students talk while being helped at a reception desk in the Center for Career Advancement

Photos: Emily Paine

Pave the Way

" " Bucknell’s Center for Career Advancement launches a new approach to career exploration

by Katie Williard

Bucknellians now have a new map to help them find their most meaningful career path.

Launched in fall 2021 by Bucknell’s Center for Career Advancement (CCA), Career Communities introduce students to six industry-specific career groups: Business & Consulting; STEM; Creative Arts, Media & Communications; Government & Public Interest; Law; and Health. Students can join as many communities as they desire — starting their first year at Bucknell — while they discern their best path forward.

The fresh approach is a differentiating factor in the way Bucknell does career coaching. Career coaches help students break down and identify their career interests, recognizing students’ preferences may fall outside what might be obvious for their major.

“Just because you study engineering or English doesn’t mean that the person sitting next to you with the same major will choose the same career path,” says Emily Dietrich, associate director of industry connections & experiences. “Career Communities offer students the opportunity to build community outside their major with others who are interested in a similar career path.”

two students smile while asking questions to an associate in the Center for Career Advancement

Bucknell’s new Career Communities are based on industry rather than major to help students explore opportunities.

Communities are led by members of the CCA staff who — in addition to serving as industry-specific career coaches — prepare biweekly email newsletters that highlight jobs, internships, programs and events, including on-campus networking events that directly align with hiring cycles. From panel discussions with alumni in the field to vetted internships and job postings, students can explore myriad opportunities.

Students recognize the benefit. “We are afforded direct access to resources that have been scouted and endorsed by Career Communities leaders,” Lauren Sullivan ’23 says. The economics and psychology double-major from Chatham, N.J., found her path through the Law Career Community. “After a year of working with our pre-law adviser, I fully realized my interest in the field. From there, I was able to utilize my Career Community to explore opportunities and land an internship at a law firm.”

Propelling the program’s success is the vast, extended network of the Bucknell community. Parents, alumni and friends of the University consistently look for ways to give students a boost, and Career Communities provide specific, intentional topics for which the CCA can solicit expert opinions, insight and open roles.

Pennsylvania Deputy Attorney General Ben Sirolly ’07 participated in a career panel co-sponsored by the Department of Physics & Astronomy and the STEM Career Community in March 2022. “It helps students gain important perspectives about careers beyond Bucknell,” Sirolly says. “Often, students choose a career path with little or no knowledge about the day-to-day experience. This program will help students better understand their post-college options and broaden their horizons.”

Students aren’t the only ones benefiting from the experience. “Talking with students about their future plans energizes and inspires me,” Sirolly says. “And being back on campus feels like coming home.”

It’s that Bucknellian spirit that propels the final goal of the program. While career direction and effective networking are top priority, Dietrich and her team hope the intentional, connection- focused program fosters a culture of helping others. “Having students find ways to give back to their peers, sharing opportunities or helping to make connections — those are the things that will make this more than a career program.”

Be on the lookout for calls for participation from the CCA — career coaches may be seeking an expert in your field.