Freshmen jump-start job search

by Erin Lee | 9/24/14 6:39pm

A program launched this week aims to give freshmen a head start on the job search. Called the professional development accelerator program, it marks an effort by the Center for Professional Development to help students make use of its services earlier and more effectively, the center’s director Roger Woolsey said.

He said employers are increasingly interested in hiring students with hands-on experience, and the accelerator program provides freshmen access to opportunities like job shadowing as soon as they arrive on campus.

The program uses a website called DART that charts milestones in a student’s employment history, compares progress with the rest of their class and allows students to access resources through DartBoard and communicate with alumni.

The program, begun as a pilot last year, incorporated student feedback. More than 500 students from the Class of 2018 have enrolled in the program, which will last two years. If completed, participants will receive an official certificate and online badge on their LinkedIn profile, indicating to employers that they have successfully completed the program, Woolsey said.

It culminates during sophomore summer, when students can complete competitive projects like marketing campaigns, for which they can earn cash prizes.

Community outreach coordinator Eduardo Najera Ortega ’14 said he wishes he made better use of the center early in his time at the College.

“I thought that if I went to the center, they wouldn’t really be able to help me because I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Ortega said. “I really regret not coming here sooner and asking questions and just simply talking to people.”

Students registered for the program by completing a survey which identified their strengths, weaknesses, deterrents and other attributes. Depending on the students’ characteristics, they were each assigned one of four colors.

Initially, the program emphasizes exploration and self-assessment in the personal, academic and professional realms, allowing students to determine their interests and develop important skills such as time management and effective communication.

As students begin determining potential job interests, the program will offer experiential learning opportunities such as job shadowing and programs through Tuck Bridge and Off the Green, a series of immersion trips that allow students to explore different fields of employment.

Ortega said participants will continue to benefit after completing the program their sophomore year, and that the DART website should help match them with employers.

The professional development accelerator is one step in the center’s long-term plan to incorporate technology into its services, including expanding video conference capabilities, increasing integration with LinkedIn and designing better student-employer matching services.

Carolyn Strauch ’18 said the program seems to be a great support system for freshmen who do not know what they want to do.

“Getting an education so that you can get the job that you want is important, and if they can have a program that is specifically targeted for underclassmen, who are still trying to figure out what they’re trying to do, I think that is really helpful,” Reilly McInerney ’18 said.