Lehigh’s Career Services has rebranded itself as the Center for Career & Professional Development in order to serve students, faculty, staff and alumni better this semester.
The name change accompanies many internal changes to the department and the way it interacts with campus community members. The purpose of the rebranding is for the center to be more effective in light of changing job markets and more accessible to students.
“The ultimate goal is to have all students connect with the office, and to have every student connect with the office multiple times a year,” said Lori Kennedy, the senior director of the Center for Career & Professional Development.
The two main changes the center plans to implement are the development of a new career development and a system to facilitate more interaction with individual colleges.
Kennedy said the new career development plan is a six-step “action-oriented, goal-focused” process intended to assist students with planning their careers all throughout college, rather than mostly during their junior and senior years. The process follows students from deciding their majors and developing skills during their freshman and sophomore years to searching for jobs and creating an action plan in later years.
“Why we’re here and what we love to do is to support every student with his or her individual dream because it takes time to figure out what you want to do, where you want to go and what you need to get there,” Kennedy said.
Networking, the final step of the process, is also meant to be a four-year process in itself.
“This networking piece, we’re showing it as part of every single phase of what you do,” Kennedy said. “It’s not just a piece but really part of every single year.”
The center aids students through the process of networking by helping them find alumni and potential employers, and facilitating the communication and relationship-building process.
“I would say that our people are really experts in thinking about targeting your network, identifying who to reach out to and then getting connected to the people that are going to help you,” said Tom Dowd, the director of the center.
LinkedIn and LUCIE, the center’s own job search and networking website, have helped with the newly-developed plan by considering how aspects of social media and a student’s personal “brand” affects their job search. An app was also developed for LUCIE to increase accessibility.
“Let’s say you’re in class and you find out a deadline (for a job) is today instead of tomorrow and you need to apply,” said Kelly Mayid, ‘17, a work study student in the center. “Just sneak on your phone and you could easily press apply now with your default resume, and it’s extremely easy.”
Technology has also changed the way the center reaches out and educates students outside of formal consultations.
“We’re constantly looking at new ways to more meet the students where they are as opposed to saying ‘Well, yeah, come to us,’” Dowd said.
In the past the center hosted lectures and workshops about career-building practices, like creating a resume. The teaching method has now changed to posting webinars about important skills, followed by a more hands-on meet-up to actively help students through the process rather than lecturing.
Webinars and video chats have also been available to alumni looking for career help.
“You get free career support, career resources for life as a Lehigh alum, which is a benefit that not many institutions have,” Dowd said.
Besides the changes to the services offered to students, the center has also changed how it reaches out to students in the first place. Each college now has a center embed that works with the faculty and staff to learn more about and cater to the needs of each individual college.
The rebranding process itself has been going on for two years. It started by taking students’ complaints and suggestions into consideration in order to make the program better. The center worked with students throughout the process to ensure they were heading in the right direction that would benefit the student body.
“They’re always so welcoming saying we’re like an extension of the career center family,” Mayid said. “And with that, at these meetings we’re able to bounce ideas off each other, which essentially gets turned into reality.”