Marcia Layton Turner
Seton Hill University

While many colleges and universities have rolled out career readiness programs to help graduates make the leap to professional employment, Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania has taken the extra step of embedding career prep into its academic program.

Fit for the World, a four-year career readiness program, blends personalized career prep work within a liberal arts education, says Renée Starek, director of Seton Hill’s career and professional development center.

When she arrived at Seton Hill four years ago, the focus was on seniors about to graduate. Starek worked closely with faculty to spread the work out over all four years.

All freshmen enroll in the Connections class, which uses the online career planning tool FOCUS 2 to evaluate interests, skills and values to determine if their major fits. Students then can confirm they’re on the right track or explore other majors.

Sophomores learn more about career options from faculty, alumni mentors and occupational research assignments. Junior and senior year work is focused more on experiential learning in students’ proposed career fields. And in a senior seminar, students complete a résumé and use the mock interview platform InterviewStream for practice in presenting themselves.

Fit for the World has impacted retention rates by “helping undeclared students find their place within the university,” says Starek. It has also transformed campus culture. Faculty in all academic departments now work in partnership with the career and professional development center to support their enhanced role in their students’ success, she says.

Recently, she adds, Seton Hill surveyed graduating students and found that 97 percent are happy about their post-graduation plans and feel they’re moving in the right direction.

National Trends Link

  • Having a paid internship with a for-profit employer boosted a graduate’s chances of getting a job offer and provided a higher starting salary when compared to the class overall.
  • More than 52 percent of students who had a paid internship at a business received offers, versus 46 percent of the class overall.

Source: National Association of Colleges and Employers "Class of 2016 Student Survey Report"