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THRIVE introduces new programming for first years in collaboration with CXD

March 29, 2024

Courtesy of Jimena Molina
PAVING PATHWAYS: First-year THRIVE students spoke to alumni, learned how to network and built a resume in the first-ever First Year Pathfinder’s event. This is another collaboration between THRIVE and CXD with previous events including various drop-in hours.

Last Friday, THRIVE and Career Exploration and Development (CXD) partnered for a new daylong “First Year Pathfinder Program” to help low-income and first-generation students in  THRIVE prepare for future careers and interns hips.

The program was held in Moulton Union and featured workshops on topics like resume building, exploring career paths and networking with alumni. Senior Associate Director of Skill Development and Programming Bethany Walsh facilitated much of the day’s events.

According to Walsh, CXD and THRIVE sensed the need from the first-years to dive into career exploration.

“Your first year, you can and should be taking time to discover and just become a Bowdoin student and figure out how you want to navigate this place, so we don’t want to imply that you shouldn’t be doing anything other than those things,” Walsh said. “But, we can sense that there’s an urgency from students around knowing that there’s a lot to learn … to get ready for that next phase of life.”

This is not the first time CXD and THRIVE have collaborated. Both offices have collectively held individual workshops and drop-in hours specifically for students in the THRIVE program. The pathfinder program has only expanded their collaborative efforts.

“This came from both Anthony Parker-Gills, who’s the director of THRIVE, and Roosevelt Boone, who’s the dean for seniors, sort of talking about how we can forge better relationships with THRIVE students earlier in their time at Bowdoin,” Walsh said. “Of course, all students go through Sophomore Bootcamp as sophomores, but we thought, ‘What if we could do something earlier, [during] students’ first year just so that they’re more aware of our services and what we can offer throughout their whole time at Bowdoin.’”

According to Jonathan Macat, assistant director of THRIVE, the success of the event lies in its ability to break down seemingly overwhelming career goals into ideas that students understand and know how to engage with.

“Students are realizing that they already are super capable and have a bunch of skills that get transferred into relevant experience when planning or seeking jobs,” Macat said. “If you play video games … and the map fog erases as you move through levels … it was kind of like that, where they’re explaining, ‘This is what networking is like’ … We do these sorts of things all the time.”

The event was positioned at the end of Spring Break with the hope of engaging students at a time when they could be focused, excited and fully dedicated to participating. Students also had the chance to win a $50 Visa gift card.

“This was an attempt to find students when they might not be as busy as the rest of the year,” Walsh said. “That’s always the trick is that students are so gosh darn busy. We’re trying to make sure we’re catching them at a time where they can put their time and energy into thinking about their future.”

Walsh also said she felt that the event was a great success. CXD conducted pre- and post-tests of the students who attended, and students provided positive feedback.

“I think the program itself was fabulous,” Walsh said. “We had really good energy throughout the day, it really tackled the frameworks that we hope students will use for all four years.”

Amal Mohamed ’27 said she felt the event was well crafted for low-income and first-generation students.

“I feel like lots of people have generational information when it comes to the type of job they want to work, how to network, how to build a resume,” Mohamed said. “Parents often help their children with that. But my parents didn’t really have the experience to help me with that. And so I feel like THRIVE adding that aspect of education and resources by collabing with CXD was really helpful.”

Furthermore, Mohamed said she felt that the event gave her a new perspective on navigating networking that allowed her to more fully embrace the practice as part of her career path.

“I feel like lots of people approach networking [from] an anxious, transactional point of view,” Mohamed said. “But from the networker’s perspective, it’s more about, ‘How can I repay my community and extend it [my expertise] to them?’”

Overall, Mohamed found the event to be a helpful window as she looks ahead into the next phase of her career path.

“Even though I think I have a solid idea of what I want to do, it was still helpful to recognize where my strengths are and where my weaknesses are and have a place to write that down and be able to keep that for later,” Mohamed said. “Also, I have a resume already, but when I went through that resume workshop, I feel like there was already improvement that I made.”


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