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Ursuline's "First Year to Career" program nets $116,000 grant

August 08, 2016

Ursuline College has received a two-year, $116,000 grant from the Fenn Educational Fund of the Cleveland Foundation in support of the college’s First Year to Career program, an initiative that places students in professional settings in their freshman year and provides career-focused activities for all four years of college.

“We are extremely appreciative of the Fenn Fund’s commitment and support of the effort to connect students at Ursuline College with internship opportunities that allow them to determine a career path that aligns with their studies,” said Gerri Jenkins, director of the Office of Counseling and Career Services.

“Support from the Fenn Educational Fund of the Cleveland Foundation helped launch the First Year to Career program, and we’re pleased that this new grant will help Ursuline implement the next phase of the program, ensuring even more students are prepared for meaningful internship experiences as they discover the career path that’s right for them,” said Kristi Andrasik, LISW, Cleveland Foundation program officer.

The Fenn Educational Fund provided two previous $40,000 grants to enable Ursuline to develop the freshman and sophomore components of the program. This most recent grant funds development of Ursuline on the Road, the career component for juniors and seniors.

“Ursuline on the Road includes field trips to employers in a co-curricular symposium model,” said Jenkins. “Throughout the year, students travel in groups of 10 to various employers with the goal of participating in an internship at one of the sites.”

Students complete six site visits to large and small companies over the course of two days. A dinner held after the first day’s visits introduces students to alumni and employers who pass on practical advice.

“Ideally, by senior year, every student has participated in some form of experiential learning to give them the experience they need to get hired after they graduate,” said Hannah Hardy, assistant director of the Office of Counseling and Career Services.

As its name implies, the First Year to Career program starts well before senior year. In their very first week of classes, Ursuline freshmen sign up for one-on-one interviews that lead to their placement in a micro-internship with a local employer.

In a micro-internship students spend 20 hours shadowing professionals in different departments of one organization, explained Hardy, who came up with the First Year to Career concept.

“Students often enter college with very narrow ideas of careers. We’re trying to expand their view and give them direct career experience,” she said.

Historic preservation major Clay Fellows appreciated his micro-internship with the Unionville Tavern Preservation Society. “Completing my micro-internship… has helped to confirm my love for historic preservation and has fueled my motivation to pursue this career,” he said.

In their second year at Ursuline, undergraduates participate in Sophomore Jump, through which they earn a free college credit for participating in a series of career-development workshops and then completing 30 hours of community service directly related one of their classes. Last year a math major completed a statistical analysis for a nonprofit and fashion merchandising majors volunteered at the nonprofit Dress for Success, which provides women with professional attire for job interviews.

“The thinking behind all of this is that we want students to explore career options available from the beginning of their time here,” Jenkins said. “The research is pretty clear that students who have exposure to their potential career choice early on are more likely to stay in college and finish their degree.”





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