strengthening career opportunities

strengthening career opportunities

Career Development
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“JWU’s Career Development Office is evolving,” says Maureen Dumas, vice president of the renamed and reconfigured Experiential Education & Career Services. With the launch of FOCUS 2011 in October 2006, one of the goals was to transform career services to better meet the needs of JWU students and alumni. Dumas, the former dean of admissions, assumed her new role in June 2009, and explained how they are specifically tackling student needs within this area. “JWU delivers a unique experientially-based education that leads to career progression and satisfaction.” says Dumas. “This continues to be attractive to prospective students and their families.”

New measures for career success are being defined around preparation, compensation, progression and satisfaction. An annual survey will track alumni career progression. Staff has been realigned to career advising, experiential education and employer relations. Over the last few years, student focus groups voiced strong interest in moving away from career courses and toward personalized workshops to meet their individual career skill-building needs (see sidebar). “We’ve restructured career conference,” says Dumas, “from the traditional large event, to an array of college-or-major-specific events. Students get industry-specific networking opportunities relevant to their field of study. Employers really like this too.

“Experiential education is being incorporated through sophomore, junior and senior year internships, community service learning and study abroad opportunities,” Dumas says. “Our students must be prepared for the realities of the market and fully embrace and leverage their internships and directed work experiences.”

Dean of Experiential Education, Gregory Lorenz, Ph.D., has worked with academics and administrators to develop criteria for opportunities that provide real-world experiences. They are being used to design and develop new academic programs, reviews, operating procedures and policies for work-experience programs, and to evaluate new and existing opportunities with employers.

“We’re integrating with other university departments, employers and alumni, like never before,” says Dumas. Coordinators are connecting students with real-world experiences and working with Donna Yena, vice president of employer relations, who is strengthening relations with top employers of JWU students and graduates. Yena is modifying existing relationships with large employers that hire across programs and campuses, and increasing employment prospects that meet graduate and employer needs.

Dumas also points to alumni reconnecting and strengthening their commitment. Mark Norberg ’90, director of operations in South Florida for Seasons 52, a new restaurant chain, recently visited the Providence Campus. “Not only did he speak to students about his JWU experience, industry trends and his career path, he also sees a role for internships.” Mehmet Gürs ’93, a culinary icon in Turkey, who received rave reviews in The New York Times, Travel & Leisure and other Condé Nast publications, is another example. While in the U.S. attending a food show, Gürs made a special visit to Providence to discuss becoming an international internship site for JWU students. “He’s even helping with housing, and it’s because of the connection he feels to his alma mater,” says Dumas

“We’re all here to empower students to make effective career choices, identify and pursue internships, secure employment and navigate lifelong career direction,” Dumas explains. “We’re providing a ‘menu’ of options; it’s a matter of taking advantage and making the right choices for the career they want.”

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