September 29, 2017

What happens when C21, the Career & Internship Center, and departmental advisors combine forces? They launch a project-based Career Lab for undergraduates, where individualized and group feedback from staff, alumni, and employers is the norm. As one student put it, the Career Lab provided opportunities to "practice things in a space where stakes were low and it was okay to mess up."

During Winter Quarter, 2017, forty six students across 20 different majors in the College of Arts & Sciences participated in the Career Lab--ranging from Art to Economics to Biology. Because the Lab offered a college-level perspective, students were able to see the many commonalities among their peers in the arts, social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities. This helped to disrupt the narrative that one's major defines his/her career path. It also encouraged students to translate their own unique experiences into compelling stories to set themselves apart when applying for jobs.

At the completion of the quarter, students left with a professional toolkit and new sense of confidence. One student said, "I now know how to present myself to an employer, especially how to demonstrate my enthusiasm and fit for a position." Students gained firsthand experience working on projects in diverse teams, developing and delivering business presentations to career professionals. Each student also created tailored resumes and cover letters, elevator pitches, interview stories, and LinkedIn profiles. Further, they honed their networking and interviewing skills, gaining practice through a variety of interactions with UW A&S alumni and professionals from high-growth Seattle companies--including Microsoft, Starbucks, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among others. "The alumni and other professionals were all so encouraging; it made me feel like I could get a job like them too."