2016-17 Annual Letter to the Community.

Dear Bowdoin Friends, Colleagues, and Supporters,

2016-2017 was an active year at Bowdoin Career Planning! More students engaged in meaningful ways than at any time in the past ten years, taking risks and developing resilience that will pay off as their careers develop.

Our goal is to create a culture of career planning at the College, where students reflect on their strengths and follow their curiosity in and out of the classroom. Bowdoin students receive support and advice not only from career advisors, but also from alumni, parents, faculty, and staff. To achieve this goal, we collaborate with student groups, academic departments, and colleagues in Student Affairs, and work hard to develop programs and materials to support student engagement wherever it happens on campus. The unprecedented student participation this year in Career Planning programs and services are evidence that our strategy is working.

With the help of parents, faculty, staff, and alumni, Bowdoin students chose to “Explore, Experience, and Pursue” a breathtaking range of jobs, internships, and research opportunities around the world. The range of skills and interests they develop on campus draw them to workplaces as distinct as their personalities. They are in San Francisco, Shanghai, and Santa Fe; in research labs, federal agencies, tech company cubicles, organic farms, and glass and steel skyscrapers. Liberal arts training – and the Bowdoin degree in particular – are highly valued by employers, and we have seen more employer enthusiasm for hiring Bowdoin candidates than any time in the last 10 years.

Highlights of the year included:

  • Record high levels of student engagement. Bowdoin Career Planning reached 80% of all Bowdoin students including 99% of the Class of 2017. Students worked with us in one-on-one advising appointments, information sessions, skill-building workshops, interviews, and alumni-student networking receptions. Our seasoned team of advisors has credibility with students, strong institutional relationships with faculty and staff, and can build on years of knowledge of what works best for the Bowdoin community.
  • Programs and events for every student interest. Bowdoin Career Planning sponsored 204 programs with attendance of more than 5200 students. We organized career chats with television directors, Peace Corps volunteers, attorneys, diplomats, scientists and social justice activists. We invited first year students to workshops designed to introduce them to internship possibilities and explore career paths. We prepared seniors for technical and case interviews – and dozens of other programs and events. As always, the strong Bowdoin network played a key role in these programs with nearly 200 alumni and parents visiting campus to offer career preparation and access for Bowdoin students.
  • Stronger ties between Bowdoin and the high growth companies in Silicon Valley. “West Trek” celebrated its second year by doubling in size. This spring break program sponsored 40 students to learn from more than 50 alumni, while visiting nine high-growth companies including Facebook, Orrick, Airbnb, Pinterest, Okta, Apple, Collective Health, Uber and Google. Alumni remarked on the diversity of the student participants, and with 40% students of color and 50% students receiving financial aid, the program was a meaningful expansion of access to new career possibilities for many Polar Bears. If you have a moment, we encourage you to read the article, Go West Young Student, in the Spring/Summer 2017 issue of Bowdoin Magazine.
  • Active hiring market. The recruiting year for Bowdoin students was among the busiest in more than a decade, with many new and returning employers visiting campus this year. Among notable new employers visiting campus were HSBC, Jefferies, Wayfair, and LogMeIn. A number of seniors who accepted jobs early were offered bonuses by their new employer for referrals that resulted in additional hires from Bowdoin.
  • Strategic outreach to humanities departments. We reached out to department chairs in the humanities departments, listening to professors’ ideas and identifying new ways to partner. The goal was to raise awareness of how Bowdoin Career Planning can best service students in these majors. Because faculty are often the first-point of contact in answering the question “what can I do with this major?” we are providing data and programs to help students and humanities departments recognize how employers value the liberal arts skills.
  • Growing support for student access to unpaid internship experiences. Due to continued institutional fundraising, Bowdoin Career Planning offered 18 new summer internship grants for the summer of 2017, and distributed more than $235,000, the largest total in the history of the Funded Internship Program. Bowdoin internship grants enable students to pursue internships in many fields where unpaid internships are typical including government, nonprofit, arts, entertainment, and science. Relevant internships are the gateway to full-time positions. We have captured a few of these students in a video sharing how their grants have enabled them to explore career interests.
  • Expanded preparation for STEM careers. Bethany Walsh, our newest career advisor, joined the team last year from MIT, and quickly established a reputation as an energetic partner for academic departments and student groups. Bethany became the advisor for Bowdoin Women in Computer Science, and established support for technical mock interviews, as well as planning programs with Environmental Studies, Chemistry, Math, and Physics departments.

We are inspired by the success of our students, and appreciate the many ways alumni and parents support and extend our efforts. We invite your ideas and energy to help Bowdoin students tap into their unlimited potential.

Best Regards,

Timothy Diehl
Director of Career Planning

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