When Edoarda Perez ’14, who is originally from Managua, Nicaragua, was looking for a job after graduation, she knew she needed to utilize all of her resources. So she connected with Matthew Stackowicz, director of career services at Bethel, to find out about open positions. Through Stackowicz, Perez learned about a potential opportunity at Pathfinders Advertising in Mishawaka, Ind., where Kelly Ball serves as vice president.
“Edoarda was looking for a job, and Kelly sits on the communication department’s industry panel at Bethel,” Stackowicz says. “I connected the two of them, and they were able to communicate from there.”
Industry panels are comprised of professionals working in the field who meet several times a year to review curriculum and help professors better prepare students for job readiness, specific to their industry. For Ball, serving on the communication department’s industry panel is another way to network and build relationships in the community.
Given his impression of Bethel, Ball was happy to review Perez’s credentials. Although he didn’t have an immediate spot for her at Pathfinders, he was so impressed after talking to Perez that he recommend her for a marketing manager position at The Family and Children’s Center in South Bend, where he serves as a board member for the Boy’s and Girl’s Club.
“I forwarded her information on to the communication director [at The Family and Children’s Center] and said, ‘you have to talk to her. She would be great. She would be hard to pass up,’” Ball says.
After a quick interview process, Perez got the job.
A visual arts major, Perez says she felt well prepared for life after Bethel — having completed a two-semester internship as well as an extensive portfolio — but she credits her new job to her network.
“It’s all a matter of connections,” she says. “You have to create ties in the community.”
Career and Calling Milestones
It’s these types of connections that Bethel hopes to perpetuate through industry panels for each academic department — part of the new career and calling milestones program that launched with the fall 2014 semester.
The communication department has already been meeting with an industry panel for several years, comprised of professionals, like Ball, in advertising, marketing, media and nonprofit organizations. Not only are these panels informative, they’ve also, in some cases, led to internships and jobs for students.
A Holistic Approach
At its core, the career and calling milestones program is designed to equip students to find meaningful employment in their chosen field before they graduate. Building on the variety of career preparation resources already available at Bethel, the program begins the first day new students arrive on campus and follows them through four years of preparation, culminating in a final portfolio presentation their senior year.
According to Director of Student Success Joel Boehner ’05, this revolutionary program was developed in response to the changing landscape of career services.
“With rising expectations from parents and students and an economy that has left recent graduates struggling to find work, the time seemed right to integrate career preparation into the college experience,” Boehner says.
Building Value, Step by Step
As part of the program, students must meet specific benchmarks each year, reflect on their learning experiences, build their online portfolio and showcase their progress toward career readiness. Requirements range from career assessments, mock interviews and completion of a résumé/cover letter, to job shadowing, internship/field placement and networking with local employers, among other activities. By their senior year, students will be well-prepared for a career in their chosen field.