“From a student’s perspective, it is important to realize that the career services are actively communicating their ideas across institutions of higher learning in order to serve us,” said senior Mallika Penmetsa. “I feel privileged to be able to see the behind-the-scenes workings.”
A double-major in health and exercise science and religion, Mallika attended “Rethinking Success: From the Liberal Arts to Careers in the 21st Century,” a national conference at Wake Forest to examine issues related to the relevance and value of a liberal arts education to the workforce.
Over three dynamic days, presidents, career office directors, liberal arts deans, and faculty from more than more than 70 colleges and universities – from Ivy League institutions to large public schools to small liberal arts colleges – addressed and shared solutions to prepare students more effectively for life and work after college.
“This conference has far surpassed my expectations,” said panelist Mark Smith, Assistant Vice Chancellor and Director, Career Center, Washington University, St. Louis. “With a student mindset of ‘what have you done for me lately,’ we must always reinvent.”
Panel sessions with that intent included “Employment Market and Data Trends,” “Understanding Today’s Students,” and “Real Transformational Change.” Moderators and speakers included former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley and Inside Higher Ed editor and co-founder Scott Jaschik.
More than 250 national thought leaders attended the conference, and collectively they will continue the conversation started here. Participants will contribute to a crowdsourced roadmap to redefine how institutions can better prepare students for life after college – something that can be implemented at individual schools to affect change on a national level.
“I’m encouraged by the discussions about creativity and innovation at so many schools. American higher education is so inventive. I’m confident that we will be adaptive to serve the pressing needs of today’s students,” said President Nathan O. Hatch.
“Now I think we need to clarify and boldly proclaim what is a liberal arts education today and declare its value,” he added. “We need to think in more integrative ways so that academic affairs, student life and career development aren’t separate worlds. We must educate students as whole people in ways that will equip them for the world of work.”