Westmont Magazine Making a Career Out of Change
by Dana Alexander
Director of Career and Life Planning
As I look toward the upcoming academic year, I see the proverbial good news and bad news. The bad news—as most of us know—is an employment climate characterized by profound and permanent shifts and changes.
We’ll probably never return to a time when work is dependable, employees move predictably upward in a company or an industry, and job descriptions remain relatively stable. The only predictable thing is change, and the responsibility for career development and success falls increasingly on the individual. That makes the process of self assessment and choosing a career confusing and sometimes intimidating.
My goal this year is to continue developing our programs and resources so that we offer students good news. And there is good news. Liberal arts institutions continue to be a wise choice for students. Research studies of liberal arts graduates since the 1960s have shown they were gainfully employed, enjoyed high levels of job satisfaction, succeeded in business environments, and found their education useful. “Fortune” magazine reports that 38 percent of today’s CEOs come from liberal arts backgrounds, as do nine of 13 top executives at IBM.
When you consider that 20 percent of the 30,000 job titles now in existence will disappear by the year 2000, an education that prepares students for a variety of options takes on new importance. Even our most professionally oriented degrees such as business or the sciences focus on teaching the foundation for those disciplines. More and more companies are turning to students with a general education rather than a technical one. They have found that these students advance more rapidly because they can communicate effectively and learn new skills.
But a quality liberal arts degree gets tested in the work place, so we continue to expand our internship program with more opportunities in more fields. Students even have the option of creating an internship where none exists.
There’s more good news. We’ve hired a new staff member so one person will handle all aspects of student employment. Whether they want to babysit or they’re seeking that first significant position after graduation, students can turn to our student employment coordinator.
Another first this year is a one-unit class I will teach titled, “Career and Life Planning” (IS80), which will provide a structured setting for covering all aspects of the career development process.
Certainly we face more challenges in the career development field than ever before. But Westmont is deeply committed to providing the individualized attention of qualified staff, effective programs, and current information to meet those challenges head on.