Kjelleren and Career Center staff restructure advising services

This year, under the new leadership of Director Don Kjelleren, the College’s Career Center launched a new program to restructure its services. The Center has initiated three major changes: the addition of industry-specific advisors, revitalized analytic services and new outreach to all first-year students.

In recent years, many elite institutions have focused on providing increased individualized assistance for students. The 2008 economic collapse sparked this trend, as colleges and universities sought to improve students’ career preparedness amidst high youth unemployment.

Services will now revolve around five career categories called verticals: Arts and Entertainment, Business, Careers with Social Impact, Education and Teaching and STEM. A specialized advisor oversees each vertical and provides industry-specific information regarding internships, alumni connections, specialized skills and interview training. The advisors will work throughout the coming months and years to enhance their respective verticals with more information and resources.

The Career Center will also be working on a new analytics system to provide students and graduates with more detailed information. It will conduct a survey six months after students graduate in order to create a better record of where students are working. The Center is also instituting a summer internship database to provide students with more information as they plan their summers.

For the first time, the Career Center invited all first-year students to schedule an introductory appointment with an advisor. The goal is to orient incoming students and ensure that they make use of the Center’s resources. According to Kjelleren, over 400 first-years have signed up for their career appointments thus far.

If a first-year is unsure about their interests, they complete the Career Discovery Program, through which advisors will help them investigate various careers associated with their fields of interest.

This reform could seem to indicate a shift in the College’s philosophy towards a pre-professional ideology, but Leigh Sylvia, director for communications at the Career Center, refutes that notion. The goal of the new system is to create “tangibility to liberal arts students,” Sylvia said.

Kjelleren and Sylvia stressed that the goal of the Career Center is to provide as many options as possible to students. They are dedicated to expanding their services far beyond the traditional business and medical school tracts that dominated the Center’s services in the past. The more students visit the Career Center, the better it can target its services to the specific interests of the student body. The Career Center wants to supplement the Williams education with career education.

The effectiveness of these changes, especially the first-year invitation program, is difficult to judge this early. Many first-year students complained of being overwhelmed with orientations during their First Days programming, unable to focus on an additional meeting with a career advisor. However, Kjelleren stresses that the initial meetings are only supposed to provide first-years with a broad overview of the services provided, with hopes that they will return in the future.

To upperclassmen who have yet to utilize the Career Center’s resources, the advisors welcome all to schedule their first meetings. It is “never too late and never too early to begin work with the Career Center,” Kjelleren said.

Students can schedule 30 minute meetings with an advisor through the new scheduling system on Route 2. In addition, walk-in appointments are available Monday through Friday, from 1:00 p.m.–3:45 p.m.

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