By Abby Weingarten
Pursuing a successful post-graduation career should not be a solo effort, and New College is making sure students have a well-supported head start.
This fall, the Center for Career Engagement and Opportunity (CEO) is launching the Novo Network Mentorship Program—a yearlong pilot program designed for second-year students. The experience will match students one-on-one with alumni and community mentors who will help them progress as professionals and individuals. It will be combined with a rigorous, credit-bearing academic course called Designing Your Life: Career Exploration and Professional Development for the College Student.
“This is an exciting career development opportunity that takes advantage of New College’s small size by providing individualized and personalized experiences,” said CEO Assistant Director Ciara Suarez, who created Novo Network and will teach the accompanying course with CEO Director Dwayne Peterson. “Students will be personally matched with a mentor based on the information they share in their application related to their career goals, professional interests and personal identity.”
The student application is due on June 1, and mentors will be matched to interested students accordingly. New College Foundation, the New College Alumni Association and the College’s community partners will play an instrumental role in helping the CEO recruit high-quality mentors who are dedicated to students’ success. The goal is to have 20 students and 20 mentors.
“There are so many alums and members of the community who want to engage with students,” Suarez said. “It’s a great way for them to give back in a way that could definitely change a student’s life (and it’s a minimal time commitment).”
The pairs will meet once a month or more from September to April (though the coursework will only be required for the fall semester), and at least two of these mentoring meetings will be held in real time (face-to-face, or via phone or Zoom calls). Mentors will receive monthly emails with information about topics being covered so that they can continue the conversation with their mentees outside of the classroom.
“Students will participate in the course during the fall semester to prepare for these meaningful conversations and professional relationships with their mentors,” Suarez said. “In this course, students will have the opportunity to engage in exploration activities to gain insights in three key areas: self, academic pathways and careers.”
According to Peterson, Novo Network is a continuation of New College’s strategic plan to integrate career planning into academics.
“It builds upon our first-year initiative, so students in the first year have an opportunity to meet a career coach, take a career assessment, and explore the many career options available to them. The second-year initiative takes their career exploration to the next level with this mentorship component,” Peterson said. “The earlier you start with career planning, the more successful you’ll be.”
In preparation for creating and launching Novo Network, Suarez connected with individuals from 12 different colleges, and researched multiple programs and models via college career center websites. She spent six months doing intensive research into the dynamics of the available programs, inquiring about what was working and what could be improved.
None of the programs Suarez explored were specifically designed for second-year students. And none of them offered an academic, for-credit course in combination with in-depth mentorship. Her program is uniquely designed for New College, and it is a tremendous opportunity for students who want to increase their job marketability early.
“This program gives New College an advantage because, according to my research, no other colleges are offering a mentorship experience like this one,” Suarez said. “This could really set New College students apart.”
In addition to Novo Network, the CEO is bringing mentorship opportunities to all students (not just second-years) through a platform called Wisr, which offers online flash career mentoring with alumni and community members.
Abby Weingarten is the editor/writer in the Office of Communications & Marketing.