By Liz Lebron
New Center for Career Engagement and Opportunity Director Dwayne Peterson is on a mission to increase student engagement with the CEO’s staff professionals and peer mentors.
“One of the things we want to make sure students understand,” says Peterson, “is that career planning starts day one.”
Peterson, who most recently served as the assistant director of career services at Georgia College and State University, that state’s liberal arts college, wants students to think of the CEO as the “link between [them] and their transition from New College,” whether they move into the workforce or pursue a graduate degree. While he and his team are ready to help students navigate the job market, the professional staff can help students figure out everything from their area of concentration to important career communication skills, like resume writing and networking skills.
The first program Peterson will implement as the CEO’s new director is the 100% Initiative. The main goal of the initiative is for all first-year students to complete a career assessment and meet individually with a staff professional at the CEO “who can talk to them about the results of the assessment, help them explore their interests, and ultimately start to plan what kinds of experiences they want to have over the course of their four years.”
Peterson, who was a music major as an undergraduate, advocates for liberal arts education, and he encourages students to “expand their understanding of career pathways and pursue professional experience and opportunities” outside of their field of study.
“The problems that I’m facing every day here in the CEO have nothing to do with music,” says Peterson, “but I’m using the same skill set that I used to look at musical problems as I’m looking at career problems.”
Employers, Peterson says, are looking for the skills that are the hallmark of a liberal arts education, though discipline-specific content may not be relevant. “One of the things I think students need to realize is that they are gaining the skill sets that employers want,” stresses Peterson. “You can replace the discipline itself with real-life problems, and the skills that you’ve established by studying that discipline are transferable.”
In time, Peterson will implement a four-year career plan with benchmarks of activities for students to engage in throughout their tenure at New College.
– Liz Lebron is associate director of communications and marketing at New College of Florida