Scripps’ CP&R Rises to the Challenge to Provide Virtual Career Guidance for Students

By Emily Glory Peters

As a small liberal arts college, one of the many benefits a Scripps student can expect while on campus is receiving individual attention from staff and faculty. This March, while our students were grappling with the need to quickly leave campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the College’s student support staff were confronting a challenge of their own: What was the best way to shift vital services from in-person to virtual and limit disruptions to students while doing so?

Fortunately, Scripps’ Career Planning & Resources (CP&R) has been providing virtual options for the last several years. One-on-one online career counseling, for example, has long been in place to serve recent graduates and students studying abroad. Other programs, however, did require thoughtful retooling.

Changes to career development workshops and internship grants

“Something we changed immediately is the delivery of our career development workshops. Instead of winding down programming after spring break as we typically do, we expanded by hosting virtual workshops for students and alums, sometimes up to three in one week,” shares Director of CP&R Rachael Acello, noting that, even amid looming finals, the events have been well attended by students. The first workshop, “Internship Searching in a Time of Uncertainty,” directly addressed the apprehension many students are feeling and offered practical tips for how to maneuver the changing career landscape—including CP&R’s expanded options for students with internship grants.

“We’re thankful that we’ve been able to offer our students more flexibility than ever before in how they use their grant funding,” says Valinda Lee, associate director and career counselor of CP&R. “In light of the pandemic, students may defer their grant until next year or keep this year’s grant to complete either a local or virtual summer internship.”

Internship grants, along with CP&R’s Career Exploration Treks, in which students gain behind-the-scenes access to different professions, are wholly donor funded. Without donor support, Lee shares, students would be cut off from critical experiential learning to help them bridge the gap from college to career.

“There will be many students who had a planned internship or trek canceled this year,” says Lee, “so we expect the need for funding to be even greater next year. It’s an area where we welcome continued donor partnership.”

Individualized support for graduating seniors

While internship support for current students has been a priority, the Class of 2020 has also remained a chief concern for CP&R. Seniors are nervous about their post-grad career prospects, Acello says, and individualized support from CP&R can provide them with practical ways to navigate those concerns. By making personal calls to each of Scripps’ 200-plus seniors rather than relying solely on email, the CP&R team has been guiding graduates through the use of tools like Handshake, Scripps’ powerful job search portal, helping build connections through The Scripps Community Network alum database, and deepening Scripps and 5C connections through sites like LinkedIn.

More importantly, these calls have given seniors an opportunity to voice any career-related anxiety—something the CP&R staff is uniquely equipped to address.

“As trained counselors, our team understands that COVID-19 is impacting our students differently. Some without safe housing may need a job immediately, while others have outside support. We care about that context,” says Lee. “By talking through these challenges with our seniors, we’re helping them articulate their non-negotiables with job applications and identify when it may be wiser to cast a wider net in order to reach their next career goal.”

In addition to virtual counseling—which will continue to be available to students over the summer—the CP&R team is exploring new ways to scale their programs and leverage partnerships with alums, recruiters, and The Claremont Colleges to best serve Scripps students in a virtual environment. More than anything, they want students to know that this too will pass.

“This pandemic is not the first time CP&R has guided students’ career journeys through times of deep uncertainty,” says Acello. “We’re here to normalize that fear and anxiety, to help them find their people and their path, and to remind them that they are not alone.”

CP&R continues today due to the generous support of donors who value the critical need to incorporate career preparation in the Scripps experience. To ensure our students are supported amid the challenges posed by this pandemic, please consider making a gift today by clicking here.

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