PGS Career Services Promotes Success for Students
by Ellie Walburg (B.S. ’17)
Many adult college students are motivated by professional development. From a promotion to a job change to being better equipped to thrive in their current role, the practical curriculum learned in the classroom has real world implications. And that includes having the right map to step out on a career path designed for them.
Cornerstone University's Professional & Graduate Studies division is promoting new opportunities to empower and equip students for influence in their current or aspired careers.
The division's career services and student success committees are teaming up to meet a need they see with their students. While the student success committee has focused more on the academic preparation and resources needed to thrive in a degree program, career services is coming alongside students to provide that extra step of applying what they're doing now into their real career world.
As an extension of the goal of seeing students succeed from enrollment to beyond graduation, the career services team incorporates a unique perspective that's tailored to the needs of the student. To promote this outward perspective, committee membership represents perspectives of employers, alumni relations, university career center and the enrollment team.
"It's not enough just to get students to the end of their class schedule. We always want students to feel that 'PGS set me up for my career or that next step,'" Dr. Graham McKeague, associate dean of human services and career services committee member at PGS says. "What does it look like for a student to succeed from the first call to the enrollment team all the way to graduation and beyond graduation."
In implementing this value for practical skills in career services such as resume building, job interview preparation and others, the overarching goals for the career services team are to empower students to develop career readiness skills they need to add value to their career.
"We want to help students. If a student comes to PGS with a clear career goal in mind, we want to help students reach that goal," McKeague says.
These practical skills are planning to be incorporated in events, workshops and in integrating curriculum throughout a student's program.
In promoting a supportive community to support students, PGS recently hired Dr. Andrea Fryling to provide insight and direction. Having previously served as an adjunct faculty member, Fryling is now the assistant director of academic services and assistant professor of English at PGS.
"Our students often come to PGS looking to better themselves personally and professionally, and our goal is to empower them to do just that," Fryling says.
One initiative is integrating career services into the curriculum. Starting with the undergraduate programs, students will be able to experience and work through topics related to identifying their strengths and weaknesses and building their resume.
"I hope that it communicates that we want to see our students succeed," Melissa Canup, academic adviser and career services committee chair, says. "We want them to understand the value of their degree. We strive to enable students to meet their goals. We listen to and incorporate their feedback, developing and strengthening our curricula to better serve our students' unique needs."
By incorporating pieces of career development into curriculum, the committee hopes it will provide opportunities for students to think through important questions in a supportive environment.
"We want students to think through these career opportunities through their program, where they have time to have conversations with other people," McKeague says. "After graduating we want students to be able to say that they understand more about who they are, they're more confident in their interviewing skills, they're building a network, that they have tools and not feel like they're stuck."
The drive of career services is rooted in the supportive community that is foundational to programs at PGS. With student success equipping students by providing resources in academics, career services continues that supportive focus by empowering students to succeed beyond the classroom.
"I don't want students to finish here and go out and feel they have no support," Canup says. "We want to offer some sort of supportive network to them once they leave here with their degree."
Part of that support and foundation provided through career services comes from a dedication to discovering and living toward one's calling.
McKeague uses a quote from Frederick Buechner's "Wishful Thinking" to describe calling as "the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." Pursuing this concept of calling can be very encouraging in navigating life and career.
Calling involves a response of being called by God to make your impact in the world. "You don't just use your gifts and talents for yourself. In the idea of calling, it's a response of being called into something, but it's also on behalf of other people," McKeague says. "That's another key foundational piece for us, that our work is always connected to other people."
Recognizing the purpose in work allows students to make a change for both themselves and for those around them.
"When you have a clear understanding of what that is, it gives you a vision for the future," Canup says. "You don't get sidetracked by other opportunities but instead identify your core priorities. When you spend time to think through what your calling is, it helps you get that focus and have that goal in mind. That can be highly motivating and help point you in a specific direction."
With this focus of empowering students both for educational success and for fulfilling their calling and career goals, the program material students engage with is more than a means to an end. It's a process of being equipped for real-world influence and truly building a life that matters.