“MC Works” helps students to plan for the future

Four years ago, Maryville College began a program to help current and graduating students prepare for the job market after graduation. Named Maryville College Works (MC Works,) the idea was to help students reach their career goals by placing emphasis on professional preparation and incorporating career-related advising and experiences into the liberal arts curriculum.

This year’s Senior class is the inaugural graduating class for the MC Works program. They are the first to have completed the program from start to finish and will stand testament on how MC Works has functioned to help Maryville students prepare for the next step. This innovative banner program, the first of its kind, will continue to serve its students in the future.

It helps students incorporate what they are learning in the classroom with the use of critical thinking skills, to ask open-ended questions, to market themselves to companies, to become adept at new job-search and career-development technologies, and to know how to find valuable opportunities. The logo and slogan that represent the program, a burgundy bridge on a gold background reading Bridging College to Career, accurately represents everything that MC Works stands for creating a link between what students have learned to prepare them for the future to the skills that will help them succeed at those goals.

MC Works preparation, now a requirement for all first-year students and some transfer students, begins freshman year. While obligations can be fulfilled in a variety of ways, there are basic core requirements that must be met at specific points. Freshmen are required to conduct a self-assessment, complete a foundational resume and attend a career fair in the first year. Sophomore, junior and senior students attend more career fairs, complete career development plans, attend information sessions and create a reflective, professional piece.

These tasks can be accomplished in several ways including attending Career Center seminars on networking, professional behavior or transitioning after college; taking active or leadership roles in on-campus or professional clubs or organizations; or even gaining a field-related mentor from the Career Center. These actions lead students to learn how to navigate the professional world, highlight themselves to prospective employers and find valuable opportunities in their field after graduation, whether its employment or further education through graduate school.

The main requirement during this process is to complete a Significant Practical Experience (SPE). This experience builds off the student’s Career Development Plan to meet individual goals. An SPE must last at least 45 hours, be spread over the course of at least three weeks and align with the target career goals of the student. This can come in the form of an internship, a volunteer opportunity, a senior study, a study abroad experience or a creative project.

Using Handshake, an innovative recruiting platform with easy mobile access, students can register for SPEs and browse other job listings, find career fairs and campus events as well as promote themselves nationally and abroad to prospective employers. Since the programs inception in 2014, MC students have participated in experiences with companies such as Blackberry Farms, Blount County Hospital, Boys and Girls Club and Clayton Homes. They have also had study abroad experiences in Egypt, Japan, Norway and Mexico to name a few. There are limitless opportunities for students to receive their practical experience through the college.

In aid of expanding the MC Works program, a new Career Center was opened in February 2016 in Bartlett Hall. The new location was updated and modernized to help better assist students and provide a more centralized and visible site to highlight to the students the importance of career preparation.

The update provided for office spaces, a reception area, a conference room and new technology, such as large display screens and computers for student use. The Centers computers are for students to search for jobs online and do online networking, and there is also a space to hold workshops on topics such as interviewing, resume writing, cover letters, networking and job search strategies.

The center has a dedicated staff to assist students including Christy McDonald, Director of Career Resources, who helps provide resources for students interested in obtaining internships and experiential training and helps to provide students with clear career objectives, tailored resume development and networking skills. The center works directly with students to help them complete the MC Works program.

Start your own path with MC Works at the next Career Fair, held Thursday, Nov. 9 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Alumni Gym.

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