Bucknell career center offers half-credit elective course

Bridgette Simpson, News Editor

The Center for Career Advancement offered a half-credit course this fall semester, UNIV 175, for the first time after months of planning and structuring.

Pam Keiser, Sarah Bell, Marilyn Schull, Christa Matlack and Patti Meyers all work in conjunction at the career center together, as well as form the faculty for the five course sections offered. 

For several months, they worked on translating the traditional one-on-one setting of the career center into a more cohesive classroom model in addition to Sarah Bell developing the syllabus for the course. The seven-week course meets twice a week with approximately 20 students in each section, with select sections delegated for the first and second half of each semester. 

The course urges students to develop a number of imperative professional skills, including forming and enhancing a resume, a LinkedIn profile, interview and networking skills and how to research and understand different professional industries.

The course aims to pose questions that force students to consider how they approach the image of what they hope their career to look like, as well as contemplate how they can integrate the strengths they already possess. The course concludes with the students’ efforts culminating in a final e-portfolio, which they create using Digication’s e-portfolio software. The final product displays a polished resume, cover letter, written reflections, and a strong understanding of the industries they find interesting and interview skills. 

“We want the students in the course to come out of it feeling completely prepared to enter directly into a job or internship search,” Keiser said. 

One of the more integral facets of the class, apart from the final portfolio, is that the students are required to reach out to a Bucknell alum, an employer that piques their interest or some other outside source of information in order to enhance their networking skills. Students are often apprehensive about reaching out to strangers, especially in the professional setting, and the course aims to remedy some of the anxiety that may be present when students are tasked with networking for the first time.

Sarah Bell spoke of how the pandemic had a direct influence on how engaged students were, as well as how comfortable they were with interacting with unfamiliar people and places, which can manifest in negative ways now that the professional and academic spheres have returned to the traditional in-person manner of working. 

“The course also aims to bridge the gap between students and the career center,” Bell said. “We wanted to engage with students in ways other than always having them come to us. The course acts as an effective way to work with up to 100 students in a systematic fashion rather than having 100 students come into the career center over several appointments.” 

The skills introduced in the course build upon each other, making the course an effective way in which students can prepare themselves for job and internship opportunities, no matter how far into the process they may be. 

“Students work with their interactive resume and cover letter module in order to work through each piece they learn in class, allowing them to improve documents if they already have them,” Keiser said. “They also receive feedback from mock interviews we conduct in class.”

Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dean Breyfogle, echoed the positive feedback received from students upon the course’s launch this semester. 

“The feedback I have received from all of the students, who have met with me this fall and took this course, has been positive,” Breyfogle said in an email. “Students have shared with me their realization that their choices of majors have opened up and understood that they don’t have to major in a particular field for their potential goals.” 

“Other students have shared their appreciation for connecting with alumni who have given valuable advice and I did also have one student share that he has already secured a paid internship that he credits to taking the course. I look forward to learning about the results of the pilot after the first-year students take this course in the spring 2023 semester.”

The UNIV 175 course is open to all students, regardless of class year, and provides imperative professional development skills useful for any first-year, sophomore, junior or senior. The course is open for registration all semester, and is accepting registration for the spring semester. 

“I appreciate that the course helps students investigate their values and evaluate their goals, develop academic knowledge and skills related to career development, recognize that their major does not need to equate with a job title, and have products as a result of the course that will help in searching for and securing internships,” Breyfogle said.

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