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Center's Strategic Vision

Career Strategic Plan

The Knowlton Center for Career Exploration's mission is to effectively support Denison Students and recent graduates to actively explore their curiosities, identify and purse possibilities and build the skills necessary to realize the promise of their personal, professional, intellectual and civic capacities.

The world of work has changed. Colleges must help students and recent graduates access the on-ramps into the professions, and we need to ensure that our graduates have the ‘day-one’ competencies that employers and graduate schools require.”
- Denison President Adam Weinberg.

Denison has established the gold standard in career exploration.

We help students to decide how they want to live their lives. We help them gather the right skills and experiences. And we support them as they transition from college into the professions.

Our career initiative is a powerful combination of people and programs, and the results are clear: Denisonians succeed in the world.

The career landscape is changing fast.

In consultation with some of the world's top CEOs, HR directors, and successful Denison alumni across the professions, the Austin E. Knowlton Center for Career Exploration has responded to those changes with an innovative and effective program for career exploration — one that gives our students and alumni a significant advantage. 

Denison’s powerful new program, called Denison@Work, begins with three operating principles:

  1. The career exploration process should stretch across a student’s entire college career, beginning with the first year. Recent alumni also are included as they make the transition into the professions of their choice.
  2. The 40 percent of the year that falls between semesters is untapped potential. Denison uses that time to focus on pre-professional readiness programs and networking.
  3. Denison alumni and parents are a tremendous resource.

The Four-Year Model

At Denison, career planning is an integral part of a student’s experience across all four years on campus. Programs focus on specific areas that are appropriate to students’ development:

  • Awareness and Gaining Confidence: During their first year, students are engaged in a series of workshops to build confidence, explore current interests and discover new ones. Seminars and workshops build on the strength of faculty mentorship and advising. They help students begin by asking big questions about the kinds of lives they want to lead.
  • Coaching, Exploring and Gaining Skills: Sophomores develop relationships with alumni and parents who can provide coaching on careers and advice on how to fill gaps in technical and professional skills. For example, students can access OnBoard, an online program offered between semesters that delivers eight self-paced instructional modules on skills that most employers find lacking in their entry-level applicant pools. Topics include project management, reviewing financial statements, understanding basic accounting, and writing professional documents.
  • Hands On Experience: In their junior year, students gain direct experience in the professional world. Denison offers multiple internship and externship opportunities that can encompass a few days or a several weeks. Students gain experience across different professional sectors, explore possibilities, expand their skills, demonstrate capabilities and develop networks.
  • Launch: By senior year, students enter into an effective job search through a Denison’s signature program called Campaign for My Future. Students learn how to set appropriate milestones to achieve their goals, how to navigate resources, and how to deliver clear messaging to prospective employers through written and face-to-face communication.

Beyond Graduation

Denison is among the first colleges in the nation to formally support students after graduation as they make the transition into the professional world. Not only are online resources available, but students and alumni also can access Denison Connecting, an established and popular program that brings together Denison alumni in cities across the country and the globe for evening networking receptions. In addition, our grads can join career communities of Denison alumni in specific professions, where mutual support and the sharing of information helps Denisonians as they seek professional positions and entrance into graduate programs.

Denison’s Financial Commitment to Career Exploration

The Austin E. Knowlton Foundation has pledged a $9.3 million to support Denison’s gold standard program for helping students to transition from the liberal arts into the professional world. The gift has created a permanent endowment for the Center for Career Exploration, which has been renamed the Austin E. Knowlton Center for Career Exploration.

A grant from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation funds summer internships, both domestic and international, for Denison students. These summer experiences take various shapes, including field-based and traditional academic research; “short but intense” externships, hosted by alumni mentors at the beginning and end of summers; and summer-long internships for individual students abroad and across the United States, including in the greater Columbus area, home to Denison’s largest concentration of alumni. Also included are internships for multiple small teams of Denison students, who may participate together in a host of valuable experiences, such as working in a hospital in India, at NGOs in Ghana, at an innovation-based internship in Cleveland, or at a top-rated literary journal in Virginia.