Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Real world UMass: Preparing students to enter the workforce

(Martin Gee/San Jose Mercury News/MCT)
(Martin Gee/San Jose Mercury News/MCT)

As college students approach graduation, the looming reality of the real world creeps closer and closer. One approach the University of Massachusetts has taken to ensure students are ready for post-graduate life is offering career-oriented classes.

These courses, specializing in career preparation, are available in many different forms throughout a variety of programs at the University.

One example is the Women into Leadership program run by the department of political science. This course is geared toward providing women with experience in professional development that they can then utilize in building careers in public leadership after college.

Ariel Dickerman, a senior studying political science, participated in the program and said it presented a “great opportunity.”

“I applied to be part of UMass Women into Leadership because it sounded like a great opportunity for me to learn and grow in professional environments,” Dickerman said. “As a student coming from a low-income background, it’s not as easy to pay for business casual clothes, business cards and head shots, or even know that those are things you should have.”

Dickerman said the program made her realize she needed to develop certain skillsets, including confidence in networking, wage negotiation abilities and, most importantly, a professional network.

“I could not come close to achieving the career path I am interested in without those baseline soft skills. They have guided my behavior in internships, countless networking dinners, emails and more,” she said. “Additionally, I am now connected to a growing network of UMass (alumni) who already have careers in public service and are happy to assist me in whatever career guidance I may need.”

The journalism department also runs a career-oriented course called Journalism Launchpad. The course is the brainchild of professor B.J. Roche. Before Roche developed the course, she found herself helping journalism students get internships, so developing a course to reach out to a class full of students seemed like a “natural extension,” she said.

Department chair and associate journalism professor Kathy Roberts Forde said career development is key to her department.

“In the journalism major, we teach both journalism practice and journalism studies, so part of our curriculum is professionally oriented. That means that our curriculum and our faculty value courses that teach practical career skills in general and the professional practices of journalism in particular.”

Forde added: “We are preparing students to be journalists and professional communicators, and we want to help them gain real world experience through media internships.”

The Journalism Launchpad course is designed to prepare students who are nearing the end of their academic career to find work while doing so in an encouraging and positive environment.

“Our students find jobs very differently from how people, like in the Business Department, find jobs,” said Roche, adding that students often don’t even know how to go about finding employment.

Making matters even more complicated for students, Roche said many old jobs have become obsolete. The digital revolution has created a new working landscape for post graduates and Launchpad aims to help students face employment challenges with confidence.

“It’s sort of a combination of nuts and bolts, moral support and also its just really fun because you’re in this group with all these other people who are all in the same boat, so you don’t feel like you’re so lost because everybody is kind of in it together,” Roche said.


Ben Keefe can be reached at [email protected].

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