Office of Personal Career Development awarded grant

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The Office of Personal Career Development was awarded a grant this past summer from the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education. The grant allows the office to start its proposed program: UD Odyssey, a four year program that will hold events and activities to help undergraduate students explore their vocation. 

The grant affords an opportunity for the Office of Personal Career Development to further its offerings for undergraduate students.

“Our office of personal and career development received a significant grant to help expand the opportunities for not just later stage students but even to get some career exposure for younger students in different vocations,” Clare Venegas, vice president of marketing, said. 

Shannon Blatt, the director of OPCD, said, “We really do have a feel for what UD students bring to the table and how we can help them, but we want to expand that. We don’t want it just to be about coming to us here senior year and applying for jobs or applying for grad school. We want to try to really expand that and that’s what the grant is helping us do.”

NetVUE is a network of colleges which is overseen by the Council of Independent Colleges and it was formed for the purpose of assisting undergraduate students in finding their vocations. NetVUE receives funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. 

Blatt said, “[The] focus [of NetVUE] has been on helping undergraduate students to find their vocation, not just finding a career or finding a job. There [are] obviously different definitions of vocation. The one we use is where your deep happiness and the world’s deep needs meet. We’re using ‘vocation’ in the sense of finding your calling.”

The OPCD is dedicated to assisting students in their search for their careers and vocations. 

Blatt said, “What we’re really focused on here is helping students to really find their place and to prepare for life after UD. There’s a lot of things that that can include, but our main focus is what you’d expect. We help students apply for internships, full-time jobs, we help them with resumes, we help with interview practice — those practical skills that help you prepare for graduation.”

The OPCD applied for the grant in February and learned that they had received it the following June.The new program established was named UD Odyssey in order to better connect with students.

“We picked that name very purposefully,” said Blatt. “We wanted to correlate with the core because we knew that that would speak to students.”

Christina Nguyen, the associate director of career services, said, “I’m excited that OPCD is able to provide resources to help students to find their purpose and calling through exploration opportunities. Because of the grant, we’re able to host targeted initiatives through the UD Odyssey.”

The program includes workshops for vocational exploration, a few of which took place at the beginning of the semester — one for freshmen and sophomores and one for juniors and seniors.

Blatt said: “One of the main things we talk about, especially to freshmen and sophomores, is: you do not have to have it figured out right now. And juniors and seniors need to hear that too, because we know that there’s a lot of anxiety [and] a lot of pressure on students to feel like they have to make the exactly right choice. We want to make sure that students understand that it’s a lifelong pursuit to find your vocation. We try to use examples from alumni to talk about how our vocational journeys have led us to where we are, and it’s not a straight line – it’s a twisting, turning path.”

The program also includes mentoring, specifically from UD alumni, as well as job-shadowing and community engagement opportunities.

Blatt said: “We want to make sure that we’re being really purposeful about how we match students with the right mentors. So we’re doing a couple of pilot programs. The hope is that throughout this grant we’ll be able to work with alumni and work with students in such a way that we can have a structure set up where any student that wants a mentor alumni can have one.”

Alumni may prove to be especially important in helping students and recent graduates find jobs in the future. President Jonathan Sanford said, “Our alumni are very interested in helping current students, soon to be graduates, find jobs, and they want to build a robust network so that if you’re a UD alum, people know what that means, and people will come to your aid to get you placed.”

As always, the OPCD encourages students to visit.

Blatt said: “We really highly encourage students to come to visit with us even if they’re not ready to apply for jobs or internships. The best part of our day is to get to work with students. Once we get to know students, then we can really customize what we’re doing for them, be on alert if there’s a job opening or if we hear about an internship we think would be a good fit. We really do get to know the students well and we deeply care about them and their success.”

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