Stevenson has always looked for ways to provide its students with a competitive edge in their career paths, and now, the university has introduced five professional minors specifically created to do so. These new minors—Applied Management, Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development, Human Resources, Real Estate, and Software Design and Coding—were conceived to expand students’ career options and offer an opportunity to shape their education to meet their specific career goals.
PROFESSIONAL VS. TRADITIONAL MINORS
Both discipline and professional minors give students the opportunity to learn outside of their field and tailor their education to their own specific interests, but they differ in their primary focus. Where traditional, discipline-specific minors such as English, economics, or music give a student a more in-depth education in an academic field relevant to their major or their personal interests, the new professional minors focus on introducing students to in-demand professions and industries when coupled with their major, provide them with additional career options after graduation.
Each professional minor consists of four courses designed to teach foundational knowledge related to a discipline or industry. The courses will be supplemented by programming hosted by the Office of Career Services. “This new, career-centered credential is another example of how Stevenson helps its students stand out in a competitive job market,” says Bridget Brennan, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs. “Adding a solid knowledge base and workforce experience in one of these industries to the skills and career preparation they gain in their major will give students the versatile skills employers want and open up new career paths for them.”
The professional minors will officially launch in fall 2018 but the program is being embraced by faculty in different programs across campus. Students have already begun declaring professional minors, and Student Success Coaches, Academic Advisors, and Career Services staff are positioned to help students decide whether they might benefit from declaring a professional minor.
HOW: Provides a foundation in business management through the study of management fundamentals, employee relations, and organizational leadership.
WHY: “An Applied Management professional minor pairs well with any School of the Sciences major,” says Meredith Durmowicz, Dean of the Fine School of the Sciences. “For instance, a science major who pursues an advanced degree in a medical field would use skills from an Applied Management professional minor in setting up and managing their own medical practice. An Applied Management professional minor can also help science majors who intend to pursue a career in industry by giving them a strong foundation for leadership and management positions.”
ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
HOW: Prepares students to understand the skills and commitment required to start a new venture or build a small business; to organize and write a complete business
plan that can be used to start a new business and apply for venture capital; and to set appropriate marketing objectives for small business growth.
WHY: “As a graphic designer, I will likely experience freelancing at some point in my career, and might even choose to begin my own photography/freelance design career one day,” says Hailey Guit, Graphic Design ’20. “This minor offered me a chance to learn about how to manage and be successful in any business endeavors.”
HOW: Provides a foundation for careers in the human resources industry through the study of workforce development, compensation and planning, and employee relations.
WHY: Jeffrey D. Elliott, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Department Chair, says “A minor in Human Resources may be attractive to Psychology majors who want to apply their skills in a workplace or business setting rather than in a clinical or research setting. The minor can help to make them competitive for an entry-level position in HR, where they might focus on recruitment and training of employees or on employee relations.”
HOW: Provides instruction in the basics of the commercial real estate industry and offers core skills for entry-level work in the fields of commercial real estate and development.
WHY: “There are many job opportunities for paralegals and lawyers in the real estate field,” says Hilary Michaud, Chair and Professor of Law and Justice Studies. “While they could work for law firms, they could also work for title companies, real estate brokerage firms, estate-specific types of employers, and more.”
SOFTWARE DESIGN AND CODING
HOW: Provides a foundation in information systems to prepare students to perform industry- specific IT tasks in the workplace through the study of programming and technology infrastructures.
WHY: Laura Smith, Chair and Associate Professor of English Language and Literature says, “Tech companies need people with those classic English skills in storytelling, communication, and complex thinking. At the same time, English majors who want writing careers will be increasingly writing in digital spaces. They need to graduate with the ability to understand and navigate digital platforms, including coding, information architecture, and design.”
A CONNECTION TO CAREER
Sue Gordon, Vice President of Career Services, is quick to note that the professional minors aren’t just about classes—they’re suffused with career experiences. “There are three elements to the career-related aspect of the professional minors,” she says. “There will be sponsored internships developed specifically for the minor. For example, a real estate minor will have an internship at an agency. There also will be panels with professionals who are working in the industry related to the minor. And finally, with employer site visits, students would travel to a business to learn about the industry, how the company recruits, and what skills truly apply to that field.”
The panels will begin this fall, she says, with internships and site visits beginning in fall 2019. Gordon also notes that she would embrace the opportunity to partner with Stevenson alumni working in any of the fields related to the new professional minors on sponsored internships and panels.
Overall, the new professional minors are yet another example of Stevenson’s goal of connecting students to careers both in and out of the classroom. “The professional minors allow students to customize their experience at Stevenson to reflect their unique skills, interests, and career goals. They also provide students with additional possibilities in response to the important question, ‘What do I want to do when I graduate?’ ” Brennan says.