A new Career Center program to be launched next month will help first-year students coping with uncertainty about their major or potential career path to clarify their academic and professional goals—and begin taking steps toward pursuing them.

Titled "Envision," the program debuts this month at Barat House on Newton Campus, featuring interactive group discussions and exercises led by student peer leaders. Collaborating with the Career Center on the daylong event are the University Academic Advising Center, Office of Pre-Health Programs, Learning to Learn program, and Montserrat Office.

Career Center administrators say the purpose of Envision is to engage with students early on during their time at BC, and assist them in reflecting on key life experiences and how these may influence their choice of major and eventual career.

"Our hope is that Envision will help students develop self-awareness around their personal career development early on so that they can begin to integrate the idea of career into their broader sense of living a meaningful life."

Envision is the latest addition to a suite of career planning and discernment programs created in recent years by the Career Center with other BC offices. Envision is the precursor to Endeavor, an intensive career exploration program for sophomores studying the liberal arts that began in 2016. Another program is Launch, through which juniors and seniors can explore their skills and values, understand hiring timelines for their fields of interest, and hear valuable job search insights and tips from recruiters and young alumni.

"The idea for Envision grew out of a disconnect that seems to be prevalent among undergraduate students, between visions of what a meaningful life looks like and conceptions of a career," says Associate Vice President for Student Affairs/Career Center Joseph DuPont, who oversees career services at BC.

"At the Career Center we regularly meet with students who seem to separate their professional aspirations from their personal sense of purpose. These students are often choosing majors and/or pursuing professional paths that may not align with personal values, interests, or skills. This happens for all sorts of reasons: They may be uncertain about their choice of major, questioning their pre-professional track or feeling peer, familial or societal pressure to know what they want to do and who they want to become right now.

"Our hope is that 'Envision' will help students develop self-awareness around their personal career development early on so that they can begin to integrate the idea of career into their broader sense of living a meaningful life," he said.

A valuable component of these and similar programs, according to DuPont, is the role of current undergraduates who serve as peer counselors, sounding boards and listening ears to participating students.

"Our peer career coaches are leaders within the Career Center. They work year round on advising their fellow students on career-related topics and Envision is a culmination of their efforts.

"Their role is critical for the success of the program. Each has gone through their own career development journey and has a unique story and perspective to share. They will be able to relate to our participants on a different level and will help to foster an environment of reflection and growth," he said.

"Envision is a great opportunity for first-year students because freshman year is the best time to explore," says Naya Joseph, a Carroll School of Management junior who is one of Envision's main organizers. "Sometimes in the process of exploring, first-year students may change their minds about what they want to do career-wise —and that's okay.

"I, along with the other peer career coaches and Career Center staff, have worked hard this past semester to create a fun, engaging experience that encourages first-year students to consider what they are good at, what they enjoy, and how that all can translate into a career."

Envision will kick off with a small group break-out session, where students will meet their Envision leaders and other participants. The students will then create and share their own "wandering maps" as a way to identify the most important facets of their life before and during BC.   

In the early part of the afternoon, Envision peer leaders will discuss how their own career aspirations evolved, and participants will have a short period for reflection. Students will then be invited to imagine their lives 10 years from now, and to describe their "ideal future." Peer leaders will talk about resources and opportunities available through BC that have proved beneficial to their personal and professional development.

The final phase of Envision will bring students back to their small groups to formulate a personal action plan for themselves, and the closing session will offer tips for putting the plans in motion.

More information about Envision is available at bc.edu/envision.

Sean Smith | University Communications