By Ama Debrah
In the past year, the Barnard Career Development office has garnered much attention due to its high ranking (number 5!) from the Princeton College Review. Although we all know that the career development office offers a multitude of services, what’s the secret behind the fifth highest ranked career development office in the country? “We put a strong emphasis on that one-on-one relationship,” says Robert Earl, Director of Career Development. “Our goal here is only to empower the students. Whatever she wants to do, that’s how we’re going to support her.”
Earl describes the office as a “comprehensive one stop shop” for building careers through the personal counseling and workshops. As part of this one-on-one counseling, the career development office provides assessment testing, personality testing, and interest inventories in order to create a baseline for students to form their career goals on. The office also provides workshops on resume building, interviews, and networking. “The liberal arts education can do just about anything and everything, but we know that that needs to be supported,” says Earl. Earl explains that the career development office uses all elements, including coursework, extra-curricular activities, and personality inventories to make a composite to determine what career is best for you.
The office also puts a large emphasis on forming connections between Barnard alumnae and students through the Matching Alumnae to Partner with Students programs, or MAPS. Under MAPS, the office provides the Careers and Coffee panels, Take a Barnard Student to Work program, and Alumnae-to-Student mentoring. The office decides which categories to offer workshops through a list of core areas, including business, law, science, media, and finance, generated by surveys of interest from students. “We try to be very comprehensive, and our program is geared to provide information and support across industries,” says Earl.
The office gets in touch with alumnae for the different panels and workshops through the Barnard Alumnae Network. Through this network, the career development is able to use query searches to find alumnae by name, occupation, industry, and even location internationally. Students also have access to this database to network and find entryways into their preferred fields. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve not come across an alumna that doesn’t want to do something for a student in some form or fashion,” says Earl. This database is just another way that the career development office seeks to create a community between the students alumnae.
Regardless of where Princeton Review ranks the career office, the office determines its success not on its national recognitions, but on the individual successes of the students. “It’s fun to work and see people reach their goals and be all that they can be. That’s our philosophy,” says Earl. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we take our work seriously.”
Ama is a sophomore at Barnard and Food Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.
Image courtesy of Barnard Career Development