Thinking Ahead: Santa Fe Office of Personal and Professional Development Expands Offerings
August 28, 2018 | By Kimberly Uslin
“We’re going above and beyond what is generally offered at an institution of our size,” says Jay Woodward (SF17, EC18). “When you can offer something to such a small group and have it targeted to a unique program, it becomes much more valuable.”
He’s talking about the newly revamped Office of Personal and Professional Development (formerly Career Services), where he serves as a program coordinator and alumni engagement officer. On August 25, the OPPD debuted their first event under the new moniker: Launch Pad, a daylong workshop targeted toward graduating seniors and recent alumni.
Divided into two parts, the event first featured a “Power-Up with Purpose Workshop” led by Robin Fisher Roffer. Roffer, the CEO of Big Fish Marketing (a major firm that, indeed, serves major players like Microsoft and Mattel), sought to help students and alumni define both their individual purposes, stories, and brands—all with the aim of making themselves and their St. John’s education more marketable to future employers or clients.
The second half of the day featured a “Now What?” Workshop, helmed by Creative Learningworks principals Jocelyn Davis (EC18) and Maggie Walsh. Davis and Walsh, whose backgrounds are in the liberal arts, worked with attendees to identify and assuage fears about the working world and offered practical advice for finding a job post-graduation.
While successful, the workshop was virtually unprecedented for many Johnnies.
“As far as I know, we’ve done nothing like this on either campus,” says Woodward. “Our main focus was to offer our students and alumni an opportunity to get an education in something not on the Program.”
“We held it off-campus, which was symbolic,” he continues. “I can say this as an alum myself: [St. John’s] is an ivory tower. It really is. We’re in the era of whatever text we're studying. We’re not in the modern world. This event was breaking outside of that ivory tower and going more with the industry standard. When you get ‘out there,’ not everyone is an SJC grad.”
While thinking beyond the Program is often discouraged, Woodward and his team want to supplement the St. John’s education with practical knowledge about “modern workforce expectations.” The new focus on post-campus life includes the flagship Telos program, a four-year plan to help students maximize career success, as well as the implementation of platforms like Handshake (which connects students, recruiters, and employers) and Vault (which features digital resources like industry guides, internship assistance, and resume and cover letter guidance).
As for future events?
“We’re throwing it all at the wall and seeing what sticks,” says Woodward. “We’ll try everything at least once before we decide on staple events.”
For now, that means shifting focus from low-level weekly events to “high-energy, high-impact events” with less frequency.
As Woodward says, “going to a workshop that teaches you how to update your LinkedIn is good, but meeting someone at a networking reception could change your life.”