Denison’s Austin E. Knowlton Center for Career Exploration has emerged in the last two years as an innovative center providing students with the skills, opportunities, and knowledge to launch into their professional lives.
Offering career coaching, networking opportunities, resources, workshops, and immersive experiences, the Knowlton Center prepares students for lives of professional success. Heading into Fall 2017, the Knowlton Center is announcing three changes that will further strengthen students’ experience with the Center.
Changes in the Knowlton Center’s physical layout will be the most visibly apparent change, especially to students who frequent the Center. The Knowlton Center spans two separate suites within the Burton Morgan building: the second floor, next to the atrium, and the third floor, accessible from the Reese~Shackelford Common, where students usually enter the building. Career coaches and peer advisors are now located on the third floor to ensure that services and resources are easy for students to find.
The space one floor down, which formerly served as the primary reception area, has been creatively redesigned into a multi-purpose environment where the Knowlton Center will hold a variety of information sessions and workshops.
Dr. Kirsten Fox, the Knowlton Center’s Director of Campus Engagement, explained that changes in physical structure were made to improve students’ interaction with the Center.
If you look around the second floor, you’ll discover the second change. Now leading the Center’s accomplished team is Hank Malin, its new Executive Director. Malin’s education and business experience give him invaluable perspective on how the Knowlton Center can fulfill its mission.
Originally from New York, Malin has spent the last 20 years in the Human Resources function at General Mills in Minnesota. “There are few things that I have found more rewarding over the course of my career than helping others along their own career exploration journey,” says Malin.
“Every job (whether on-campus or an internship at a business or organization) is an opportunity to learn about workplace dynamics, hierarchies, dealing with people, and, of course, to build skills.”
Malin’s work in HR involved recruiting, training, and accelerating the careers of thousands of college grads, so he has a lot to offer. His advice? “Start early. Start now.” He encourages students to seize every experience as an opportunity to grow professionally: “Every job (whether an on-campus job at Denison or an internship at a business or organization) is an opportunity to learn about workplace dynamics, hierarchies, dealing with people, and, of course, to build skills.”
Third, the staff of the Knowlton Center has made far-reaching changes in its programming and structure to improve service to students. In response to a significant increase in student appointments over the last two years, for example, the Knowlton Center has converted its traditional 60 minute student meetings to 30 minute coaching appointments. Though students may still schedule hour-long meetings for mock interviews and other special requests, this adjustment will allow the staff to meet with a greater number of students in a given week.
In addition to the increased accessibility of career coaches, the Knowlton Center has also taken a fresh approach to career coaching. The office has been known for its support in helping students explore career pathways. While retaining its commitment to true career exploration, the Knowlton Center is also going to offer a focus on specialized career paths.
Dr. Fox shared that career coaches will now each have their own specialization, providing a sharpened focus on six career and industry sectors: 1) education, non-profit, and human services, 2) arts and entertainment, 3) business, finance, and consulting, 4) media, marketing, and communication, 5) law and government, and 6) science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and health care.
This shift allows each staff member to develop expertise within a particular industry and its trends, opportunities, connections, and desired skills sets, thus providing students with specific coaching within a particular field.
Staff can also point students to relevant OnBoard modules to help them develop skills in their chosen professions. A signature Denison program, OnBoard, uses simulations, videos, and games to help students develop “tactical” professional skills and knowledge. Topics include professional communication, marketing, and project management, to name just a few, allowing students to hit the ground running in their first job post-college.
These improvements to Denison’s model of career coaching all complement an existing suite of programs and services. These include career resources, drop-in access to peer advisors, resume and cover letter reviews, mock interviews, and personal branding consultation.
The Knowlton Center staff are excited about these changes. Keeping the Knowlton Center dynamic and responsive helps to ensure that students are well-positioned and ready to deal with the ever-changing and increasingly complex world of work.
To stay up-to-date with upcoming workshops, Career Labs, employer and grad school visits, internship and job postings, watch the Handshake calendar or follow the Knowlton Center on social media (@denisoncareer).