where else can you find yourself in front of a Big Four accounting firm or leading corporation?” Hammond asks.
In addition to KPMG and TJX, participating companies include The Hartford, Enterprise Holdings, EMC, Liberty Mutual, Boston Scientific, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Grant Thornton, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
“Mock interviews were a great way to practice a spontaneous meeting with an employer,” says junior Dylan Powell of his meeting with Vistaprint.
“The classroom provides a safe environment to improve interviewing skills before applying for an actual internship or job,” says Diana Frascella, manager of campus recruiting at Vistaprint. “Students have great stories to tell, but they need to learn to articulate their abilities in the best way possible”
A Balanced Approach
The initiative is one of the first among colleges. The goal is twofold: to prevent students from falling through the cracks; and to pioneer a new kind of career education.
“For every one student who is a career go-getter during freshman year, there will be two who will wait until junior or senior year,” she says. “This course makes their lives easier – and my life easier – by getting them right out of the gate to avoid fast-tracking.”
In a sense, it’s the perfect balance between “helicopter parenting” and “independence.” Building a strong foundation means less hand-holding and more confidence.
While the course is not required, it is strongly encouraged. And students get it. Nearly 90 percent of freshmen signed on for spring 2013. Successful completion provides a non-academic credit and appears on their school transcripts. It also opens the door for a one-credit internship course.
In the driver’s seat
You can’t control the economy or the latest hot job, but you can control what you do to prepare for the unknown.
The bottom line: Get the right information and take responsibility. These are life skills, not a one-time deal, says Hammond.
“You will use the skills over and over again; after graduation, changing jobs, getting laid off, advancing, or looking for a new job. This is not just a class. It is the beginning of a lifetime of career management.”