Getting from where you are to the career you want: That's a journey. A journey that should start long before graduation. A journey that now comes, to extend the metaphor, with GPS guidance.
Johns Hopkins University students will find their digital route map at a new career planning website. It's the first universitywide resource of its type, designed by experts from the career centers serving all nine Johns Hopkins schools. Any student—undergraduate or grad student; full- or part-time; engineer, musician, or totally undecided—can use it as soon as he or she starts classes at the university.
Because the real work, says Kathy Bovard, isn't typing up the résumé, applying for grad school, or writing the business plan for a startup. All that comes later. The real work is figuring out who you are, what you care about, what you might be good at, and what opportunities there are for doing that work.
"It begins with self-assessment, starting as soon as you get to Hopkins," says Bovard, career services lead for the university's Student Services Excellence Initiative, or SSEI, which created the new site. "What are your interests? What are your skills? What's your value proposition to an employer?"
That's the first leg of the journey, and there are tools and advice for following that part of the route in the "Assess Yourself" section of the website. Four follow-up sections lead the user further along the road: "Research Career Paths," "Make Decisions," and "Take Action" are intended to guide you toward that first post-Johns Hopkins opportunity. The final section, "Manage Your Career," takes you even farther, with guidance for professional development, work-life balance and, eventually, the next career move.
In each section, users will find advice, tools, and checklists. There are TEDTalks, self-assessment instruments, databases, and insights from the pros. You can even find advice on negotiating compensation or strategies for the first 90 days on the job.
The website has even more. For instance, you can find resources specifically for students who want to work somewhere other than their native country. There is information targeted to doctoral students and post-docs. And, of course, there is a link to the career center serving each Johns Hopkins school.
Bovard, who directs career education and coaching at the Carey Business School, says that even more changes are coming under the auspices of SSEI, a project of the Office of the Provost.
By the start of the 2018–2019 academic year, she says, the schools' career centers will, for the first time, all be working with the same online platform to manage their work with students, alumni, and employers. Anyone seeking to find or offer a job through any of the divisional career centers will be able to start from the same easy-to-find, easy-to-manage portal, making it easier to share opportunities and track results, she said.
"In my almost 28 years of one affiliation or another with Johns Hopkins, I've never seen such collaboration for the benefit of all the university's students as I do now," Bovard said. "That's exciting. There's a lot of momentum."
And momentum is good when you're starting a journey.