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New F&M Office to Help Guide Students, Alumni on 'Trajectories of Success'

Strengthening its commitment to holistic student development, Franklin & Marshall College has launched a new office to enhance the services dedicated to preparing students and alumni for their lives and careers beyond college: the Office of Student and Post-Graduate Development.

Introduced July 1, the new office represents an evolution of F&M's former Career Services office designed to help students apply the skills they've acquired through academic experiences toward their pursuit of career options. The office—housed in the same building as the former Career Services office at 619 College Ave.—includes advising for health, legal and education professions in addition to more general student and alumni development advising.

F&M alumna Beth Throne '95, who joined the College in September 2011 after working as an attorney at Fox Rothschild LLP in Exton, Pa., leads the office as associate vice president for student and post-graduate development.

The office has developed targeted resources for students and alumni to help launch them on successful trajectories toward their post-graduate pursuits, F&M President Daniel R. Porterfield said.

"Our new Office of Student and Post-Graduate Development will help students build individualized, high-impact experiences while at F&M to prepare for fulfilling lives as young adults after college," Porterfield said. "And our work doesn't stop when students graduate. Our holistic approach will support students as they make many critical career and life decisions in the years after graduation, and will engage alumni of all ages in the life of the College."

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  • Franklin & Marshall student Dana Davis '13 (right) meets Susan Springsteen, co-founder of nth Solutions LLC, an electronic product developer and manufacturer in Exton, Pa., at F&M in February. Springsteen visited F&M to speak at a dinner sponsored by Life After College Success, a program that helps F&M students define, develop and achieve their post-college goals. F&M's newly launched Office of Student & Post-Graduate Development will continue to offer this program among a broad range of services to help students explore potential career pathways and prepare them to compete for opportunities they seek. (Photo by Eric Forberger)

The office reports to Dean of the College Kent Trachte, who said F&M's effort to move beyond career-related services began several years ago with a task force chaired by Trustee Doug McCormack '85 and continued with another task force chaired by Trustee Eric Noll '83, P'09.

"The establishment of this office represents the next stage of our commitment to enhance the ways the College supports and assists students with the transition to life after college," Trachte said. "What emerged from the task forces was a recognition that we move away from a model rooted in counseling in favor of a coaching approach, where students develop a game plan with action steps. President Porterfield brought a real commitment to improving the way the College positions its students to compete successfully for life after college."

In developing the new office, the College aims to help students apply skills they've learned in classrooms and laboratories to prepare for lifetimes of success, Trachte said.

"It's important that students follow their intellectual passions," Trachte said. "They need to pursue what they find interesting and ask the questions they find interesting. Institutionally, we need to help students articulate those experiences to help them compete for internships, fellowships and jobs. What skills in a research experience can help them? The academic experiences they've had become assets."

Evolving Model for Student Support

Throne has been busy spearheading the office's development over the past year, a process, she said, that has been guided by the question, "What do our students and post-graduates want and need?"

"We want to help students with three aspects of their development as F&M students: preparing to launch, launching and sustaining trajectories of success," Throne said. "In so doing, we hope to equip them with the skills and networks they need to be competitive."

Throne said one immediate improvement is DipLink, F&M's new resource for job and internship research that replaces F&M Connect. DipLink enables students and alumni to research employers, apply for internships and jobs, and register for upcoming events.

In developing the new office, Trachte said the College wanted to create a single place where students could obtain broad career advising and specific advising for health professions and legal professions. Laurie Baulig, adjunct assistant professor of business, organizations and society and of women's and gender studies, joined the office as director of legal professions advising. Glenn Cummings joined F&M as director of health professions advising after serving in a similar position for eight years at Princeton University.

"In the past, these areas of advising were disparate. Students often felt like a Ping-Pong ball going to different offices on campus for advising," Trachte said. "Our new office has a much higher level of coordination for individual advising."

Another key element of the office is a greater opportunity for students to connect with alumni mentors, Trachte said. Throne and her team will continue to offer Life After College Success, a two-year program established with a gift from former F&M Trustee Ed Satell P'09 that helps students define, develop and achieve their post-college goals. The office is also launching a mentorship database populated with more than 650 F&M alumni and parents who have volunteered to advise and guide students and recent graduates.

With increased attention on supporting recent graduates, Throne said the office has experienced a significant increase in alumni advising. This summer, Tammy Halstead, director of alumni advising and development, reported a 110 percent increase in alumni-advising appointments compared to the summer of 2011. Throne anticipates that this trend will continue into the fall as Halstead travels to different cities, offering "coaching on the road" appointments and customized alumni programming.

One F&M alumnus, Christian Hartranft '12, has experienced the office from a different angle—as a member of the team. Hartranft joined the office as a post-graduate fellow just weeks after receiving his F&M degree last spring, and is working on a variety of projects, including social media outreach and program development.

"I'm excited to help students use their robust background in the liberal arts and succeed after graduation," Hartranft said.

The office is rolling out several new initiatives in the 2012-13 academic year, including a pilot program with New College House that will bring alumni and other career experts to meet students at special events.

"We are excited for this upcoming year," Throne said. "It's been wonderful to see this team in action to help our students."