Career Planning and Decision Making

A Great Aid to All Students

While many students come into college with a clear-cut vision of what they want to do for the rest of their lives, many more arrive for their first semester unsure and undeclared about their future selves. Others think they know what they want, but quickly find out their original plan is not all they had perceived it to be. For these students, guidance to their career path is a must. For these students, there is the Marist Career Planning and Decision Making course.

“A lot of students get an idea of what a career is like based on television,” noted Jane Fiore, the director of the Academic Learning Center at Marist. “Well, that’s TV. For some students, finding a job they like comes before finding a major.” Fiore is one of several professors that administer the Career Planning and Decision Making course and is a strong proponent for the one-credit course.

“Many students are not aware that their tuition pays for sixteen credits, and this is a great sixteenth credit to have in any semester,” she noted.

According to the Academic Learning Center’s web page, Career Planning and Decision Making is a one-credit course designed to help students “identify and discover career-related skills, interests, personality styles and possible career paths related to majors at Marist in order to help the student focus on career plans.” Elements of the course include writing a professional cover letter and resume, as well as connecting with Marist alumni in a student’s field of interest.

“It’s important to know what someone in the field is actually doing and how they feel about their job,” Fiore stated. “It’s really giving them a great deal of information.”

Research is also key to determining what careers would interest a student. Fiore stated that each student takes a survey at the beginning of the year, in which they list their interests, likes, and values, and then connect jobs (and, subsequently, majors) that are linked to the survey’s results.

“We really lead the student through a great deal of information that they can access,” Fiore said. “It’s just getting people aware of what’s out there to help make a decision about your career.”

For students who are unable to take the class, or for those who want additional guidance, both the Academic Learning Center and Career Services are available to all students. The Academic Learning Center supports events such as a majors fair each fall, an informational booklet on all majors and minors, FOCUS programs and courses (of which the Career Planning and Decision Making course is a part of) that assist in the transition from high school to college, and first-year and new student academic seminars. Career Services offers a unique opportunity called the Career Consultation Day. This is an event in which students can take their resumes or cover letters to a professional employer to look over and critique. Students can also talk about career plans or job search strategies, and while it is not a recruiting event, employers have been known to follow up with attendees who impress them for possible internship or job opportunities.

 “This is another opportunity to meet face to face with a professional who can give you advice and guidance,” Fiore stated, adding that these events are a great chance to network with people.

Career Planning and Decision Making is just one of several one and three credit courses offered by the Academic Learning Center. Other courses include the College Experience, which helps freshmen with their transition to a college lifestyle in addition to providing information about majors and minors; Self Development, which helps students manage academic and personal achievements; and Critical Reading and Thinking, which helps develop critical and inferential skills that are needed for college work.

While taking Career Planning and Decision Making is not a requirement for most students, the courses frequently run to capacity - indicating a great interest by many students at Marist. In Spring 2016 alone, the class was attended by 187 students over twelve sections, taught by six different instructors. Most of the sections were at or over capacity. In addition, despite being billed primarily for undeclared freshmen, the course is structured so that even seniors would be able to benefit from enrolling.

“I would talk about the course and say, ‘If you don’t take this as part of the FOCUS program, take it some time,’” Fiore said about talking to Freshmen at orientation. “To come out after the first year of college with a professional resume and cover letter, you are a step ahead of everyone.”

Written by Gregory Rycharski ‘16

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