Message from Corey Landstrom, Vice President and Dean for Student Life

January 2017

The new year brings an opportunity to take stock of our progress, and for students, that translates to a focus on their curricular and co-curricular experiences as well as personal development goals. For first-year students, who take one course over January Term rather than three or four, this time of year brings a different pace than the fall semester. Other students may be on campus for classes or winter-season athletics, or they may be out in the world for a study away course or internship. Regardless of their current experience, the spring semester awaits their return.

Several January Term 185 courses for first-year students piloted a lab section this January. In one of the lab sections, Career Center staff facilitated a session with students to help them think about the broader career-planning process. The goals for students participating in the Self in Context Reflection Labs were for them to:

  • Reflect on the first-semester college experience in support of academic and personal growth so that students may make connections across the liberal arts
  • Explore and articulate the value of a liberal arts perspective
  • Increase their self-authorship and self-efficacy through activities that encourage reflection on strengths, identity, values, and future goals
  • Build and practice the skill of networking through informational interviewing
  • Use information from various sources, including alumni interviews, to grow in their sense of self, vocation, and choices

Additionally, the Career Center collaborated with the faculty in an EDUC J-185 course with 100 students who are participating in educational practicums in area schools under the guidance of a cooperating teacher.

Students engaged in using tools to help them explore careers from a variety of majors, including strategies to help them be successful in their field of interest; they practiced using tools to help themnetwork with people in their field of interest, including developing a 30-second elevator pitch and they observed how to conduct an informational interview with someone in their field of interest; and they learned how to make the most of their applied learning experience through reflective journaling and the art of storytelling.  

These processes, tools, and skills will be useful for students now and in the future, whether they choose one career path or many throughout their lives.

The spring semester can be challenging. It’s the second half of a long year, and it will also bring moments when decisions must be made about the future.Room draw will begin in February, and thus all current first-year, sophomore, and junior students will need to decide with whom they wish to live (or whether to pursue a single) and where. Residence Life will be distributing the room draw guide next month, and students should be sure to engage with you about their prospective residential choices. The board rates for different living choices may vary, as will meal plan requirements.

Additionally, students will be registering for fall semester classes, and this may be the time for some to begin to focus on a major or field of study. A student’s academic advisor, a department chair in a field of interest, and the Career Center can all help students navigate this decision. While Luther does not have a deadline for which students must declare a major, some majors may require greater planning, and thus it is important for students to be intentionally thinking about their course of study.

Internships and other applied-learning experiences have risen as essential elements of a student’s undergraduate portfolio, whether a student is seeking a first professional position, graduate school, or volunteer experiences such as the Peace Corps or the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. Luther’s Career Center can assist students in identifying internship opportunities and can link students with alumni and other friends of the college who may be offering internship opportunities. The Career Center can also support students financially who may be seeking internship experiences. There are limited resources available, so students should be connecting with the Career Center.

For seniors, the next step is just around the corner, and hopefully they have been building a portfolio of experiences to ready themselves for the “real world.” The Career Center staff is prepared to work with students through this process, and I would suggest you encourage your student to begin this important job search (or graduate school or volunteer experience) process if they have not yet done so.

The Career Center’s four-year guide is an essential tool for students and is equally useful for you as a parent to review and engage in with your student. Unlike the Minnesota Vikings, who needed a miracle play this past weekend to advance in the playoffs, your student simply needs to be purposefully engaged in their Luther experience and to seek out the many resources directed toward their success to move on to their next step!