Once the last strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” fade from memory, the Class of 2016 faces a less celebratory circumstance. Eight years after America’s economy went off the rails, new college graduates face a still-soft job market — the economic hangover from the Great Recession.
The somewhat tempered good news is this: a recent CareerBuilder survey found 67 percent of employers this year intend to snap up recent college graduates. That’s the highest share since 2007. In other words, better job prospects than would-be workers have seen in a decade.
There’s even better news for Beacon College’s Class of 2016 — and all students to come. They’ll enjoy a more muscular partner to share the heavy lifting of landing that first career placement. That’s thanks to the school’s recent fortified emphasis on career development — capped in May by the dedication of a newly named career hub.
Faculty and staff turned out last month to mark the christening of The Boven Center for Career Development, named for Peter and Rene Boven, whose investment in the professional futures of students at Beacon College — the first institution of higher learning accredited to award bachelor’s degrees primarily to students who learn differently — significantly boosts students’ readiness to join the workforce.
That’s never been more critical.
Nearly a quarter of employers surveyed by CareerBuilder questioned whether college and universities adequately equip graduates to fill jobs available in the workforce. Nearly half of those employers bemoaned schools place “too much emphasis on book learning instead of real-world learning;” another 39 percent craved workers “with a blend of technical skills and those skills gained from liberal arts.”
Two years ago, Beacon College meshed its baccalaureate curriculum with a newly rolled out four-year career-development model.
Under this paradigm, first-year students discover their core selves and learning styles, while investigating their career ambitions. Second-year students explore career options within their majors. By year three, students plan for senior internships, hone interviewing skills, and draft resumes and cover letters. Fourth-year students apply their learned skills in real-world work settings — often in conjunction with corporate partners such as Walt Disney World, J.P. Morgan, SunTrust and Jet Blue.
This critical connective tissue between baccalaureate scholarship and securing worthy careers didn’t exist when Griffin P. Boven arrived on campus in August 2012 with ADD and what Rene described as “mild learning disabilities.”
The Bovens soon recognized the degree-career disconnect.
“After Griffin had completed his freshmen year and we had seen what types of jobs the school’s graduates were getting (or rather not getting), we knew that we needed to start working on his career path as soon as possible,” Rene says.
Later, after Beacon launched the career-focused four-year model, the Bovens — cognizant of how competitive the global market has become — pressed for even more tools.
They “began questioning what else would the school be doing to assist in placement — especially since recruiters weren’t coming on campus,” Rene says. “It’s great that these students are earning diplomas but we wanted to know that they would also be getting real jobs too.”
Their opening to ensure those outcomes came last year during “Giving Tuesday.” Learning of Beacon’s pursuit of a grant to beef up the career center — a grant that required matching funds — the Bovens stepped up. They gave a significant gift earmarked to help secure the grant.
“We envisioned the money being used in helping place graduates in real, professional career positions, bringing in recruiters or going to them, having job fairs that covered all the degrees being offered at Beacon, and that the center not just be something to list on the website, but something that actually was getting results,” Rene says.
The Boven donation defrayed computers, furniture and makeover of the space. It helped expand outreach and student and alumni services. It also helped provide students a work space and a quiet place to tackle job applications, apply for grad school, fine-tune resumes and cover letters, conduct job searches, and practice interviewing skills.
“Before the [Boven] career center, there was no such place,” says Susan Ward, Beacon’s coordinator of the Career Development and Outreach Center. “It is a very big deal because we can really be a resource for current students and alumni.”
Griffin Boven, Class of 2016
And just in time. Griffin, now a 2016 alumnus, carries his snappy classic fashion sense, a cum laude degree in business management/hospitality and hopes of working in the Central Florida theme park industry into the job market. Hopes presumably bolstered by an internship this summer at SeaWorld.
And the career center that carries the family name.
Watch the dedication ceremony on video below:
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