By Anna Meurer
The Graves Center for Calling and Career may just seem like a nice brick house with a mouthful of a name, but it’s a golden ticket for many students on campus. Initially established with funds from the Lilly Endowment, a private philanthropic foundation, to support “campus engagement in the theological exploration of vocation,” the Center has since been expanded and maintained through the generosity of such college benefactors as Rollie and Lena Graves, Billy and Suzy Thurman, James Baldwin and John Williams, among others.
Since then the Center has also shifted to a more career-oriented emphasis. The main purpose of the Center, said Holly James, Associate Director, is to “develop students from a professional perspective and guide [them] in career development.” Director Ray Clere added that the Center is designed to “prepare students at Georgetown for a fulfilling career and a life after college.”
Currently, the Center offers an array of resources for students. Open on the weekdays from 8-5, students are encouraged to make individual appointments for personalized help.
A little known fact that resources are structured on a graduated scale, ranging from basic resume review and self-assessment tests to advanced networking aid and mock interviews.
A large emphasis, James insists, remains on guiding students towards the path or paths that are best suited to their abilities and aspirations. “We don’t make the decisions for them,” she says.
Furthermore, the Center’s website (www.georgetowncollege.edu/career) contains an extensive list of resources, videos and podcasts, career- and discipline-specific links and networking links for students, parents, alumni and faculty alike, including job listings.
Beyond individual meetings with students, James and Clere make a large effort to engage with the campus community outside of the Meetinghouse. Upcoming events include a LinkedIn workshop on Jan. 30 at 11 a.m., a Spotlight Career Fair on Feb. 27 from 2-5:30 p.m. and numerous Emerging Leaders workshops. Further details can be found on the Center’s website. Additionally, Clere and James make an effort to connect Georgetown to the wider community through networking, workshops and conferences.
According to James, “Big companies often overlook small schools” and she wants “them to think of us every time they are looking to recruit students.”
Another goal, said Clere, is to be “on the cusp when advertising our students [to employers].”
James and Clere both consider the Center to be largely successful in its efforts to reach students. Despite that, James asserts they are always gathering and evaluating feedback from students, alumni, faculty and employers in an attempt to continuing improving the Center.
Both note that though the Center is widely familiar on campus they hope to increase their depth of involvement.
“I think we need a clarification of what we can really do,” says James, “because every student is at a different stage and has a different challenge.” Clere agrees. “They’ve seen us but [several] haven’t heard us.”
Another desire expressed by Clere was for a greater partnership with the academic programs and greater integration into the GC atmosphere. “Career development is central to student experience,” he said, a fact that many students don’t seem to realize. “It’s not enough to just have four years of academic experience anymore.”
Suggestions have included offering career development options, either in courses or funded internships, for academic credit either in conjunction with major or Foundation and Core requirements. Ideas are still in development but one thing is clear: the Center will continue to work for the benefit of its students.