Thomas W. Durso
University of Baltimore

A phased approach to career education empowers students to manage their job situations, come what may.

Among the effects of the economic collapse of the last decade was a reorientation of the job market. For new college grads, in particular, the new complexities were profound.

“After 2008, obviously the labor market completely changed,” says Lakeisha Mathews, director of career and professional development at the University of Baltimore, “and it changed in a great way for folks who had college degrees or would graduate with college degrees.”

Recognizing the new realities—and cognizant of greater national scrutiny of how colleges were preparing students for life after graduation—University of Baltimore developed a program to provide students with the tools for professional success after graduation and beyond.

Seeking to embody the university’s tagline—Knowledge That Works—the Career Cycle program offers a four-phase approach: discovery of direction, exploration of the world of work, communication of personal brand and creation of opportunities. It’s all meant to empower students and graduates to take charge of their careers and be ready for any bumps in the road.

The Career and Professional Development Center teaches the Career Cycle in freshman and sophomore seminar courses. The university’s admissions team uses the cycle as a recruitment tool, and academic advisors across the campus incorporate it into their advising.

“No matter what happens in a chaotic labor market, these four phases are applicable—that’s the beauty of this,” Mathews says. “No matter what happens, this is at the core of smart career decision-making, and it’s based on career development theory.”

Student surveys and workshop evaluations help Mathews and her team determine the effectiveness of Career Cycle and track employment outcomes of recent graduates. And an increasing number of faculty are requesting Career Cycle presentations in their classes to reach students who have not made it to the career center. A three-credit career course, titled “CareerQuest” and open to all students, was implemented last spring.

“We want [students] to be completely in control of their career from the moment they step on our campus to the moment they leave, and down the road after the point of departure,” says Mathews. “Career is something that affects every single person in our nation, and for many of us, it’s part of our identity.”