Reprinted with permission from Bethany Lutheran College. View the original article, which was published on in the Winter 2023 issue of the Bethany Magazine.
One of the central questions on any soon-to-be graduate’s mind is, “What am I going to do after I graduate?” Though Bethany certainly prepares students for their future vocations, searching for a career can still be a daunting process. Enter Bethany’s new Career Development Center, headed by Angie (Rode ’99) Phares.
The Career Development Center assists current students and alumni with finding rewarding and fulfilling jobs through one-to-one guidance and resources. Phares helps students through every phase of the career hunt — developing resumes, interview skills, networking practice, and facilitating connections with local businesses.
“There’s lots of one-to-one conversations where we’re developing career and success skills, whether that’s the resume, talking about a job opportunity — or if they received an offer, how you deal with those types of things,” said Phares. “[The student interaction] is absolutely my favorite part. You get to know them and exactly what they’re looking for.”
Closer to graduation, Phares will have plenty of conversations with students about evaluating resumes and job offers.
Phares is not without help, though. Emma Morris, the Career Development Coordinator, handles the behind the scenes, technological elements. She works with potential employers on job postings, the Center’s website maintenance, and their social media platforms.
The Center currently partners with online platforms PathwayU and Handshake to streamline the job search process. Handshake shows relevant, available jobs students can connect with. PathwayU is a career compass service, where students fill out a personality assessment, and PathwayU shows them what careers would best be suited to their strengths. For easy access, both of these services are available on Bethany’s Career Development web page.
“We’ve always had career development in certain ways, but this is the College’s way of putting a concerted effort into it,” said Phares.
Besides one-on-one conversations and mentorship with Phares, students have opportunities to network in the community. Phares will facilitate mock inter-views with prominent businesses in town, as well as “business after hours,” where students go to local events and learn how to network. This gives students the chance to hone skills they would not get to develop in the classroom.
Career Development is not just for current Bethany students; it also serves alumni who have already been in the workforce for years.
“There comes a time in a career for reflection,” said Phares. “It’s okay to re-evaluate from time to time. We want to make sure alumni know that no matter how long you’ve been out of school, if you’re looking for further assistance or direction, please contact us.”
Though Career Development is a resource outside the classroom, Phares also assists with Bethany’s newly-developed Vocational Seminar course, a capstone class for juniors and seniors.
“It’s sort of like the finishing product for us to help students figure out how they’re going to translate all the information [they’ve learned] into a vocation,” said Phares. “It gives students a dedicated time to consider and prepare for jobs amidst their other schoolwork. Local speakers are invited to share expertise, as well as discuss things like leadership, taxes, and budgeting.”
Connections from local businesses come in a few ways. Phares and Morris will actively seek out partnerships, but there are many businesses that reach out to them. These partnerships give Bethany students a chance to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom, through mock interviews and networking. Following those events, students can assess if and how they need skills developed.
These business connections have also established Bethany students as strong candidates for future employment.
“During mock interviews, businesses were asking our students to apply right during that interview process,” said Phares. “That says a lot about the high quality of those students, and it says a lot about the organization.”
Phares anticipates that the program will continue to expand and develop, especially with its move to the newly-renovated Luther Hall, where Career Development is sure to see even more student use. Along with the Career Development Center, the Academic Resource Center (ARC), and the Ada Stokes Writing Center are now located in Luther, making it a central hub for student services.
“That area gets a lot of student traffic, so that will provide more access. We also have a lounge and coffee area, for if [students] have questions here and there,” said Phares.
The space is big enough for local speakers to visit and present to groups of about twenty people. Businesses will have opportunities to showcase their organizations and give students direct access to jobs and internships.
“We have amazing students — high quality, incredible people who are going into the workforce,” said Phares. “It’s fun to think about how opportunities facilitated through the Career Development Center will turn into a career for so many people.”
With the direction Career Development is going, there is no doubt this will be the case for Bethany students and alumni for years to come.