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Planning for the future

February 8, 2019

This piece represents the opinion of the Bowdoin Orient Editorial Board.

According to an article in this week’s edition of the Orient, many seniors are dissatisfied with the resources provided by the Career Planning Center (CPC). In the Orient’s biannual approval ratings survey, more than a third of seniors reported disapproving or strongly disapproving of the CPC. In a follow-up survey conducted this week, the number was similar, with 31 percent of seniors expressing dissatisfaction.

We think it’s troubling that the class facing the highest career stakes is so frustrated with the CPC. We acknowledge that seniors are also more stressed than other class years as the prospect of finding a post-graduation job looms, which likely contributes to their dissatisfaction, but we don’t think this is the sole cause for the widespread discontent.

We believe that the CPC genuinely wants to do the best job it can. In the past few years, it has expanded offerings for international students and launched a campaign to dispel the stress-inducing misconceptions that often come up regarding the career-planning process. Therefore, we feel confident writing about where students feel the CPC falls short and how we think it might improve. We believe they want the best for us, that they’re usually doing the best they can, and that this, like so many things at the College, is a question of resources and funding.

One resource that could be improved is the job board. Based on the Orient’s preliminary research, joining Handshake, which connects over 700 college career planning centers and job boards, would expand our network and the opportunities available to Bowdoin students and decrease the pressure on CPC counselors.

In addition, in survey responses and interviews, students repeatedly expressed the feeling that the career counselors, often assigned three or more fields to advise on, are not always well-versed in some industries that interest students. For some industries, the counselors are excellent—they know which alumni to contact first, how field-specific interviews are structured and other details that hours of Googling won’t turn up. In the areas our counselors know best, they can’t be beat.

But it is an awful lot to ask one person to have a deep knowledge of several broad career areas, and student experience suggests that it is, in fact, impossible. The career counselors shouldn’t be expected to be jacks of so many trades. Instead, the College should allocate more resources to the CPC and hire more counselors who could provide specialized knowledge in a broader range of fields. We don’t have intimate knowledge of the College’s budget, but when allocating resources in the future, we ask that it considers increasing CPC funding.

A disconnect between our classroom experiences, which generally preach learning for learning’s sake, and advertising ourselves as capable to succeed in a professional environment, is bound to occur. At its best, the CPC is capable of bridging this gap. We simply ask that it work harder with students who eschew pre-professionalism in favor of fulfilling other parts of the Offer of the College. Students who do not actively seek out help from the CPC are without a doubt harder to serve. However, we believe the CPC is capable of providing the resources necessary for post-grad success to all 1,800 of our students.


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One comment:

  1. Bruce Lynskey says:

    The most important tool you have at your disposal is your daring and initiative. I was the guest speaker at a Boston alumni function being staged by one of the graduate schools I attended post-Bowdoin. I was giving a talk on my start-up company. Someone in the audience mentioned me and the company to her daughter, a junior double major in biomedical engineering and Russian. I received a 2-page email from the daughter outlining what she was willing to do for us, how much she wanted to receive in pay, and how many stock options in the company she wanted. We were blown away by her email. We hired her right away and then figured out what to do with her. We found something quite challenging and quite suitable for her carrying back to school following the summer. She ended up creating an extremely valuable piece of work that included intellectual property on which we will file for a patent. There was no CPC in the mix. It was 100% the student’s daring and initiative. Unfortunately for us she got accepted to and is attending medical school. I wrote her medical school recommendation.

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