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CXD Sophomore Bootcamp returns to campus sparking praise, criticism and reflection

January 27, 2023

Sophomores attended the various workshops, networking events and panels offered by Career Exploration and Development (CXD) for the fifth iteration of Sophomore Bootcamp last week.

For CXD, the goal of Bootcamp is to provide students with an opportunity to explore potential career paths while also developing skills and resources that will aid them in their job search, including resume building, cover letter writing and networking.

“Those pillar topics, we have pretty much down which is great. The other things we plan for are the other workshops that round out the experience and give students lots of choices. There are lots of things every student needs no matter what you’re applying for, but then there’s the chance to do a deep dive into your particular interests,” Associate Director of Skill Development and Programming Bethany Walsh said.

New to Bootcamp this year, CXD offered a skills and values exercise during team time to help students prioritize what they want and need from a workplace.

“That was a real highlight for me to see students start to think through all these ideas they have, how they can start to sift through them and make some choices about what might be good for them,” Walsh said.

Jasmine Jia ’25 echoed the importance of this exercise.

“The values exercise that we did was really helpful.… it really placed in perspective what I value as a person,” Jia said. “You were forced to choose eight [values] and made you really boil down what you really find important in life.”

Other aims of Bootcamp are to highlight the career resources Bowdoin has that students may not know are available and to provide these resources to students historically undersupported in the job search.

“Opportunities like Sophomore Bootcamp are able to even the playing field somewhat in the way that everyone has access to similar resources and are able to understand where to find these various resources, where to find various contacts and be able to contact all these Bowdoin alumni in order to expand the network,” Jia said.

Though Bowdoin has made strides in helping underrepresented students, Maya Dowling-Wolfe  ’23, who acted as an upperclassman team leader, notes that more efforts could be made during Bootcamp.

“I would like to see Bowdoin Sophomore Bootcamp address diversity hiring, hiring for minorities, how that process might look different, and how there can be discrimination in the workplace, especially in the hiring field,” Dowling-Wolfe said.

Additionally, students found that there was a lack of events dedicated to graduate school, a prerequisite for many careers students intend to pursue.

“I would have liked more resources for students who are looking into grad programs, Ph.D. programs, medical school, law school and those kinds of students. I feel like a lot of it was job focused and not thinking about the possibilities of future schooling,” Jia said.

Sophomores also spent a lot of time with their teams, groups facilitated by upper-class team leaders organized by last name. Though this allowed students to meet people they had never met before, it also proved challenging for students with different passions.

“I wish they paired up people with majors that were similar to their interests instead of just doing it by last name because that didn’t really make sense to me.… [my team leader] was an English major, and I wish that I had a computer science major,” said David Gelinas ’25.

Yet, most believe the experience assisted them in the career exploration process and determining what their life beyond Bowdoin might look like.

“It’s definitely beneficial overall,” Gelinas said.

And for CXD, after years of remote and hybrid Bootcamp, returning to campus was just as nice.

“This year felt like the Bootcamp we always wanted in terms of the world feeling a little bit more like the on-campus experience,” Walsh said. “We got rid of all but a little tiny bit of zoom and really leaned into the power of just being together.”


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