Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

Joining together to assist students with career readiness

The Office of Career and Professional Development (OCPD) is working closely with faculty members and other constituencies to unlock career opportunities for students. Here, OCPD’s Courtney Carter (left), Lauren Wooster (second left), and Kelly Dries (far right) celebrate newly named career faculty fellows (third left to right) Professors Munro Galloway, Renée Van Vechten, Mara Winick, Ben Aronson, and Julie Townsend. (Photo by Coco McKown '04, '10)

The mentor-protégé relationship is one of the pillars of a Redlands education. For more than a century, professors, coaches, and others at the University have inspired and supported Bulldogs on their journey. Graduates often tell how their lives changed due to a mentor’s guidance.

In the past year, the Office of Career and Professional Development (OCPD) has sought to harness that force in a “career ecosystem” in which students’ career preparedness is an even more pronounced institutional effort.

“I invite everybody to join in the effort to help students prepare a career plan before they leave the University, whatever that might look like for each individual,” says OCPD Executive Director Kelly Dries. “OCPD can’t do this work alone. Career Services is everyone’s business, because it’s the only way to ensure all 5,000 students at the University have support around their next steps.”

Since Dries’s arrival about a year ago, OCPD has tapped different constituencies to support the career readiness effort. Moving away from one-on-one student appointments, the office has introduced a studio model in which peer career educators support fellow students in open sessions during drop-in hours. The change has expanded the number of individuals the office can serve and made it more comfortable for students to reach out for help with career questions
large and small.

The Bulldog alumni network is also increasingly used as a resource. Last year, 750 alumni provided current students with career advice, job shadowing opportunities, résumé and cover letter reviews, and discussions about graduate school, internships, and more.

OCPD has also launched a program drawing on College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) faculty members with the CAS Career Faculty Fellows program. Five student-nominated fellows—Professors Ben Aronson (the Virginia Hunsaker Chair in Distinguished Teaching), Munro Galloway, Julie Townsend, Renée Van Vechten, and Mara Winick—meet monthly with OCPD staff, integrate career concepts into their curricula, and identify additional areas on campus where career and professional support could benefit students.

In 2018, Aronson offered a May Term class to help connect students to professional opportunities in the field of biotechnology. “Our curriculum supports careers in biotech, but many of our current students don’t realize that,” he says. “I bring in my former students ranging from recent graduates to those who graduated 10 to 20 years ago to talk about their careers, so students now can explore opportunities while they’re still on campus.”

Aronson is offering his career-focused May Term class again this year, but his recent work with OCPD to integrate career concepts into his classes has made him even more aware of the ways faculty members can help students prepare for careers. “As a professor, there are a lot of easy ways to integrate career readiness in classes,” he says. “It could be as straightforward as modifying an assignment or activity, or keeping students aware of career-related events and activities.”

Most recently, OCPD brought together a group of U of R faculty, staff, and administrators to create the University of Redlands Career Alliance, which will continue to collaborate on ways to support OCPD’s efforts. At a January event, 80 constituents came together in person and via a live video stream to hear Career Leadership Collective CEO Jeremy Podany talk about career trends in higher education. Podany encouraged the group to embed career development within their fields and to think through ways to help students: “In a survey by the Career Leadership Collective, 84 percent of today’s students think of their future career on a daily or weekly basis,” he said. “What they often don’t know is where
or how to take the next steps.”

Learn more about the Office of Career and Professional Development.