Happy birthday, Center for Career and Professional Development! Or, should we say: wedding day. In February, not long after the Guilds Initiative (now called the Guilds of Kalamazoo College) celebrated its first birthday, Provost Mickey McDonald announced its "marriage" with the Center for Career Development. The new Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) is directed by Joan Hawxhurst, who had been serving as the director of the Guilds since November 2007.

"The CCPD encourages students to explore experiences that will help them clarify their career aspirations, broaden they networks, and improve their professional skills," says Hawxhurst. "As a result, they will be well prepared to step confidently into life after "K," whether employment or graduate school."

The new center provides an array of services and programs, including individual career counseling; self-assessment career inventory; discovery externships; four kinds of internship opportunities; résumé, job application, and correspondence critiques; practice interviews with Kalamazoo area professionals; and the rapidly growing Guilds of Kalamazoo College (Business, Justice and Peace, Sustainability, and Health).

The national award-winning Discovery Externship Program - hands-on opportunities to explore a career interest in the workplace of a Kalamazoo College graduate - turned seven years old this year. Available to freshmen and sophomores, externships offer many of the benefits of their longer-running cousins, but last only one to four weeks.

Their Field Experience Internship (six weeks or longer) Program cousins come from three related families: "K" Internships, Community Building Internships, and Independent Internships.

The Field Experience Program allows students to register their internship with the CCPD and thus take advantage of the Center's staff support throughout the duration of the internship. Student grants are available to help defray internship costs.

New this year, "K" Internships match students with alumni for working experiences of greater duration than externships. Says Hawxhurst: "Students are able to develop a professional working relationship with their alumni sponsors, learn about the workplace applications of their liberal arts education, and contribute their skills and energy to their work placement."

Community Building Internships began in 2007 as a partnership between the Center for Career Development, the Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Institute of Service-Learning, and various Kalamazoo-area community organizations. Community Building Internships allow students to work in the city of Kalamazoo during the summer months, providing them an opportunity to build powerful partnerships with community organizations.

And if those families weren't enough, the CCPD provides personal and website assistance for students who research, identify, and apply for internships not associated with the College but particularly suited to their professional aspirations. Students are even eligible for CCPD funding as support for such independent internships.

The triumph of the marriage is the synergy expected from providing the Guilds of Kalamazoo College a permanent institutional home in the CCPD. A synergistic effect is a result exponentially more powerful than expected. In medicine, it might work as follows: medicine A kills 100 germs; medicine B kills 100 germs; and combined they kill 200 germs. That's an additive effect. In a synergistic effect medicine C kills 100 germs; medicine D kills
"Students develop a professional working relationship with their alumni sponsors..."
100 germs; and combined they kill 20,000 germs. Such an effect - albeit not in combination drug therapy but instead in areas such as professional networking and integrating academics with experiences in the so-called "real world" - "is what we expect from the combination of the Guilds and our career and professional development programs," says Hawxhurst.

The Guilds are communities of student, alumni, and non-alumni practitioners of work and scholarship in areas of health, sustainability, business, justice, and peace-making. The concept of "practice" in these areas can be pretty elastic - or "liberal arts-ish," according to Hawxhurst, and fittingly so, given the College's liberal arts DNA. Guild members gather physically (take, for example, the recent Business Guild conference on the relevance of liberal arts in international business, see photo) or virtually through the web and social networks, or both. Says Hawxhurst: "For students, Guilds connect elements of their 'K'-Plans into a more integrated educational experience. Guilds help them develop networks and professional relationships useful after graduation. And these intergenerational networks benefit alumni guild members as well. Alumni involvement in the Guilds offers a meaningful lifelong connection to the College."

The four charter Guilds were launched in early 2008. Other guilds are expected to coalesce around other interdisciplinary issues. As the charter Guilds mature, a Guilds Council of students, alumni, faculty, and staff will consider applications to establish additional Guilds.

Lenart Johansson, Consul General of Sweden, State of Michigan, speaks with "K" students during a Business Guild campus conference on international business.

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