Developing Student Leadership and Providing Career Clarity

Kelli K. Smith, Branden Grimmett, Lexie Avery, and Marcy Newman

March 2, 2018

Students feel significant pressure to create a plan that includes a blueprint of major, campus involvement, and internships that will lead to career success. In a rapidly changing world, the ability to effectively navigate away from “the plan” is critical. Institutions are seeking ways to engage target student populations in career and leadership development to provide opportunities for self-reflection, skill development and relationship-building. Career centers however, are not typically the coordinator of such retreats.

Looking at Leadership as a Skill and Providing Career Clarity

Two career centers have created retreats to foster self-awareness, connections, and planning for the unplanned. Binghamton University and Loyola Marymount University are exposing students to skills aligned with the NACE Career Readiness Competencies, providing a structured space for candid conversations and reflection.

Loyola Marymount University’s Career and Professional Development VOCARÉ Retreat invites sophomore and transfer students to step away from campus to reflect on where they have been, who they are, and where they are going within a supportive community of staff, faculty, and alumni. The word “vocaré” is derived from Latin, meaning “to call.” This 24-hour retreat focused on vocational discernment has led to students feeling less anxious about their future and an increased confidence about next steps.

The Binghamton University Connections for Success Retreat is designed for sophomores with a focus on first-generation students and students seeking leadership skills. This off-campus, weekend program is led by alumni and employers, who develop interactive sessions that help students gain leadership and professional skills; these skills we know are vital for students to be more competitive applicants for jobs and internships.

The Student Perspective

“This has been an incredibly valuable experience that has drastically reduced my apprehension towards the upcoming years” – Spring 2017 LMU Participant

“Connections for Success not only provided the space to reflect on my experiences at Binghamton University but also equipped me with the tools to start preparing for life after Binghamton. From the planned sessions with professionals who were once in our shoes to the time spent getting to know my fellow classmates, this experience challenged me to reach beyond my comfort zone. By the end of the weekend, I walked away with more than professional connections; I gained friends that I wouldn't have otherwise interacted with at Binghamton University.” – Spring 2017 Binghamton participant

Want to learn more? We hope you will consider attending our session, graciously sponsored by the Student Career Development Knowledge Community at the NASPA Annual Conference, to learn further details of the retreats, how we have collaborated and learned from one another, data on positive student outcomes, and practical ways to adapt these retreats to your campus setting and budget:

Creating Transformative, High-Impact Student Career Development and Leadership Retreats for Sophomore and Transfer Students, Program ID-46957
Tuesday, March 6 (3:40 PM - 4:30 PM)
120 C - Convention Center

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