“Failure to prepare is preparing to fail,” Career Center Director Roger Woolsey likes to say, quoting UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.
But do students really need to start preparing for post-Colby life during their first year here?
About 60 percent of Colby students think so and have enrolled in Colby Connect—a four-year program of the Career Center aimed at giving students the skills to acquire jobs, internships, and fellowships both during and after their time at Colby. Colby Connect requires its participants to attend three workshops each year and offers optional information sessions and programming. “We designed the program specifically to attract first-years, to get them a jump-start in this so they start thinking about what their four-year plan is,” said Woolsey.
Though the Career Center has not investigated a direct correlation between Colby Connect and postgraduate success, evidence suggests a connection. The percentage of seniors employed at graduation has increased each year since the program’s inception. Last year 81 percent of seniors had plans at graduation, including jobs (over 60 percent), fellowships, and graduate school.
Colby Connect teaches students to assess their interests, skills, and ability to communicate, arming them with the tools to conduct a successful job search on their own. Employers, graduate school advisors, and alumni praise the effectiveness of these workshops. “They are referencing the program both in the sense that students are much more prepared than they ever have been before, [and] they are communicating more effectively,” Woolsey said. “They know what they want. And the students are utilizing the resources they learned in the workshops.”
Even the students currently enrolled in Colby Connect recognize its usefulness. Exploring options for a summer internship, Christy Adler ’15 attended the workshops to focus her search and identify her career interests. Despite being a newly arrived midyear admit, Adler said, “It’s not too soon—but it is a scary thought.”
Brian Russo ’13 referred to the program as “Life and what to do with it, 101.”
Woolsey says people view the program as “a value proposition” and an asset to the College. Part of the college search process is finding a school that will prepare students for successful careers, but colleges and universities across the country have difficulty attracting first-year students to their career centers, Woolsey said. Bucking that trend though, Colby has seen success. “There is not a college in the country that is doing [a four-year program like Colby Connect],” Woolsey said. “That is pretty cool.”