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Core comps help Clemson students succeed beyond the classroom

Clemson’s Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) has 30,000 visits from half of the student population each academic year. Why? To help students succeed.

The CCPD provides career fairs, career assessments and counseling, experiential education, interview assistance, on campus interviews from employers, help researching graduate schools and programs, workshops and networking opportunities. All of this to help students succeed in the academic and professional world.

“We serve all bridge students, undergraduates, graduate students and all alumni up to one year out,” Dr. Kristin Walker said. “Our mission is to help empower students with the skills, the knowledge and the tools necessary to achieve whatever their education and career goals are.”

Walker is the Associate Director of Analytics and Initiatives at the CCPD and said she focuses on empowering students to succeed in their post graduate pursuits in a professional world from different from the days of old.

“This gen of college students can expect an average of 15 different job changes in a lifetime … what are we doing as a college and as a career center to prepare students for a very different type of world of work than previous generations have seen and that’s where the career competency initiative came from.”

The “Core Competencies” are communication, collaboration, leadership, self-awareness, integrity and ethics, brand, adaptability, analytical skills and technology.

Although CCPD services roughly 10,000 students through three times that many visits across the academic year, they’re also looking at broadening their scope to impact the students who don’t visit their suite on the third floor of Hendrix.

“We have some academic departments, genetics is actually over hauling one of the sections of their junior seminar class and integrating the competencies into all of this,” Walker said. “They’re piloting it next spring and then it’ll go into the rest of them for next year. That way we can get feedback from some of the students on what worked [and] what didn’t work before taking it on all the way.”

Walker and the CCPD have also developed proficiency levels, to determine if students are actually being impacted by the Core Competencies.

“Our center has internship courses, so students do a pre- and a post-assessment, here’s where I think I am at the beginning in the nine areas and here’s where I think I am at the end,” Walker said.

But the CCPD has gone further than simply having students check boxing with “poor,” “fair,” “good” and “great.” With the post assessment, students answer behavioral interview questions, giving instances of how they got to the level of proficiency they say they are.

“So if I think I’m at the intermediate level, then I answer that behavioral interview question with an experience from my internship that demonstrates how I’ve achieved that,” Walker said. “So that also equips students with the ability to articulate that to an employer.”

“Our students don’t have to be experts in all nine areas by the time they graduate, that’s not the aim of the game, it’s more of a lifetime development,” Walker said.  

Walker said her goal at the Career Center isn’t to just help students succeed with their transition to the work but also to help them be successful in life.

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