The Office of Student and Post-Graduate Development (OSPGD) at Franklin & Marshall prepares students for life beyond college—but how do you prepare someone for the unpreparable?
During this unprecedented time, OSPGD adeptly shifted to an online environment and began exploring new COVID-19-related content to continue supporting students and alumni alike.
“When our College and Career Center closed facilities, we swiftly revamped the online accessibility and scope of our career and professional development offerings,” Beth Throne, OSPGD associate vice president, said.
Ingenuity and flexibility proved handy with this task.
“We’ve been coming up with a lot of creative ways to use technology to support and prepare students as we would in person,” Throne said.
Some of these creative new offerings include:
The True Blue Network
In partnership with the Alumni Association Board, Alumni Relations, The Department of Athletics & Recreation and others, OSPGD launched an online community, the True Blue Network, specifically designed to support student and alumni career development and networking.
This F&M-only platform is designed to promote the engagement, connection and success of students and graduates, and comprises F&M alumni, families and friends of the College. Through this site, members can offer specific industry, career and personal development support and resources.
OSPGD welcomes F&M alumni, families and friends of the College to join the True Blue Network.
Virtual Advising Appointments
True to social distancing form, OSPGD moved to 100 percent virtual advising appointments and began offering time slots beyond normal business hours to accommodate the various time zones in which the F&M global student body is currently residing. Since doing so, the team has seen a steady uptick in appointments, especially with students who had not previously sought career-advising support.
Workshops and Webinars
OSPGD is continuing to hold numerous online workshops and webinars. Having hosted a regular webinar series for F&M alumni and parents before COVID-19, the team was comfortable shifting all their programming online.
“This allows us to continue fostering community and helping students who are understandably concerned about their summer and post-graduate employment prospects,” Throne said.
Among the offerings, OSPGD hosted a mock interview program, a webinar for parents and students, respectively, about supporting students' career and professional development and success during isolation, as well as skill-building and career development workshops in collaboration with class and student organization leadership.
“I reached out to OSPGD once the school announced that courses would be transitioning online asking to host a workshop, Are you Linkedin or LinkedOut,” said Rachel St. Louis ’21, co-president of F&M’s Black Student Union. “It was a heavily attended event with many students reaching out and seeking advice from OSPGD on how they can effectively use their platform, better present themselves online, and how to seek virtual job opportunities.”
A few days later, Stephanie Kessler, a student development adviser with OSPGD, helped St. Louis edit her Linkedin profile and prepare for an interview.
“With her guidance, I was successfully able to attain an internship,” St. Louis said. “None of this wouldn't have been possible without OSPGD's support.”
Virtual Externship Program
OSPGD soon will launch an online externship program for undergraduates. This one-week virtual job shadowing experience allows students to “try on” a field of interest and experience a week in the life of someone working in that field. Whether it’s science or technology, human resources or finance, F&M alumni and parents are offering their time and expertise so students can explore these interests.
“Not only do we want to offer workshops and webinars, but we also want to create experiences that will supplant those the COVID-19 pandemic suspended,” Throne said.
“My summer study abroad program and other summer opportunities were essentially all canceled, leaving me feeling lost and unsure of what to do,” Kim Fermano ’21 said. “The virtual offerings provided by OSPGD served as a great source of guidance during these somewhat chaotic times. The information provided was insightful and also very helpful in determining my next steps.”
Though the professional landscape has changed, students, alumni, and families can turn to the guidance of OSPGD to show them the way—as they always do.