Christendom students undertake a broad and rigorous course of studies over their four years on campus, delving deeply into the most important questions, studying the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. And although studying the liberal arts is intended for its own sake, and not for the practicalities of finding a career, studies have shown that a broad-based liberal arts education does indeed offer its graduates some very practical skills and career-related benefits, leading to long-term success.
According to recent surveys commissioned by AAC&U as part of its ongoing Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative, employers overwhelmingly endorse broad learning and cross-cutting skills as the best preparation for long-term career success. The soft skills they rate as most important for career success are oral communication, critical thinking, ethical judgment, working effectively in teams, written communication, and the real-world application of skills and knowledge—all skills learned through the liberal arts educational experience provided at Christendom.
Christendom students are better prepared and more confident than most students from other institutions of higher learning for a number of reasons. First, the rigorous liberal arts academic program, with an emphasis on reading, writing, communication, and critical thinking skills, gives the students a tremendous edge in life, since these are among the most valuable workplace skills. Secondly, through an emphasis on virtue and professionalism, Christendom students are better able to find success in corporate cultures, and act with integrity and dedication. Third, the college requires all students receive career development educational courses (Education for Life) to ensure that they receive crucial career-related information and insights, offering a plethora of workshops, one-on-one meetings, and mentoring experiences along the way.
The most popular of these mentoring experiences is called “Life on Tap,” which over the past five years has brought over 70 alumni to campus to serve as mentors to the students and give them insights into life post-Christendom College.
This story originally appeared in Instaurare – the Christendom College magazine. Subscribe today!
Based on findings from multiple surveys and research projects, alumni mentoring is quickly becoming a critical component of a student’s educational experience, and a key to driving long-term success for alumni. Because of this, the college has invited alumni who work in the areas of business, medicine, law, military, event planning, music, media, IT, journalism, entrepreneurship, architecture, construction, sales, real estate, counseling, finance, accounting, marketing, social media, and education to volunteer their time and talents to be of service to the current students as mentors.
“I was able to share my experiences and knowledge of the software development industry with the students—who were very respectful and attentive—and it felt good to be able to provide some insight into a career that many of them were probably not considering and barely understood,” says Bennett Ellis ’92, owner of Slice, LLC, a software development company. “I was surprised at the insightful questions the students asked and it seemed that they genuinely learned from and appreciated the content and that for some it opened a door to a career they thought might be more difficult or unattainable.”
And students are excited by what they are hearing at these events.
“Going to the ‘Life on Tap’ event on teaching was pivotal for my career development,” says senior Theresa Crnkovich. “I had several questions about life as a teacher and wanted to confirm or change expectations that I had. At the event, I was impressed by the alumnae who gave testimony of their experience as teachers. One moment especially stood out for me when a young alumna looked around at the group of us undergraduate students and said: ‘I want you all to think of that teacher you had who made you love a subject and changed your life.’ After a brief pause she then continued, ‘Now I want you to think of that teacher who made you hate a subject. Don’t be that teacher. Being a teacher is not just something that people fall back upon if they have no other option. Being a teacher is a calling.’ This was the exact encouragement I needed at the time and I have since then held fast to my conviction and desire to teach after school.”
In addition to these “Life on Tap” events, the college has published an Alumni Mentor Booklet, and provides it to all current students and prospective students who request it. The booklet contains the names, headshots, emails, college major, and current job title of 60 successful alumni in the fields of law, architecture, law enforcement, public policy, education, business, sales, military, engineering, software development, medicine, IT, finance, accounting, communications, editorial, fundraising, and more.
Career development director Kristin Stephens sees Christendom’s approach to its students as transformative and innovative.
“Since joining the college’s team of committed staff in 2018, I have been wonderfully surprised at the high level of attention the students receive here, compared to the previous institutions of higher learning at which I worked,” she remarks. “Last year, among all of the many meetings I had with students, I was able to meet with 85% of the graduating seniors and give them valuable advice and insights to help them launch into their desired careers. It was so nice to be able to give this type of personalized attention to our students at that critical time in their lives.”
Through the college’s Education for Life, the alumni mentoring program, and the individualized attention given by Stephens, students have more confidence than ever to enter a myriad of fields and to strive for excellence and achieve success as they work to restore all things in Christ.
Christendom students are actually more confident to meet the demands of the work world and to make the transition from college than the average college student, according to a 2019 exit survey. Nearly 70% of Christendom’s Class of 2019 agreed that they were well-prepared to go into their chosen field of work (compared to 40% nationally), while 93% thought that they had the ability to solve complex problems (43% nationally). In regard to job-seeking skills, 89% were confident in their resume writing and interviewing abilities (37% and 35% nationally, respectively).
“The career development offerings at Christendom College are top-notch, and serve as valuable resources for post-grad life,” says Jacob DeVos ’18, who works in the field of marketing and operations. “I found the Education for Life classes particularly helpful and still use the skills I learned to this day. From fine-tuning one’s resume and writing a job-specific cover letter, to preparing for an interview – these skills assist us in helping employers understand the value of a liberal arts education. After Christendom, I attended business school, which was highly focused on job training and career development. Thanks to Education for Life, I found myself way ahead of the curve when it came to applying for jobs, whether it was for an internship or full-time position. I can say with confidence that the skills I gained through career development at Christendom have helped to further my career, and the careers of many others.”