Preparing college students

2013-11-03T12:25:00Z 2013-11-04T16:58:27Z Preparing college studentsBy Christine Bryant Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
November 03, 2013 12:25 pm  • 

Kristy Moreland will finish her degree from Indiana University Northwest this December, but her road to graduation wasn't an easy one.

Originally, Moreland had planned to pursue a career in education. But something didn't feel right.

She already had earned an associate degree in business and a minor in communication, and was on her way to a degree in education, but says doubts continued to creep in that the career path she had chosen wasn't the right one for her.

Frustrated, she turned to the university's Career Services office, which provides several services to both current students and alumni.

"They helped me get my confidence back," Moreland said.

Working with Moreland to help her target her interests, advisers helped her discover her true calling was in the math field.

About to graduate, Moreland now is excited for what the future holds.

"Even though it may take me a little while to find a job, I know now I'm taking the right path and am where I need to be," she said.

Each day, advisers, instructors and other professional staff at local universities and colleges work with students like Moreland to ensure their journey on campus, as well as their transition into the real world, ends well.

"We see career development as a lifelong process," said Shelly L. Robinson, director of Career Services at Purdue University Calumet. "It's vital for students to develop their plan for a fulfilling career from their first day at Purdue University Calumet, and to continue the process throughout their college years and beyond."

More often than not, Robinson said, when students walk through her door, they arrive somewhat confused about where they are headed in life. By the time they leave college, however, they have matured into confident and prepared candidates ready to enter the workforce.

Part of this process includes addressing students' professional needs. Several universities in the region offer career preparation advice, including everything from resume reviews to mock interviewing.

Ivy Tech Community College, for example, offers workshops that focus on soft skills, such as time management, business etiquette and professionalism, as well as offers resources for students and employers regarding job postings and job placements.

"Many of our academic programs include immediate hands-on training," said Kelly Hauflaire, associate vice president of marketing and communications. "For example, our health programs have clinicals as part of the programs, so not everything is taught from a book, but instead students are part into the actual environment of the career to learn."

Beth Tyler, interim vice chancellor for Student Services at IU Northwest, said one of the goals her university is working on is linking academic advising and career services.

"One of the ways that we, like other colleges and universities, will strengthen our academic advising program is to link academic advising and planning with career advising and planning," she said. "It will involve helping students make practical decisions about majors as a whole - not necessarily about what individual classes to take."

Career Services departments also work to build relationships among students, faculty and employers to assist students with both the transition from college into the workforce and job decisions that are made further along in their careers.

With more than 16,000 students enrolled at the Northwest Indiana campuses and more than 165,000 students enrolled statewide, Ivy Tech has the challenge of targeting its programs to various audiences, Hauflaire said.

"We have the most diverse and complex student body in the state, so on our campuses we have programs that can help students of all ages and backgrounds," she said.

One of the college's programs works with high school students, allowing them to earn dual credit and get a head start in determining their career path.

Through internships, work study programs and career counseling, universities focus on preparation - something Robinson says is needed for students to successfully transition from college to the workforce.

"We are working to educate students on the value of starting to prepare for life after college early," she said.

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