Between the fall and spring semesters a new program launched to help all first-generation and/or low-income (FGLI) students at Haverford learn about and prepare for their careers. The Chesick/Horizons Winter Break Career Series Pilot, hosted for the first time over Zoom from January 6 to February 10, 2021, was designed to make professional advancement more accessible and less intimidating for students, providing useful advice and better connecting them with the Center for Career and Professional Advising (CCPA).
The John P. Chesick Scholars Program is a program designed to provide leadership opportunities to students whose backgrounds are underrepresented in higher education, while the Horizons Leadership Institute is a similar program for first-generation and/or low-income students. Students from both programs, and, indeed, all FGLI students at Haverford, were invited to participate in the program.
“We began with a list of career-related events for students that were already happening over break, both from the CCPA and other campus offices and from Horizons student leaders, and added in additional staff-led programs, plus collaborated with students to lead some of these programs together,” said Barbara Hall, interim director of the Chesick Scholars Program, and one of the organizers for the program. “It was also an expansion of the previous career series we have offered to Chesick Scholars in recent years. We could offer far more programs and serve many more students than we have in the past because of the partnerships we built, and because we brought students from Horizons and Chesick together.”
Hall directed the program in conjunction with Raquel Esteves-Joyce, interim co-chief diversity officer, and Julian Jackson, Chesick Scholars program coordinator.
The program has been able to expand greatly over the past year due to new additions to Haverford’s staff. Jackson, in particular, became coordinator of the Chesick Scholars in September after working as a graduate assistant in the Office of Academic Resources.
“We were happy to offer the series in deep collaboration with and in strong solidarity with and support of our incredible FGLI student community,” Hall said. “New additions to our team made this task more achievable, and provided us with a greater ability to engage the community.”
The program offered 17 unique events including networking tutorials, discussions about potential international study opportunities, funded-internship information sessions, STEM career fairs, and a resume-building workshop led by experienced student participants of the Chesick Scholars program, and a panel of Horizons students sharing what they’ve learned about the process of seeking and applying for internships, among many others.
“The program was organized as a pilot because we were trying out some innovations; we gathered data to help us think through how to make it even better in the future,” said Hall. “It was successful because we were able to help students use the time between semesters in a productive way, and because we created a Resource Library that included recordings of most of the sessions, so students can continue to draw on them.”
Engagement during the program, as well as feedback from participants after its conclusion, has been overwhelmingly positive. Students particularly found the networking advice from experienced alumni helpful, especially with respect to searching for summer opportunities, a process that takes place largely over winter break.
“I really enjoyed attending the Career Series because I was able to explore career paths that I didn’t have any connection with, learn more about the graduate school process, and network with Haverford alumni,” said Cathy Zhu ‘23. “The best part was definitely being able to chat with alumni who come from the same backgrounds as me because it made me more relieved about my future post-grad, and it gave me the confidence boost I needed this past break!”
45 Fords participated in the series, with many students attending upwards of five sessions to maximize the benefit of the program. Approximately 53% of participants were first-year students, while approximately 26% and 17% were sophomore and junior students. The program was made possible and accessible to all students thanks to the generous contributions of time by alumni, student leaders, and staff directors.