Isabel Grandy always knew that science would be in her future, but where it would lead her and how she would get there, she is just beginning to figure out. Grandy is a freshman at DePaul, studying neuroscience. She’s also a member of the Health Care and Science career community—one of six career communities that the Career Center launched earlier this academic year to help students map out their career goals.
“Growing up, I wanted to be a forensic scientist, like my favorite NCIS character,” she shares. “Then I thought about environmental science and being a part of some real groundbreaking research. Now, I’m considering the surgical field to help people with illnesses that can’t be cured with medications.”
Grandy benefits from the next generation of career services at DePaul that includes an advising model focused on areas of interest, known as career communities
, rather than college or major. The new structure helps students navigate and explore skills and career paths within a chosen field, like health care and science in Grandy’s case.
“Major does not always equal career,” shares Margie McGee-Newton, director of career education in the Career Center. “By transforming our advising approach to focus on industries and transferrable skills, we’re exposing and connecting students to career paths they otherwise wouldn’t have considered. We’re also helping them recognize how their interests can intersect across different areas, which is a reflection of the hybrid nature of future employment.”
Students opt into one or more of these communities to receive alerts about job and internship opportunities, resources and information about industries, and guidance from advisors, alumni, faculty and employers. They also receive invitations to community-specific events geared toward making connections and sharing knowledge.
Career communities are a rising trend at universities, particularly in liberal arts, explains McGee-Newton. DePaul’s model differs by offering an exploration community, which focuses on helping students self-assess and connect their values to interests and skills. Early engagement and exploration is key to helping students connect with the other communities.
Another difference is the team advising approach. Each community has a career advisor, whose focus is helping students navigate their options, and an employer engagement specialist, who makes connections with employers to find out what they are seeking. Having an internal-facing and external-facing advisor provides students with a more well-rounded support system.
Presently, the Career Center is working to build awareness of these communities, growing online content and increasing outreach and engagement through community-specific programming—such as employer-insight talks, networking events and alumni panels.
The digital content being developed includes community-specific sample résumés, notes about industry trends, lists of professional associations, and information about what skills and experiences are necessary for entry into a field. The Career Center is also creating a library of modules and resources for faculty and academic advisors to help integrate career topics into other areas and student interactions across the university.
“What we really want to do is get students excited about their future and change the way they think about the possibilities,” says McGee-Newton. “We’re revamping our advising approach but we’re also creating more avenues to reach students. More online content, more flexible advising hours and a more robust peer-mentoring program are all in the works. Our goal is to empower students with knowledge, increase their access to career resources, bring awareness to transferrable skills and ultimately change the way they think about careers.”
As for Isabel Grandy, she seems excited about her options, and how far her love for science can take her. “My career community advisor gave me some of the best guidance I have ever received on how to build an impressive résumé. I’m excited to begin applying for internships and seeing if medical school might be a possible future path for me.”
To learn more about the Career Center’s services and the new communities, visit their website