WWS Blog

Career Advising With a Personal Touch

May 5, 2014
Published by:
Cherena Walker

“My door is always open.” That’s what I like to tell our graduate students at the Woodrow Wilson School. As director of Master in Public Policy (MPP) Career Services and assistant director of Graduate Career Services and Alumni Relations, I develop and execute the career services strategy for our mid-career graduate students and provide individualized career coaching for all WWS graduate students. It’s a job I really enjoy because the students are smart, energetic, courteous and prepared to take on new jobs after graduation, often at more senior-levels than the jobs they had before they arrived.

The Office of Graduate Career Services (OGCS) plays an integral part not only in the admissions process, but also in the career development planning for each student. For example, Ann Corwin, director of Graduate Career Services, is an active member of the Master in Public Affairs (MPA) Admissions Committee and I am an active member of the MPP Admissions Committee. Even before students arrive, the OGCS is thinking of ways to help them with their careers. Once new students arrive on campus in the summer, the OGCS is already prepared to work with and help them begin the career transition process.

On the second day after arriving on campus in the summer for Math Camp, new WWS graduate students meet with the OGCS to learn about our services and the resources we offer. From that point on, there is continuous interaction with the OGCS throughout the degree program. For instance, between August and September, Ann and I meet with every new MPA student. Yes, we schedule 70 individual meetings so that we can get to know each student personally and professionally and each student can get to know us. The meetings are fun and informal, similar to a meet and greet. In addition, Amy Craven, OGCS Office Coordinator, provides each student a brief tour of the Graduate Program Office (GPO) and OGCS. Amy's tour is designed to make sure that students know with whom to speak when they have questions. Amy also introduces the students to many of the important career-related resources. Since MPP students earn their degree in one academic year and several MPP students return to their previous employer (for example, military officers, U.S. Foreign Service officers and international governments), the career coaching process used by the OGCS is tailored to their needs. First, during their first week on campus in the summer I meet with all new MPP students as a group to provide an overview of the OGCS and to inform them of the career transition and job search process and timeline. Next, MPP students complete the initial phase of a Career Development and Job Search Plan. Then, in September I conduct one-on-one meetings with MPP students who will be seeking new employment after graduation. During these meetings, we discuss initial career plans and how the MPP degree prepares the students for their next job. Finally, throughout the academic year, I provide training tailored to meet both the individual and group needs of our students, in addition to more focused and student-specific career planning, career advice, alumni contacts and much more.

The OGCS welcomes every student to take advantage of the full range of services we offer. Our support of the students starts before they arrive and continues after they graduate. We are even available for alumni career assistance after students begin their post-WWS employment. We enjoy every phase of our work. 

 

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