Charting a Course for Success
There are intimidating moments in every student’s college career. Some undergraduates might experience an unnerving feeling as they move away from home for the first time, while others might feel overwhelmed as they prepare for final exams. And a few might be especially nervous about the blank page on their computer screen when a 10-page paper is soon due.
Franklin & Marshall student Kaitlin Kines ’13 recently confronted another potentially nerve-wracking moment: her law-school interview.
Kines prepared for her interview with guidance from the College’s Office of Student & Post-Graduate Development, an evolution of the former Career Services office that launched July 1. Working closely with several members of the office’s staff, the government and art double major developed a strategy to highlight her strengths and build self-assurance before the big day.
“I felt so confident walking into my interview last week because I was prepared,” Kines said of her meeting with one law school’s admission team in late September. “I would have been at such a disadvantage without their help. They’ve improved their services for students, and just at the perfect time for me.”
Kines is among a growing number of students who are preparing for life after college with help from the office, which serves to bolster the College’s commitment to holistic student development. And while her application process for law school continues, Kines takes comfort in knowing she is asking the right questions, developing an effective résumé and receiving valuable advice.
“Every time I leave the office, I feel better about myself. I feel like I’m on the right track.”
A New Model for Student and Alumni Support
The office is the latest step in F&M’s effort to enhance its services dedicated to preparing students and alumni for their lives and careers beyond college. Housed in the same building as the former Career Services office—619 College Ave.—the staff’s mission is to help students and alumni apply the skills they have acquired through
academic experiences toward their pursuit of postgraduate options, which may include graduate school, professional school, internships, fellowships or a career.
F&M alumna Beth Throne ’95, who joined the College in September 2011 after working as an attorney at Fox Rothschild LLP in Exton, Pa., leads the office as associate vice president for student and post-graduate development. She oversees a staff that includes advising for health, legal and education professions in addition to more general student and alumni development advising.
The office’s targeted resources for students and alumni are designed to help launch them on successful trajectories toward their postgraduate pursuits, F&M President Daniel R. Porterfield said.
“Beth and her staff will help students build individualized, high-impact experiences while at F&M to prepare for fulfilling lives as young adults after college,” Porterfield said. “And our work doesn’t stop when students graduate. Our holistic approach will support students as they make many critical career and life decisions in the years after graduation, and will engage alumni of all ages in the life of the College.”
According to Dean of the College Kent Trachte, F&M’s effort to move beyond career-related services began several years ago with a task force chaired by Trustee Doug McCormack ’85 and continued with another task force chaired by Trustee Eric Noll ’83, P’09.
"The establishment of this office represents the next stage of our commitment to enhance the ways the College supports and assists students with the transition to life after college," said Trachte, who has oversight over the office. “What emerged from the task forces was a recognition that we should move away from a model rooted in counseling in favor of a coaching approach, where students develop a game plan with action steps.
President Porterfield brought a real commitment to improving the way the College positions its students to compete successfully for life after college."
In developing the new office, the College aims to help students apply skills they’ve learned in classrooms and laboratories to prepare for lifetimes of achievement, Trachte said.
“It’s important that students follow their intellectual passions,” he explained. “They need to pursue what they find interesting and ask the questions they find interesting. Institutionally, we need to help students articulate those experiences to help them compete for internships, fellowships and jobs. What skills in a research experience can help them? The academic experiences they’ve had become assets.”
Comfortable and Confident
Throne has been busy spearheading the office’s development over the past year, a process, she said, that has been guided by the question, “What do our students and postgraduates want and need?”
“We want to help students with three aspects of their development as F&M students: preparing to launch, launching, and sustaining trajectories of success,” Throne said. “In so doing, we hope to equip them with the skills and networks they need to be competitive.”
Trachte said the College’s goal was to create a single place where students could obtain broad career advising and also specific advising in the fields where targeted support could help students compete against other graduates of selective institutions. Laurie Baulig, adjunct assistant professor of business, organizations and society and of women’s and gender studies, joined the office as director of legal professions advising. Glenn Cummings joined F&M as director of health professions advising after serving in a similar position for eight years at Princeton University. Both advisers started their work over the summer.
“In the past, these areas of advising were disparate. Students often felt like a Ping-Pong ball going to different offices on campus for advising,” Trachte said. “Our new office has a much higher level of coordination for individual advising.”
Natasia Fable ’13 has been developing her post-college plans with help from Lori Greenawalt, student development adviser in the new office. A psychology major at F&M, Fable is outlining a plan that includes graduate school after working for a year after college.
“I’ve basically lived in that office, especially this month,” Fable said in late September. “Lori is very encouraging, telling me how she went through the same process herself as a student. She and Beth have made me feel comfortable and confident. That’s what they all do. They’ve built my confidence. And my résumé has never looked better.”
Chemistry major Zach Wilt ’13 has received guidance from the office as he prepares to apply for medical school, working closely with Cummings after beginning the process with former pre-medicine adviser Ken Hess, professor of chemistry, who has transitioned to serve as a mentor for an initiative preparing incoming students for success in the math, science and technology fields.
“There’s always someone available to answer my question,” Wilt said. “They’ve helped me with my personal statement and given me advice on the application process. They’re helping me package myself as the best person I can be.”
Another key element of the office is a greater opportunity for students to connect with alumni mentors, Trachte said. The office launched a mentorship database populated with the names of more than 650 F&M alumni and parents who have volunteered to advise and guide students and recent graduates. Throne and her team also continue to offer Life After College Success (LACS), a two-year program established with a gift from former F&M Trustee Ed Satell P’09 that helps students define, develop and achieve their post-college goals.
Clay Clements ’13 began consulting with office staff in 2011 through his participation in LACS. A business, organizations & society major, Clements enjoyed meeting F&M alumni and learning how to network through the dinners and workshops offered by the program.
He also worked with the office to develop his résumé and cover letters as he applied to internships.
The effort paid off last spring when Clements landed an internship at Prudential Financial in Newark, N.J., working under the direction of F&M alumnus Rob Axel ’88, chief accountant at Prudential.
After a productive summer, Clements got a job offer from Prudential.
“The Life After College Success program got the ball rolling for sure. It helped me develop skills and inspired me to succeed,” Clements said. “The office helped my confidence. They believed in me.”
Kines also struck up an alumni connection through the office. She spent the summer of 2012 interning at the law firm of Daniel Siegel ’81, a Philadelphia-area attorney who majored in government at F&M. “I learned so much because it was a small firm, and I was
able to be so hands-on,” Kines said. “As an F&M alum, Daniel gave me lots of advice on classes to take and what to consider in applying to law school.”
With increased attention on supporting recent graduates, Throne said the office has experienced a significant increase in alumni advising. Over the summer of 2012, Tammy Halstead, director of alumni advising and development, reported a 110 percent increase in alumni-advising appointments compared to the summer of 2011. Throne anticipates the trend will continue into the fall as Halstead travels to different cities, offering “coaching on the road” appointments and customized alumni programming.
One F&M alumnus, Christian Hartranft ’12, has experienced the office from a different angle—as a member of the team.
Hartranft joined the office as a postgraduate fellow just weeks after earning his F&M degree last spring, and is working on a variety of projects, including social media outreach and program development.
“I’m excited to help students use their robust background in the liberal arts and succeed after graduation,” Hartranft said. The office is rolling out several new initiatives in the 2012-13 academic year, including a pilot program with New College House that will bring alumni and other career experts to meet students at special events.
“We are excited for this upcoming year,” Throne said. “It’s been wonderful to see this team in action to help our students.”
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