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ARHU Launches New Career Initiative

April 14, 2020 College of Arts and Humanities

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Integrating curriculum and career readiness, “Be Worldwise. Get Worldready.” prepares students to adapt and thrive in the workplace and in life.

The College of Arts and Humanities (ARHU) at the University of Maryland today announces the launch of a new initiative that focuses on ensuring our students are prepared for life after graduation, whether that means going on the job market or continuing to graduate school. 

Under the moniker “Be Worldwise. Get Worldready.,” the initiative blends new and reimagined course offerings, integrated academic and career advising and access to internships, alumni networking and other opportunities across the region. 

Its focus on highlighting the adaptability of a liberal arts education is especially relevant amidst a period of increased concern about employment and careers in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As ARHU majors, students learn critical thinking, communication, emotional intelligence, collaboration, empathy, problem solving and more — skills that are increasingly in demand. 

“These current circumstances are teaching us the need to be flexible, nimble, anticipate changes in the market and have the foundational skills that enable one to adapt and thrive,” said ARHU dean Bonnie Thornton Dill. “That's why this initiative is so important. These are human relations skills and they are essential to success in the workplace and in life.”  

Audran Downing, the assistant dean for student affairs in ARHU, who leads the initiative, said “Be Worldwise. Get Worldready.” is designed to help students gain essential skills and values through cohesive learning experiences that “integrate professional readiness efforts into the curriculum.” 

“Over the last decade we’ve challenged our students to be ‘worldwise,’ meaning that they understand that knowledge of people, culture and context in the world around them is essential to a well-rounded education and a meaningful life,” Downing said. “Now we’re helping them get ‘worldready,’ so they leave ARHU equipped to be competitive, purposeful and resilient in an ever-changing workplace.”    

Building on a Strong Foundation 

“Be Worldwise. Get Worldready.” expands on programs already in place and allows ARHU to continue to grow its numerous offerings for students to engage with career and professional development. This includes access to networking events, skills workshops, mock interviews and numerous other experiences designed to help ARHU majors succeed in business, medicine, fine and performing arts, communication and more. 

Last year, 97% of ARHU graduates were “placed” six months after graduation, which means they had jobs or were enrolled in graduate school. Of those, 37% reported employment in Maryland, followed by 21% in Washington, D.C. and 12% in New York.

The new initiative is in line with national trends and is being developed in close collaboration with other Big Ten universities, all working to advocate for the opportunities afforded by a liberal arts education. 

To reflect the expansion of the initiative, ARHU’s current Office of Student Affairs will be retitled to the Office of Student Affairs and Career Engagement.

Engaging Faculty: ARHU Curricular Innovations

Under her leadership, Thornton Dill has urged ARHU faculty to assess the ways in which curricula prepare students to understand and articulate how coursework provides the knowledge and skills employers and graduate schools seek. 

Beginning in 2015, the College of Arts and Humanities launched a Strategic Plan committed to focusing more attention on career readiness as integral to students’ academic, in-class experience. That spurred collaborations between ARHU faculty and administrators to focus on designing a holistic learning experience that embodies a career development framework.

The result is an initiative that integrates robust professional development into the ARHU academic experience.  

“This is an exciting challenge,” said Ralph Bauer, associate dean for academic affairs. “Many of our faculty have not been trained to think about career readiness beyond their own profession, but they have been very receptive.” 

For instance, faculty are now requested to include information on syllabi that outlines the ways in which the knowledge students gain in class relates to career readiness. 

A restructured English major offers new tracks designed to help students understand the different fields within the discipline of English studies and how they can be applied. Christina Walter, the director of undergraduate studies in English, said that helps students to specialize and be able to articulate their skills to employers. 

“They aren't just going from class to class, taking each as a separate encounter, but rather are now able to communicate clearly to employers, to friends, to family, what their plan is, what their career pathway is,” Walter said. “We’re pointing out to them that they have built a key set of transferable skills.” 

New curricula and programs also reflect this vision. A new major in philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE) provides opportunities for students interested in careers in law, politics, public policy and more. A minor in arts leadership is designed to help students become leaders in the arts, whether as artists, entrepreneurs or cultural leaders. And a humanities, health and medicine (HHM) minor applies the methods, perspectives and insights of the arts, humanities and social sciences to health and medical education. 

Giuseppe Falvo, associate professor of Italian and the faculty advisor for HHM, said the majority of students enrolling in the new minor are seeking to work as medical professionals.

“They want to add this other dimension, to know more about the world and humanity,” Falvo said. “They know jobs in medicine are not strictly scientific, that they’re a call to behave ethically and have human compassion.” 

Strategic Career Preparation and Regional & Alumni Partnerships 

The initiative also introduces new opportunities for students to engage with alumni, faculty and administrators beyond the classroom. ARHU students have access to a growing number of creative and unique career preparation offerings, including career fairs, workshops and panels. 

Program director Kate Juhl sees hundreds of students each year at the University Career Center @ ARHU and helps them assess skills, values and interests and find opportunities. That means assistance with application materials, interview preparation, networking, salary research and more. She also works with faculty to creatively integrate career development conversations into their courses and organizes mock interviews, alumni mentoring events and other workshops. 

And ARHU students have the unique benefit of proximity to Baltimore and Washington, D.C., two hubs of culture and opportunity. 

The college has relationships with National Geographic, the Washington Nationals, the State Department, the Smithsonian, The Phillips Collection and more, which results in expanded learning opportunities and dozens of internships each year. Students have access to extensive alumni networks through a variety of programs and opportunities. 

It’s this plethora of opportunities that will ensure each ARHU student can write their own story and chart their own path to success.

“Students’ unparalleled experiences in ARHU will help them define what being worldwise and worldready means for their life and will shape the kind of global citizen they can become,” Downing said. 

Students who are interested in accessing more ARHU career readiness resources should visit “Be Worldwise. Get Worldready.”

Graphic designed by Jeanette Nelson.