By Steve Yang
The Center for Careers, Life, and Service has undergone more than just a name and address change from the Career Development Office; the big move involved a consolidation of services, brand new hires and positions, establishing a greater emphasis on a more integrated and holistic approach for advising Grinnellians in post-graduate life and a keen focus on developing essential life skills.
“We’ve combined with the Office for Social Commitment and the Community Service Office into the Center for Careers, Life, and Service,” said Mark Peltz, Associate Dean and Director of Career Development. “We want to focus our efforts on more than just internships and jobs; we want to teach students about budgeting and finance, and we want to make it easier for students to explore community service and service leadership opportunities.”
A large part of this focus has been the addition of five new positions to the CLS, each specifically tailored to fit certain emphases. “Susan Sanning is now in charge of civic engagement and service learning, Diane [Hawkins] has shifted to on-campus recruiting, Kelly [Guilbeau] is another internship counselor, Vicki [Nolton] is working on the support staff, and we have crazy numbers of student interns,” said Megan Crawford, Internship Coordinator and Assistant Director of Career Development. “Students come in, and we connect them to the right person”.
The point of this emphasis hinges on a more self-governed and holistic approach, wherein students can focus on more than what job or school they want to apply for after Grinnell.
“Your life is your career, not the reverse,” Peltz said. “We want you to engage in serious self reflection, and the CLS is a safe place to explore and ask questions about what you want and to dream big.”
The most important motivator for this change was greater accessibility, as the CLS sought to make opportunities more accessible for students interested in a wide variety of employment offerings.
“Our goal is to become a one-stop shop for students, and we’ve added new positions and people to account for this,” Crawford said. “We have expanded our quick-stop times, which are perfect for people who don’t know where to start and we have six counselors who are all specialized in particular areas of interest for students.”
The CLS hopes to offer many new services in the next three to five years, which they hope the class of 2017 and prospective students will take full advantage of in the future. These services have not been clearly identified as of yet, but they are centered on helping first-year students.
“Come as you are,” Peltz said. “You don’t need a suit.”
In fact, the CLS prefers working with first-timers at their office, as those students have the most to gain from starting early and returning often. The CLS believes that it is important to begin the search as early as possible, and to have the end goal in mind when beginning.
“Be a frequent flyer, and do not be a stranger to our office,” said Crawford. “Our office is very similar to self-government; students have to take the initiative for their future.”
The CLS is intensely committed to teaching lifelong skills for students that go beyond simple resumé building and career selection, as the office seeks to hone long-term success and ability.
“To use an old analogy, it’s better to teach someone how to fish rather than just give them a fish,” Crawford said. “It’s about living with purpose, more than just writing a nice cover letter or polishing your resumé.”
Moreover, the divide between life and employment is an important one to differentiate early on, as the CLS strives to develop every student’s potential. “If your work equals your life, well, that equals pretty sad,” said Doug Cutchins, Director of Social Commitment. “We’re here, available, ready, and excited.”