University of Vermont

The Honors College

Message from the Dean - June 2011

Abu Rizvi

Many of our recent graduates have found engaging and rewarding work to pursue as they leave UVM and the Honors College. You'll find a summary of student employment post-graduation in the commencement article in this newsletter. But, in these economic times, a number of students have not yet been successful in their search for the right job. Thoughts naturally turn in these circumstances to what we might do to prepare students appropriately for successful entry into the job market. It is tempting to think of resume preparation, cover letter writing and the like as the areas to emphasize if students are to be successful. However, we feel that a developmental perspective to career counseling is more fruitful. Such a perspective encourages the linking, throughout the undergraduate career, of a student's academic and extracurricular interests with potential professional and postgraduate opportunities. The student develops an interest in possible careers and this interest, in turn, drives the student to pursue particular academic and other pursuits. A developmental approach is particularly apt because students may not know what careers to pursue, or they may be ill informed about what particular careers involve. They may be uncertain about how their academic and personal interests relate to potential careers. And they may face a particularly abrupt transition to the world of careers if they have not given them much thought during most of their undergraduate years. A developmental approach is deeper than just guidance with resume writing and takes longer than what might be done if the student's senior year.

With these thoughts in mind, we in the Honors College are piloting a Professional Development Forum (PDF) this fall for about 20 students. Over three evening sessions throughout the fall 2011 semester, students will meet to consider the links between their emerging interests and possible careers. An on-campus weekend retreat will allow for in-depth exploration of careers and a final dinner with the seminar's alumni mentors will allow students to interact in a setting they might find in an interview situation. The PDF won't ignore the nuts-and-bolts of job search, either. In addition to the group meetings, students will receive personal sessions on skills such as resume writing and interview strategies. But they will also have individual mentoring sessions and come up with an academic and professional plan that will enable them to reach their broader goals. In all of these activities they will have recourse to the advice of UVM alumni in various fields of employment.

We hope to evaluate the success of the pilot Professional Development Forum. If it works well, the Honors College will seek to continue and expand this approach to careers as a developmental process, one that works hand-in-hand with academic exploration.

Enjoy this newsletter. As I always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Last modified June 06 2011 12:05 PM