The Career & Civic Engagement Center at Bryn Mawr

From Katie Krimmel, Associate Dean of the Career & Civic Engagement Center

 

I always share my cell phone number with students. If they are ever on the fence about applying for a job or an internship, I want them to call me so that I can remind them of all of the ways their Bryn Mawr education has prepared them for this next challenge. I love encouraging students and learning what matters most to them. I am fortunate to do that work every day.  As the Associate Dean of the Career & Civic Engagement Center at Bryn Mawr I want to tell you more about our unique Center.

We use an individualized and reflective framework. The 15-million-dollar endowed Career & Civic Engagement Center (the Center) cultivates, supports, and challenges students as they explore their interests, develop professional skills, and pursue meaningful opportunities. Our team of 17 professional staff members, 1 faculty liaison, and more than 30 student staff members provides a personalized experience for students. They can connect with us through hundreds of appointments, drop-ins, events, courses, and volunteer opportunities.

The Center’s resources, academic courses, and extra-curricular activities give students many opportunities to develop and reflect on skills that we’ve defined in our Career & Civic Engagement Center & Digital Competencies, including communication, reflective practice, conceptual thinking, implementation, social responsibility, data analysis and presentation, and more.

In a recent article in the New York Times, In the Salary Race, Engineers Sprint, but English Majors Endure, David Deming, Director of the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, shared that “according to a 2018 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the three attributes of college graduates that employers considered most important were written communication, problem-solving and the ability to work in a team.” No matter what the next step is after graduation, these transferable skills will continue to be important as the world and jobs continue to change. Preparing our students holistically, a hallmark of a liberal arts education, allows them to succeed no matter what the future holds.

We know our students.  At Bryn Mawr, every student’s experience and journey matters to us and we work hard to ensure students are engaged and interested in learning more.  Last year, 87% of the first-year class, 84% of the sophomore class, 83% of the junior class, and 90% of the senior class engaged with the Center.  All first-year students take Gallup’s StrengthsFinder before arriving on campus, and 89% of the sophomore class submitted their resumes for review as part of the Sophomore Plan. We believe early engagement in this work early leads to student success.

Navigating the job search is a lifelong process and does not stop at graduation. Our Senior Associate Director for Alumnae/i Career Services recently wrote a piece in the Alumnae Bulletin, providing advice on navigating the job search process. Simply stated, she recommends, “when looking for a starting place, try this simple framework: Look inward, look outward, and look for intersections.”  We aspire for all our students to engage in this process.  That said, we pay close attention to the data from our destination survey at the end of the year. And make it an absolute priority to get the highest response rate possible. Last year (2018), our response rate was 98%, or 326 of our 334 graduates. The industry standard for reporting is 65%, meaning career outcomes are often reported and generalized based on just a portion of the graduating class.

At Bryn Mawr, our students are more than numbers. We know each student by name and we know their stories. We congratulate the students who have decided on their next steps, but even more importantly, we continue to support students who are taking time to make their decisions. Over the last four years, for which we got responses from nearly the entire graduating class, on average, 26% attend graduate school, 56% are employed, 4% are volunteering or doing fellowships, 8% are seeking and 6% are unknown one year after graduation. Seventy-nine percent of the 2019 graduating class had at least one internship during their college years.

We support our students. In addition to preparing students for these opportunities, we also provide other forms of support to our students. We provide generous stipends of up to $4,000 for unpaid summer internships across the globe. We subsidize travel and other costs by providing grants for students to attend conferences. We even have a closet full of alumnae/i donated professional clothes where students can borrow gently worn suits, blazers, blouses, and skirts for interviews.

This is just a sample of the work we do at the Center. Through our many initiatives, we facilitate exploration and reflection so students can identify what is personally meaningful to them. We know this approach helps students find success at Bryn Mawr and beyond. To learn more, watch this video.

 

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