Launched at the beginning of this academic year, Wellesley’s Career Education is a newer model of what was formerly known as the Center for Work and Service (CWS). In addition to a name change, the new department now includes a mentorship program designed to link students with their own career mentor, more specialists for diverse career paths and an entirely new career website called Handshake.
Christine Cruzvergara, an Associate Provost and the Executive Director for Career Education, did extensive research into what various groups needed before redesigning the old system, including trips around the country to meet with alumnae. As a result, Career Education has found the changes since opening to be highly effective, with a current satisfaction rate of 98.7 percent in comparison to a satisfaction rate of 45 percent last year.
Before this year, Nicole Anderson ’18 only used the CWS once and found it confusing to navigate.
“I talked to a lot of other people, and in talking to my friend that worked there, I think the biggest problem with the CWS was that it wasn’t really focused on the students and how to interact with students,” Anderson said.
Part of the success of the new organization has to do with its constantly changing model and its focus on meeting the needs of its users, the students and alumnae of Wellesley College.
“We are always paying attention to new developments in the economy, in recruiting, with our stakeholders, the students, alumnae and employers. We continuously evolve and adapt as necessary to ensure we’re leading the way in best practices and don’t get stagnant,” Cruzvergara said.
Yuna Hahn ’17 agrees that the changes in the way that the program is run have broadened its impacts.
“They’re more catered to the needs of students, and they have more resources to give us the things we need, which improves our likelihood of doing better after graduation,” said Hahn.
She also suggested that other students visit the center, and said that visiting Career Education “was a very positive experience, and I definitely recommend it,” Hahn said.
The statistics have shown that many more students are using Career Education than the CWS. The new career program reports a 148 percent increase in student appointments compared to Fall 2015.
Kathryn Sweatman ’17 is an American studies and cinema and media studies double major who found the changes to be not just useful overall, but particularly advantageous for her specific career interests in the arts.
“Career Education has been a lot more helpful. It’s nice to have someone designated for your area,” Sweatman commented. “Sometimes it felt like before [the CWS] was just for Econ majors, so being from an art field, that’s really nice.”
Another of Career Education’s strengths lies in taking into account user feedback.
“It’s important to us that we never lose touch with our stakeholders. Formally, students and alumnae have an opportunity to provide feedback after every meeting they have with a mentor or advisor. This is part of their checkout process,” Cruzvergara said. “I also host Open Office Hours at least twice a semester for students to come and chat, ask questions or offer up ideas.”
After the CWS was revamped, Anderson has used it for multiple purposes, including meeting with a career advisor, finding summer job opportunities and applying for an alternative winter break program.
“I really love [the new changes], I think the whole revamp that they have done this past year has been really, really influential in my relationship with them. I didn’t have much of a relationship with the CWS, and now I’ve done so many things with Career Education,” Anderson said.
Anderson has also attended various events hosted by Career Education, and particularly appreciates the fact that career mentors are willing to travel to dorms to meet with students. Career Education, in turn, reports that it hosted 132 events or programs in Fall 2016, with a total attendance of 2,535 students.
Another change associated with the new career is the addition of a new website, which has been used by the majority of students on campus, according to Jen Pollard, the director of Operations and Analytics.
“We’ve seen 82 percent of the student body log in to use Handshake, and they’re doing so repeatedly and intentionally. Handshake helped to signal that change is here when we launched in August and we’ve received extremely positive feedback ever since,” Pollard said.
Students like Anderson also speak highly of the newly redesigned website.
“Handshake is great, and the fact that they’re continuing to develop it is awesome. Handshake in general is just a really great program and everything is in one place, and they’re constantly writing new things that you can look up,” Anderson said.
Continuing with their efforts to constantly evolve to meet the needs of their stakeholders, Career Education also plans to launch a new online networking site in the summer of 2017 called The Wellesley Hive, which will allow students to connect with alumnae.