In just a few short months, the Anderson University Career Planning and Professional Development office has gone from launching a brand-new career-readiness program to being recognized as a leader among all institutions of higher learning in preparing students for success after graduation.
AU representatives presented their experience in creating AU-PRO (Professional Readiness Opportunities) at a national symposium that brought together thought-leaders from universities around the country to discuss how to best prepare their students for successful careers. The Competency Symposium 2018 took place May 23-24 on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
It’s notable because AU was the only distinctly Christian university afforded the opportunity to present this year. More incredible? At last year’s event, AU representatives were just starting to think about revamping the career-readiness experience on campus. It was a process still very much in its infancy.
“To go from general awareness of what we needed to put in place here at AU, to presenting in front of our peers from across the country, is very exciting,” said Rebecca Albert, Director of Career Planning and Professional Development at AU.
Albert said AU’s presentation was geared toward schools who are in the same phase of their career-planning program as AU was last year – those trying to build a solid foundation on what employers are looking for in new graduates, and taking steps to implement a plan to meet those needs.
It’s part of what led AU to create AU-PRO, a series of activities designed to enhance classroom instruction and offer more practical experience to prepare students for a career. Among the workshops AU will soon offer are those in resume writing; building a strong LinkedIn profile; professional etiquette; and job interview and networking strategies. All AU students will be required to participate when the program launches in 2019.
While many schools take a similar approach, there are aspects of AU’s program that sets it apart, said Robyn Sanderson, Associate Vice President for Student Development at AU.
“As a distinctly Christian university, we take very seriously the idea that choosing a career must involve a student’s God-given purpose, and what they are called to do for the world,” Sanderson said. “Our approach involves finding the competencies a company wants to see from prospective employees and figuring out how to develop those competencies in our students so they are holistically equipped for their calling.”
Albert said AU has always been focused on its students’ career-readiness, but AU-PRO gives her office the opportunity to be more intentional about its programs while taking a comprehensive approach.
“We had a lot of these programs already in place, but AU-PRO and the success that our peers recognize has reinforced and encouraged us,” she said.
“It’s all about how we tie everything together: the employer’s perspective, how we market our students’ competencies and in what skills they are proficient. We’re more aware now.”
And others around the country are noticing.