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Center for Career Development Adopts New Approaches for Preparing Students for Life After Davidson

by Morgan Orangi '13
Ashley Neff and student in Center for Career Development
Ashley Neff, assistant director of internships, shows Nolan Canter '14 how to use CareerBeam, their newest online assessment.

With a new name, new location and changes to online resources, the Center for Career Development (formerly the Career Services Office) has recently undergone multiple changes in preparing students for life after Davidson.

Nathan Elton, director of the center, said they are adopting a more holistic approach. "'Career development' encompasses all the services, resources, and tools we provide for students at all points in their careers, not just during the job search," Elton explained. "Our office focuses on the complete picture and full scale of opportunities that we have to engage students and help them along their path. The developmental model allows students to explore and learn about themselves. In a lot of ways, we're trying to educate students so they can manage their own career aspirations and progress throughout their lives."

The center relocated this summer to a more visible location on the atrium level of the Alvarez College Union. After hiring two new positions in the past three years, the center had outgrown its space on the union's top floor.

Staff and student in the Center for Career Development
Jamie Johnson, associate director of the center, speaks with a student about a follow-up appointment after walk-in hours.

As part of its holistic approach, career development has restructured programs, such as their Davidson 101 session for first years, to have a stronger impact on more students. "Our goal is to increase the number of students who are engaging with us early, especially in terms of gaining experience and a better sense of self," said Elton. "Davidson 101 now includes more practical and active components, such as creating a resume and taking career assessments."

The center is also partnering with the Chidsey Center for Leadership Development this year to launch a mentor program that enables students to connect with people in their areas of career interest and learn how they can translate their liberal arts degree into an impactful life. The program will begin with two monthly conversations between 50 alumni or community volunteers and 50 students, and students will change mentors annually.

Career Development has revised its online resources as well. They have replaced two former programs with one called "CareerBeam," which consists of more than 20 assessments that help students understand how their interests, personality type, values, and interests relate to potential career paths. It also includes an interview prep tool to help students in their job search.

In addition to online assessments, the center has substantially expanded their online presence through social media in the past year.

"We can use social media to show the breadth of what we do-how we are developing students rather than just offering services," said Ashley Neff, director of internships. "It provides us with the best venues to promote our resources and share information about our students and alumni with parents, employers, and other students."

Career development maintains accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, and a blog. Neff said that they plan to focus primarily on the blog this year, but that content will be shared across multiple platforms.

The center recently hired May Henderson '14 as its first social media intern to create and find content, such as video interviews of students and alumni, photos from events, and career-related articles. "Career development has a strong social media presence, but we need to advertise that better in order to increase followers and show students how useful it can be," said Henderson.

Neff said that at this point LinkedIn is the center's most productive social media tool for networking, having grown to more than 10,000 Davidson-associated members. The center has begun providing instruction on using LinkedIn, because 75-85 percent of jobs and internships are landed through networking. Students can use it to connect with alumni, view alumni career paths, join groups related to their interests, apply for positions, and research companies and organizations.

"It comes down to gaining experience, so we're trying to expand internship opportunities and help students make the most of their summers," said Elton. "The developmental model and holistic approach will encourage students to understand themselves and search for these opportunities throughout their time at Davidson."