Career development, management courses aims to help students transition into professional lives

Franny Hocking, Staff Reporter

In light of the increasingly competitive job market, Tulane has introduced a career development and management course to prepare undergraduates for the professional world and to introduce them to the resources available to them.

“What we realized for students generally and for students not in the professional tracks was that there was a lot of uncertainty and not very good usage of the career centers’ programs and initiatives as students were starting to think about jobs and internships,” Dean of Newcomb-Tulane College James MacLaren said. “We just hadn’t done enough to help students understand the difference between coming out of college and going into college.” 

To address this issue, the university brought together a focus group. The group decided that offering a course to students about the concepts of career readiness and development would be good exposure to the realities of the professional world. The donations of Jeffrey and Susan Zimmer and Lisa and Cory Rapkin allowed the university to implement the class over the course of the following year.

MacLaren said that around 80 percent of jobs are found through networking and connections. Therefore, maintaining a high grade point average is not necessarily enough to be competitive in the job market.

“It became clear to us that we had not done a good enough job helping students understand the landscape of employment,” MacLaren said. “It is critically connected to experiences, networking and connections.”

Depending on grade level, the class guides students through resume writing, identifying areas of interest and strengths, exploring careers options in various fields and developing interview skills.

In addition, students make connections to Tulane alumni and parents, which helps begin real-world networking. 

In higher levels of the course, students will make hands-on connections with employers through informational interviews focused on asking professionals about their career paths, what they look for in employees, and the day-to-day aspect of their careers. While these are not job interviews, they are meant to open the door for Tulane students into those fields as well as introduce them to the vernacular used in interviews and businesses in general.

Though the course is optional right now, MacLaren said he hopes in the long term to integrate a career readiness course into general education. He said he would also like the courses to be tailored to specific fields of study.

MacLaren said this course is in part a response to the national conversation about the return on investment of a college education, particularly for degrees in the the arts and sciences.

“What we want to do is create this add-on piece that will allow students to translate what they have learned in the classroom into employment skills,” MacLaren said.