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Career advising: Process over placement says Beloit’s career development director

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The process approach helps students become more proactive in their job searches

MEDIA CONTACT: Hilary Dickinson at dickinsonh@beloit.edu or 608-363-2849

The Liberal Arts in Practice Center at Beloit College views its role as the three
Cs: catalysts, consultants and a clearinghouse of opportunities.

Formed in 2011, the redesigned office now called the Liberal Arts in Practice Center (LAPC) is comprised of a half dozen offices including Career Development.

While that office continues to offer the same resources for students such as writing resumes and preparing for interviews, it now urges students to take more ownership in their job and internship searches−something Jessica Fox-Wilson, the director of career development, calls the “process” approach to career advising.

In the past, most colleges and universities used the“placement” approach, which, for example, Fox-Wilson said might involve placing a student in an internship an alumnus has available. In the process approach, however, the LAPC would ask the alumnus to write a job description and then let students apply for it, coaching them along the way.

“(In the latter situation,) the alumnus is happier with the intern, and the student learned from competing in a competitive process,” Fox-Wilson said.

Though some other colleges and universities such as Wake Forest University also employ the process approach to career advising, Fox-Wilson said Beloit’s focus differs from that of the other institutions for a number of reasons. 

Most significantly, Beloit has a curriculum that requires beyond the classroom learning for all students, which includes career preparation experiences such as an internship. In addition, Beloit boasts a re-launched mentoring program, it embeds career development within existing courses, and it is beginning to build a community of practice around career development with faculty.

With data suggesting graduates will go onto have 10-12 jobs and three careers throughout their lives, Fox-Wilson said the process approach is crucial.

“We teach them how to get a job, so in two, three, four years they will know what to do because the process doesn’t change,” she said. “This helps students take more control over their lives.”

SOURCE: Jessica Fox-Wilson is the director of career development in Beloit College’s Liberal Arts in Practice Center. In that role, she works to advance all areas of career planning and preparation; oversees academic and career exploration, including internship, summer job and full-time job searches; and builds and sustains programming that provides students and alumni opportunities to practice the liberal arts. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing from Beloit College and a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from Hamline University.  Fox-Wilson can serve as a media resource on topics related to career development and applying the liberal arts.