Mount Holyoke Connects Curriculum to Career

26-Jan-2010 9:00 PM EST

Mount Holyoke College

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Newswise — With college graduates facing increasing and intense competition for both jobs and graduate school entrance, Mount Holyoke College has launched a new program designed to give students a crucial edge as they make the transition from their liberal arts studies to meaningful and successful careers.

Titled Nexus: Curriculum to Career, the program guides students in developing and following intentional pathways to connect their academic work with valuable professional experience--before graduation--through internships, research projects, and summer employment.

"In this challenging global marketplace, students and parents are thinking a lot about the relevance of a liberal arts education in preparing students for satisfying careers," said Jane B. Brown, Mount Holyoke's vice president for enrollment and college relations. "As an academic minor with embedded out-of-class experience, Nexus addresses that relationship. It helps students connect the dots in a way they haven't before between college and the professional lives they envision for themselves."

It is the academic alignment and pre- and post-internship components that distinguish Nexus from the typical college internship experience, Brown emphasized.

"Finding and proposing an internship experience is part of the learning process. Students will prepare résumés and do all of the other things you would need to do to find a job or research position after graduation, and when they return to school, the post-experience course provides the venue to reflect upon their experience as it relates to their academic interests and passions," she explained.

"The initial course work prepares students for internships or research projects, and we help them synthesize what they've learned when they return," added Marie Troppe, director of the MHC Nexus program. “Their remaining studies will help them articulate what they've learned on the job. When implemented in an academically rigorous way, as we are doing it here, such experiential learning can be transformative.”

Students participating in Nexus begin by choosing one of seven tracks--Art and Society; Education and Society; Sustainable Development; Journalism, Media, and Public Discourse; Law and Public Policy; Global Business; and Nonprofit Organizations--then follow a suggested course of study for each. In addition to having their usual faculty advisors to turn to for support, students can seek guidance from the faculty track chair assigned to their Nexus. Robin Blaetz leads the Art and Society Nexus; Lenore Carlisle, Education and Society; Christopher Benfey, Journalism, Media, and Public Discourse; Penny Gill, Law and Public Policy; and Matt McKeever, Sustainable Development. Michael Robinson leads both Global Business and Nonprofit Organizations.

"A liberal arts education, which we value so highly here at Mount Holyoke, is the best preparation for lifelong learning and sustained career success," said MHC's Career Development Center director Steve Koppi. "Nexus will prepare our students to be even more competitive in their pursuit of rewarding careers after graduation."

Located in western Massachusetts, Mount Holyoke College is the oldest women's college in the world and one of the nation's finest liberal arts colleges. Its students come from 48 states and nearly 70 countries. Rigorous academics and an internationally diverse student body create an environment that prepares women to meet the challenges of our increasingly complex world.

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