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  • BardWorks Program Prepares Students for Career Success

    March 19, 2018 | By NACE Staff

    Best Practices
    A young professional on the job.

    TAGS: best practices, partnerships, network, nace insights, mentoring, career development, students

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals

    Bard College has developed a program designed to solidify rising juniors’ and seniors’ soft skills, get them comfortable speaking about their skills, find them a mentor in their field of interest, and connect them with the larger Bard network.

    “Ultimately,” explains Elisabeth Giglio, director of the Bard career development office, “it aims to create a community of leaders who will succeed professionally, and make a difference in the lives of others.”

    BardWorks is career boot camp held over three days in November in Washington, D.C. and on campus for a week during the college’s winter intersession in January. The event is a collaboration between the career development office, the office of development and alumni/ae affairs, the dean of students, the center for civic engagement, and parent programs.

    “We have a week of career programming—from LinkedIn profiles to resume reviews to the art of conversation and networking skills—and assign each student a parent mentor,” Giglio explains.

    “We finish the week with a day of alumni/ae panels in four career areas and a large alumni/ae and parent reception. The programs connect students to the Bard network while honing job-search and professional skills.”

    Hands-on workshops, panels, small-group discussions, and individual mentoring sessions help students to become more confident in their skills as they begin the job search and encourage them to think about how their degree might aid them as they start on their career paths. 

    “We start meeting in late summer to brainstorm alumni/alumnae and parent panelists for our D.C. trip within the areas of international affairs, communications, working for the government, and ways to work with the government,” Giglio says. “We also think about a good keynote speaker who can provide broad career advice to students. Career development will host workshops with students before the trip to polish their resume and learn the art of conversation.” 

    The same process is followed for the day of panels during the longer BardWorks event in January. However, for this on-campus event, members of the community are invited to a resume roundtable event, mock interviews, and a networking event, and to run additional workshops.

    The workshop series includes skill-based workshops on resume writing, the job search, making a pitch for oneself, public speaking in the work force, and more. In addition, participants learn from a panel of local HR experts.  

    The BardWorks programming addresses several key focus areas:

    • Finding Your First Job
      • How to conduct a job search and find job opportunities
      • How internships prepare you for employment
      • Social media: how you present yourself to the world
      • Writing for a job search (communication skills and techniques)
    • Communication Skills
      • How to package and present yourself with confidence and poise
      • Preparing for interviews (elevator pitch, getting the interview, mock interviews, following up)
      • Individual mock interview sessions
    • Networking and Mentors
      • Learn the art of networking (connecting beyond social media and Google searches)
      • Role of social media for networking
      • Match students to a professional mentor with a shared interest for long-term guidance
      • Manage expectations and responsibilities for an effective mentor relationship
      • Establish guidelines for communication (verbal and written) and career shadowing
    • Succeeding in Your First Job Interview
      • Meeting workplace expectations (transitioning from college to the workplace)
      • Interacting with co-workers and your boss
      • Preparing for meetings and presentations
      • Expectations of written work, and formal and informal communication
      • Financial literacy for independent living
    • Planning a Career After Your First job
      • Directing your skills and interests to your passion and goals for the future
      • Explore your personality, interests, and values to connect to long-term career interests
      • Role of internships and volunteer positions
      • How to create opportunities for yourself

    The BardWorks team also brings in professionals who work in the arts, business, entrepreneurship, non-profits, government, publishing, and communications to introduce participants to a wide range of career paths. Each student is paired with a mentor working in the student’s field of interest or a related field, and receives advice on finding jobs and making connections within their desired field.

    Giglio says these mentor-mentee relationships often are strengthened after the event ends.

    “Each year, students continue relationships with their mentors and some find internships and jobs,” she says. “One year, we have a grandparent of a student come to BardWorks and, later, she asked if she could meet with a small group of students to talk about being a literary agent. Our career development office hosted an event for her and, a while later, she ended up hiring one of our students to be her assistant.” 

    To build a successful program such as BardWorks, Giglio suggests building connections across departments and tap into the experience and expertise of your alumni/ae. 

    “They are so eager to give back and a program like BardWorks allows them to contribute in ways that go beyond sending in a check,” she explains. “Also, consider all of your resources on campus. People in other departments may be a fresh new voice to talk to students about how to reduce anxiety during the job search or how to write networking e-mails.”

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