The College's Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) has implemented a new program that helps seniors identify, pursue, and secure a job after graduation. It's the gravy--or extra value--added to the meat and potatoes of the liberal arts. And, typical of "K," the new recipe comes with the personal touch of a one-on-one relationship.

The new program, called Senior Career Research Services (SCRS), connects each student with a career researcher. CCPD recently hired two--Lori Earls and Karen Williams--and both are dedicated entirely to SCRS. Earls and Williams work individually with their senior clients to navigate the storms, doldrums, and occasional smooth sailing of the job search process.

It may sound easy, but according to Lori Young, associate director of CCPD and the chief architect of the SCRS program, job searching is drastically different from the academic world to which seniors have grown accustomed. For that reason, "the search process can seem overwhelming, confusing, and disheartening," Young says. "Students can become discouraged with the intermittent and lengthy timelines that job searches take. The uncertainty regarding one's chances of securing a 'dream position' often immobilizes many students from even pursuing those options."

SCRS is a three-phase opportunity open to all seniors that helps each individual clarify employment goals and develop a job search action plan. Execution of the plan is measured and rewarded with progression into the program's later phases.

It all begins with a dinner (two are held each week), at which up to 10 seniors meet Earls or Williams. Each senior pre-registers for his or her dinner and receives in advance a series of questions that is helpful preparation for the short written exercises he or she completes at the dinner. The students also learn the fundamentals of developing a job search action plan. By dinner's end, each senior has provided the Career Researcher valuable information, including a wish list of search targets.

The Career Researcher uses that information to find, within 72 hours, three specific job opportunities for each senior. "In addition, I share with each client how I found those three opportunities," says Earls. "It's important for them to learn the process."

The ball is now in the hands of the senior client. After receiving the three targets (and within two weeks of the dinner) seniors customize or create a résumé and cover letter for each. These and a job search action plan are reviewed by the Career Research, after which the senior sends them to the employers.

Actively tracking the status of these three applications for a period of two weeks and updating the Career Researcher qualifies the senior for SCRS Phase II, during which the Career Researcher refers the client for positions posted with the College. Continued
"Employers tell us that 'K' grads are outstanding employees, that the work they do is of higher quality and creativity than most"
weekly follow-up by the senior on all referrals is the portal to Phase III.

In this phase seniors complete a "LinkedIn" profile, including a professional biographical introduction. "'LinkedIn' is the professional's 'Facebook,'" explains Earl. She uses her client's "LinkedIn" profile to secure a career advocate, expanding the senior's job search team to three.

Career advocates are alumni, parents, Guild members, and friends of the College who provide those seniors who continue into this phase with valuable advice and networking possibilities.

"The program will help more of our graduates immediately secure jobs that they desire," says Young. "More importantly, it will demystify the job search process and give seniors experience with that process.

Says senior Lucy Ohle, a participant in the program: "I found the career dinner to be helpful, both because it provided me with actual, feasible job results, and because it demonstrated that I can, in fact, organize my thoughts and wants and goals in order to sit down and successfully search and apply for jobs."

"Employers tell us that 'K' grads are outstanding employees, that the work they do is of higher quality and creativity than most," Young adds. "Their superiority on the job has been somewhat mitigated by some weaknesses with the job search process. SCRS helps address those."

Meat and Potatoes, meet Gravy!

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