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College gives sophomores career prep over winter break

‘Career term’ gives students practical training on how to search for jobs

Hendrix College, a small liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, offers its students career preparation and advice over the winter break, teaching them basic job searching skills such as resume writing, appropriate interview attire and how to seek out internships.

The program, called “Career Term,” takes advantage of the college winter break “to coach students in job training,” according to a report in Inside Higher Ed, with the goal of offering the course to the entire sophomore class in a couple of years.

“…I just think that aspect of self-presentation, broadly defined, how you comport yourself in professional situations, on paper and electronically, people still have a lot to learn about it,” Bill Tsutsui, the college’s president, told Higher Ed.

Rathe than offer “programs far outside the liberal arts, around the sciences or technology” in order to boost undergraduates’ chances of finding a job, the college opted instead to offer basic tops on presentability and professional development. “While only serving part of its sophomore class this year, the college intends to offer the program to the entire class by January 2020,” Higher Ed reports.

From the report:

The narrative that students steeped in the liberal arts can’t succeed is wrong, said Michelle Weise, senior vice president for workforce strategies at Strada Education Network.

Strada researches employment trends among college graduates. It has published studies suggesting students aren’t confident they’ll find a job after college, and that the students who take a position they’re overqualified for tend to remain “underemployed.”

Weise said liberal arts students simply need to show employers how their skills translate to the work force. A campaign such as Career Term can help identify early what they need — whether that’s help communicating or a couple of extra classes outside their majors, she said.

Integrating the lessons early in a student’s college career — the second year, which is neither too late nor too soon — also benefits them, Weise said. Doing so their sophomore year could jump-start students’ interest in their career centers, which have struggled to attract student attention over the last several years, Weise said. According to one Strada report, 40 percent of students never visited their career centers.

“I don’t think a one-off is enough, but the students will get a good enough taste of it,” Weise said of Career Term. “Sustaining that with the career services office is important. Most younger students have no understanding of the opportunities available through their career services.”

Hendrix also plans to bring in alumni during career term to give undergraduate students professional direction. “If you can make that connection during Career Term, that can be golden,” Tsutsui said.

Read the whole report here. 

MORE: Slight majority of college grads who visited campus career office say it was ‘helpful’

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