The Colgate Scene
The right fit
Students explore dreams before jobs
|By Tim O'Keeffe|
Bruce Crowley '79, a management consultant, spearheaded Career Development for the New Economy, an on-campus course that helps students discover what makes them tick and what kinds of jobs might best suit them. He enlisted the help of five other alumni, who each came to campus to teach a segment of the course. [Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]
Landing a dream job after graduation is a goal of college students everywhere.
At Colgate, a program spearheaded by an alumnus is helping students define what their dream job is by first getting them to define who they are, what makes them happy, and what they need to operate at their very best.
The program -- Career Development for the New Economy -- is led by Bruce Crowley '79 with support from the Center for Career Services. In its second year, the program ran for eight weeks starting in late September. Organizers hope this year's program results in stories similar to Lisa Rogoff's.
Rogoff, who graduated last spring, said that before she took the course last year, she wasn't sure what she wanted to do after graduation. But through one-on-one meetings that Crowley held with her and other participants, the program's curriculum, and a personality profile it includes, she was able to determine what makes her tick and what kind of job would best suit her.
"Together, we figured out that I would be able to put my skills to best use when working for a cause for which I felt passionate. We learned that I had to work for an organization that really made a difference," said Rogoff.
The organization turned out to be the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Rogoff worked at the museum as an intern, but she found out in September that a job had been created for her. She is now working on college outreach programs for the museum's Committee on Conscience, which focuses on ways to stop genocide.
"The program is the reason I am where I am now and I couldn't be happier," said Rogoff.
Getting to know me
Approximately 60 students participated in the program, divided evenly between the sophomore, junior, and senior classes. They attended nine two-hour classes. There were required readings and assignments, and the students had to complete the Birkman Method personality profile. (A separate program for first-year students addresses their needs differently, focusing on career exploration rather than job searches.) All students earned one physical education credit for successfully completing the respective programs.
Crowley, who has worked in career development for more than 10 years, said that the personality profile is a small but important part of the program because it helps determine a student's interests, needs, preferred working style, and how they might operate under stress.
"What's important is for students to begin to enhance mastery of self, first. `Who am I? What do I like? When am I happiest?' As they work toward mastery of self, they become better prepared to forge their own identity," said Crowley.
Rogoff said that the Birkman profile allowed her "to see my strong points and my weak points, and where to focus my attention."
Barbara Moore, director of career services, said that Colgate is unique among colleges in using the Birkman Method, although the personality profile is widely used in the business world.
"It's a great tool, and I think the students will refer to and reflect on it for the rest of their lives. It's something that gets them to really think about who they are," said Moore.
Preparation outside the classroom
"One of the residential education components is getting our students prepared outside of the classroom setting. I think the program gives them a good sense of who they are and solid experience in engaging different types of people -- alumni, faculty, and eventually, prospective employers -- in all kinds of settings."
Moore wants students to undergo the kinds of self-examination the program offers as early as possible. She said it helps them to focus and prepares them to take advantage of all that Colgate has to offer. She works closely with Raj Bellani, dean of the sophomore-year experience, in combating what is sometimes called in higher education circles the "lost year." Some sophomores struggle because while they may know their way around campus, they are still unsure of themselves socially and academically.
Bellani organizes events specifically for sophomores, and works with the career center on job workshops and networking programs for sophomores who get to meet alumni in informal settings.
"The work Raj is doing through the sophomore-year experience is really engaging the students, and it's making a difference," said Moore.
Sophomores and juniors, especially, benefit from learning job skills and how to market themselves so that when senior year comes around, they are ready to execute a search, whether it's for a fellowship, graduate school, or job.
"The students build on their knowledge week after week; they actually become their own support group. They motivate each other, give each other tips. That process is really important," said Moore, who added, "It's great to have alumni come in and share their stories and their expertise. The students really respond to it."
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