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Bethel Launches Innovative Career and Calling Milestones Program

Bethel College Entrance

Bethel College announces the launch of the career and calling milestones program, designed to equip students to find meaningful employment in their chosen field before they graduate from college. The unique program will centralize and build upon the variety of career preparation resources currently available at Bethel, integrating them into the college culture and giving each student a consistent experience.

According to a report from Hanover Research, studies show a clear link between students’ use of their college’s career center and increased job placement rates. However, for a variety of reasons, many students fail to seek out and utilize the career center’s resources.

“Students typically think of career preparation as something they’ll worry about when they are seniors, but they need to start visiting in their freshman year in order to be fully prepared for graduation,” says Joel Boehner, director of student success. “We began to wonder if we could shift the way we interact with students, and if we could integrate career preparation throughout their whole college experience so they can get the full value of what we have to offer.”

In the months after Boehner and his staff began rethinking their approach to career development, it became clear that the entire landscape of career services is approaching a significant paradigm shift. Boehner cites factors such as new expectations from parents and students, an economy that has left recent college graduates from across the nation struggling to find work, and the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard — which will soon require colleges to report data about average earnings of their graduates — as catalysts for colleges to reconsider how the career services office supports employment outcomes. For Boehner, these national trends confirmed the importance of committing time and resources to re-engineering the career services model at Bethel.

After more than a year of research and development, Bethel’s career services staff unveiled career and calling milestones — a holistic four-year career and life preparation program that begins the first day students arrive on campus and ends with a final portfolio capstone class and presentation in their senior year. Each year students will meet specific benchmarks, reflect on their learning experiences, gather documents to build their portfolio and showcase their progression as career-minded individuals. Seniors will have a full online portfolio to show employers as evidence of their preparation.

Program requirements include career assessments, mock interviews, a completed LinkedIn profile, completion of a résumé and cover letter, job shadowing, internship or other field placement, networking with local professionals, service learning, intercultural development and a variety of other activities.

One immediate outcome of the program has been the development of panels of industry experts that will advise each academic department regarding their curriculum and effectiveness for post-college readiness. This capitalizes on Bethel’s Michiana location and proximity to more than 16,000 local employers, who will also serve as resources for student job shadowing, internships and networking.

“One goal with the program is to connect students with professionals in the area and introduce them to the many opportunities in Michiana,” says Matthew Stackowicz, career services director. “Students will be encouraged to stay in the state after they graduate.” The career and calling milestones program is one of many initiatives launched as a result of three Lilly Endowment grants awarded to Bethel in the past decade, meant to combat Indiana’s “brain drain.”

Full integration of the program will begin this fall with the incoming class of 2018, but upperclass students who wish to participate are welcome to contact the career services office for more information at CareerServices@BethelCollege.edu or 574.807.7096.