Postgraduate Success: Meaningful and Purposeful Lives

Meaningful and Purposeful Lives
Mark R. Peltz, Daniel ’77 and Patricia Jipp ’80 Finkelman Dean, Center for Careers, Life, and Service

The Center for Careers, Life, and Service (CLS) is blazing new ground in its focus on preparing Grinnellians to lead lives of meaning and purpose. After extensive strategic planning, the CLS has developed a new model that rebukes traditional approaches to preparing for life after college. The CLS model is novel in many ways; holistic in scope, it is integral to each student’s experience and embraces the tenets of experiential learning. 

Holistic: The intersections of one’s professional goals, civic interests, and personal ambitions are important — very important. The CLS model actively engages students in discerning their values, strengths, and interests, and provides multiple opportunities for students to examine the ways in which they may contribute professionally, civically, and personally to the world. 

Integral: The CLS model is an integral aspect of every student’s experience at Grinnell College. From New Student Orientation to Commencement, students will engage with the CLS throughout their four-year experience. Every new student — first-year and transfer — will be assigned a CLS adviser. As students begin to discern their values, strengths, interests, and sense of direction, they will benefit from the CLS’s extensive team of specialized and career community advisers eager to work with them. Additionally, the CLS provides support to early career alumni, specifically those within three years of graduation.

Experiential: Given its high impact on student development and the ways in which it complements a residential liberal arts education, the CLS model embraces experiential learning. From job-shadowing to internships to undergraduate research to service learning, these and other modes of experiential learning provide students the context to garner valuable experience, develop new skills, make valuable connections, and develop the necessary insights to advance or potentially modify their goals. However, a singular high-impact experience is insufficient. All students who graduate from Grinnell College will have multiple, high-impact experiences to draw from.

Within this new model, five complementary teams work collaboratively.

The advising and exploration team helps students explore, discern, and articulate their values, strengths, and interests. Through small-group and individualized advising as well as a range of specialized programming, this team works with students to create, test, validate, and, at times, refine their preliminary personal, civic, and professional goals.

The career communities team provides industry-focused advising and programming to students and early-career alumni as they focus and connect their values, strengths, and interests to particular postgraduate goals and ambitions. The seven distinct career communities encompass art and communication, business and finance, education professions, government and social service, health professions, law, and science and technology.

The employer engagement team cultivates, develops, and sustains mutually beneficial recruiting relationships with a broad array of organizations seeking to recruit Grinnell students for internships, full-time employment, and related postgraduate opportunities. By using both high-tech and high-touch services, this team is responsible for ensuring recruiters know Grinnell College as a reliable source of remarkable talent.

The global fellowships and awards team coaches and advises students and early-career alumni through the application and nomination processes for highly selective awards. Working in close partnership with international foundations and trusts as well as the Grinnell College faculty, this team ensures Grinnell students and alumni are among the most prepared and polished candidates for Watson, Truman, Fulbright, and related postgraduate awards and scholarships. 

The service and social innovation team leverages the unique expertise and needs of our community partners, faculty, students, staff, and alumni to create partnerships that serve the common good and create an avenue for students to discern and integrate their values, academic interests, and emerging professional skills with their personal, civic, and professional goals.

My staff and I look forward to partnering with the broader Grinnell College community as we work toward bringing this vision to life.

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