Monday, May 24, 2010

Building a Career, Not Finding a Job

A really interesting article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Kathryn Masterson, dated May 16, 2010:

Finished College. Now What?
Wake Forest aids the aimless graduate with a road map for meaningful work

What do you plan to do after graduation?

For thousands of college students accepting diplomas this spring, it's a question loaded with expectations and pressure to make good use of a costly degree.

Wake Forest University wants students to think differently about how they answer, focusing on what kind of work is meaningful to them rather than what pays the most or what others want. (snip)

Too often, students' career choices are based on uninformed ideas about certain jobs, on chance encounters with people in different fields, or on what others have told them they should do, says Andy Chan, the university's vice president for career development, who designed the new program. He wants to expose more students to career paths that align with their personal beliefs and interests, so they don't spend their 20s drifting. (snip)

A Course of Self-Discovery
Starting at orientation this fall, Wake Forest's first-year students will begin identifying their passions, interests, and strengths, which they will use to develop a career action plan.

Throughout their undergraduate experience, Mr. Chan's office will help connect students with faculty members, mentors outside the university, and internships to introduce them to possible academic and career paths. Mr. Chan envisions developing classes with the university's counseling center that emphasize self-discovery, how to conduct a job search, and professional and life skills such as budgeting, financial planning, and working well with different people. (snip)

Parents as Partners
One key part of Mr. Chan's plan is parents. He writes a blog called Heart of the Matter (, which offers advice for them as well as for students. He wants to teach parents to be better mentors and advisers to their children, who are choosing their careers in a different era. (One strategy he recommends: Instead of asking what students plan to do with their major, ask them what they liked best about a classroom or job experience.) (snip)
I was really struck by the development of the broader person, and the development of broader life skills, such as budgeting and check-book balancing. Both are important and worth discussing. It never crossed my mind that there was an alternative to the drifting around through one's 20's that most people seem to do. What a refreshing idea! Though I certainly don't have anything against exploring one's options!

Keep in mind that this career services is designed for undergraduates. But I really like the blog and I like the philosophy. I hope the links are helpful to OOTJ readers.

1 comment:

Marie S. Newman said...

I like the focus on life skills such as budgeting and handling money. I could have used this kind of help when I was that age. I had to figure out a lot of things on my own, which was certainly a learning experience.