The November 2013 edition of The Lutheran magazine includes an article written by Elizabeth Hunter titled “Helping students find jobs: With a sense of vocation, ELCA schools go beyond basic career services.” The article features the Gustavus Career Development office (located within the Center for Servant Leadership) and the Alumni Mentoring Program, which was started by Kathi Tunheim, the College’s Board of Trustees Endowed Chair in Management and Leadership.
Hunter starts the article with the following paragraphs:
Sitting down with students, Cynthia Favre, director of career services at Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minn., has learned a lot. “Sometimes students think that if they haven’t figured it all out yet or if they aren’t in a job they’re totally passionate about, they’re a failure as a human being,” she said. “It’s a sad thing.”
Favre traces much of that confusion to a culture that can make work seem like “drudgery,” and to such well-intentioned sayings as “Choose a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” These expectations, she said, “are misleading and pressuring.”
Instead, Favre and other staff members tell students that, for most people, figuring it out and finding fulfillment in work comes over time. “It’s a journey,” she said. “We talk about persistence and resilience so they will be able to sort out whether it’s just circumstances or not the right place for them.”
Favre and staff members offer guidance that reflects the Lutheran sense of vocation (being called in this life to serve neighbors and the community). They enjoy helping students explore how their skills could be used to develop solutions to world problems. “I also tell students: ‘You have a responsibility to be a force for good in the world. … But what you do for employment doesn’t have to serve all the needs in your life,’ ” she said.
Frequently students are shocked. “They look at me, totally surprised, and say, ‘This was actually helpful,’ ” Favre said. “I think they don’t realize how much information and support is available to them here.”
Later in the article, Hunter talks about the Alumni Mentoring Program:
The college’s yearlong alumni mentoring program was the brainchild of Kathi Tunheim, business professor and the Board of Trustees Endowed Chair in Management and Leadership. She piloted the Gustavus Mentoring Program in 2010 as a student project for one of her management classes. That year a handful of business students were paired with alumni in their career fields of interest.
The program has now grown to more than 130 students and expanded beyond business majors. Today students peruse a catalog of biographies of potential alumni mentors and select their top three. Program leaders try to match them with one of the three whenever possible.
“This is such a great experience,” said Benjamin Reynolds, a senior business management major and a member of Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church, Prior Lake, Minn. He signed up for the program in 2012 hoping to get his foot in the door of the business world.
Reynolds meets with his mentor every one or two weeks. Although they can talk by phone, “we realized how much more beneficial it would be for us to meet in person,” he said. “We’ve worked on a lot of things: my résumé, presentation skills, how to interact with professionals in a business setting, building a network of the people I know in the business world. “He had me pick three people I’d worked with in the past and have conversations with each of them about jobs, their career path and referrals to other people I could talk with.”
You can read the entire article on The Lutheran’s website.
Media Contact: Vice President for Marketing and Communication Tim Kennedy