The Colgate Scene
May 2005

A message from President Rebecca S. Chopp
Liberal arts and careers

Alumni and seniors chat informally after a panel discussion that was part of Real World, the annual program that offers seniors information about job searching, networking, strategizing, and post-graduation expectations. [Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]

Rob Jones '72, vice chairman for investment banking at Morgan Stanley, came to campus to conduct an employer information session. Nearly 130 students from all class years came to learn about Morgan Stanley in particular and careers in finance in general. [Photo by Aubrey Graham '05]

I dream of a recruiting brochure with a cover that asks:

Don't know if you want to be an art teacher or a Wall Street tycoon?

Can't decide between being a media mogul or an opera director?

Confused by your desire to major in economics and in biology?

And the tag line would read:

Come to Colgate -- where you can prepare for all of the above.

Inside, our story would be told in the successes of our alumni: the English major working as a research biologist; the philosophy major arranging mergers on Wall Street; the studio art major trying national cases for a Boston law firm. The quality of a Colgate education is proven every day in the careers of our graduates working in higher education, finance, law, manufacturing, business, health science, the media, and hundreds of other fields.

Our alumni know that a liberal arts education is the best preparation for almost any endeavor. In the 21st century, as information flows instantaneously and knowledge in many disciplines grows exponentially, the abilities to think critically and creatively in a global context, to communicate effectively, and to build community -- all goals of a Colgate education -- are more important than ever. In a world that is more complex and competitive than ever before, we take seriously our obligation to prepare students for graduate school and careers of all forms and shapes.

Director of Career Services Barbara Moore heads an effort that makes career services available to all our students. Because we feel an obligation to help students develop their knowledge and skills as we increase their access to career information, our center now reaches out to students across all four of their college years.

The Center for Career Services is at the fulcrum of a broad range of programs, across the university, that are designed to help students prepare for tomorrow while learning the art of critical and creative thinking through the curriculum. We have a four-year plan to help students acquire and hone their life skills as they begin to manage their career development.

First-year programs help students to discover themselves while preparing them to use Colgate. Sophomore-year programs encourage students to inquire, to gather information about possible careers and begin reflecting on personal and professional goals. In junior-year programs such as summer learning experiences, job shadowing, and volunteer work, students engage in practical learning opportunities. Senior-year programs center on achievement, supporting students as they clarify their direction, execute a plan to get into graduate school, or secure employment and make the transition to the professional world.

Our career programming, which is voluntary, is increasingly popular among students. In 2001, 7 percent of first-year students, 22 percent of sophomores, 28 percent of juniors, and 49 percent of seniors participated in career services. By last year, 33 percent of first-year students, 50 percent of sophomores, 52 percent of juniors, and 83 percent of seniors took advantage of career programming.

In our surveys of employers we hear time and time again a desire for graduates who can analyze a situation, communicate effectively, and solve problems creatively. Employers tell us they want graduates who can work as part of a team and engage diversity in a global context. With our strategic plan we have set a course to develop those qualities in every one of our graduates -- to continue that Colgate DNA that is characterized among our alumni by a strong work ethic, good interpersonal skills, and the ability to work collaboratively and entrepreneurially. Our residential and extracurricular opportunities help students develop and refine those traits and skills.

Alumni play a key role in helping our students decide on their careers. Indeed, a special ingredient in a Colgate education -- compared to most other forms of education available in the United States -- is the involvement of alumni in helping students define their career paths. Programs such as Real World help students gain information about professions. Students can explore careers with the guidance of alumni mentors online or in real-life situations. Jim Manzi '73 (an English and classical studies major who went on to become president and CEO of a major software company) endows a fellowship that supports students in summer community service projects in Boston in areas such as child and adolescent psychiatry, model social services programs for at-risk homeless families and individuals, and a comprehensive refugee resettlement program. A Colgate Business Plan competition awards the winning students summer internships. A new program, Career Development for the New Economy ("The right fit," January 2005), provides students with lifelong tools for career growth and enhancement. And those are but a handful of the many career development programs led by our alumni and attended by our students.

Many of our students go on to graduate or professional school, either directly from Colgate or after a period of employment. Organized advising programs counsel students with an interest in graduate study of law or medicine. Students aspiring to graduate study in academic disciplines are advised by professors in the relevant departments. A proactive program helps our students prepare to compete for Watson, Rhodes, Schupf, and other prestigious postgraduate fellowships and awards.

Dean Adam Weinberg, who has helped integrate career services into the rest of Colgate, told me not long ago, "It takes a community to help someone get a job." In fact our whole community -- both on campus and off -- collaborates to help our students achieve their goals after graduation. We believe passionately that education in the liberal arts is the best preparation for success in life and life's work. We are all here to help students make the important transition from being at Colgate to representing Colgate in the world.

Top of page
Table of contents
<< Previous: In the ruins... Next: Biotechnology matters >>