Program Spotlight: The Office of Career and Professional Development The Office of Career and Professional Development (CPD) supports and empowers W&L students and alumni to discover, navigate and achieve their career and professional goals.
The Office of Career and Professional Development (CPD) supports and empowers W&L students and alumni to discover, navigate and achieve their career and professional goals through hands-on advising and tailored resources, programs and events. The CPD team seeks to engage with students and alumni individually to explore their interests, abilities and passions, equip them with the skills and tools needed to achieve career success, and develop the confidence to pursue their goals.
“We strive to get to know each student on an individual basis as early in their time at W&L as possible – building that relationship is core to what we do in CPD,” said John Jensen III ’01, Dean of Career and Professional Development.
During their first year at W&L, students are assigned a Career Advisor and have the opportunity to meet to discuss their career and professional interests and plans one-on-one. Career Advisors have focus areas, such as finance, government, law, consulting, healthcare and marketing, for industry-specific support, and can also help undecided students explore and navigate different career paths and post-graduate options.
Jensen was appointed Dean of Career and Professional Development at W&L in January 2014. In this role, he leads his team of Career Advisors and staff in coordinating a variety of student-centered initiatives encompassing career exploration, professional development, internships, alumni outreach, networking, and post-graduate career planning.
In addition to individual advising, CPD offers programs, events and resources geared toward both career exploration and professional development. This academic year, CPD hosted the Foundations of Career Development series, which covered topics such as resumes and cover letters, developing your personal story, networking, interviewing and succeeding on the job. Students have also had the opportunity to join several new Careers in introductory industry overview programs, and hear directly from alumni during the industry-focused Career Series events. CPD partners in the classroom as well, collaborating with faculty on courses that incorporate career development into the academic experience as early as students’ first year with FYE 100: General Success.
“We like to meet with students early and often once they arrive at W&L. Each student here has a unique combination of academic and career interests, skills and experience. CPD meets them wherever they are in the process – there is no one-size-fits-all career plan here,” Jensen said. That’s where the relationship building comes in. Jensen recently emailed every student in the first-year class to connect and introduce them to the resources CPD has to offer. “I enjoy the opportunity to answer those first questions and help students start thinking about their ‘story’ – who they are and what makes them tick.”
With the COVID-19-related challenges of the past year, the CPD team has worked tirelessly to support students as plans inevitably changed course and to pivot historically in-person events and programs to a virtual format to continue to provide students with opportunities to learn about career paths and connect with W&L alumni.
“One key positive of the virtual format is that we have been able to engage alumni who previously may not have been able to travel back to campus for an event or host students on a career trip in their city,” Jensen said. “W&L’s dedicated alumni network is one of the best sources of knowledge, advice, inspiration and support for our students, and the pandemic presented a unique opportunity to tap into the network even more broadly this year with more than 100 alumni participating in CPD events and programs.”
With graduation right around the corner, the Office of Career and Professional Development is especially focused on supporting the Class of 2021 with their post-graduate plans and transition during another challenging graduation year. “The Class of 2020 was incredibly resilient, with 91% of graduates employed or attending graduate school within six months of graduation – only slightly down from typical years despite the unprecedented economic environment this time last year,” Jensen said. “We are optimistic about the success of the Class of 2021 and excited to see where life after W&L takes them.”
Jensen graduated from W&L with a history major in 2001. After graduation, he worked at Bank of America Merrill Lynch for 10 years in London and New York as a sales-trader covering European and Canadian institutions. He returned to his alma mater in December of 2011 to serve as Assistant Dean in the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics before moving to his current role.
An active alumnus, Jensen served as vice president of the New York City alumni chapter, chaired the New York City Fancy Dress committee, and volunteered for the Alumni Admissions Program in London and New York. He was a class agent for five years, co-chaired his class’s 10th reunion committee, and is currently serving on his class’s 20th reunion committee. John and his wife, Lauren Stearns Jensen ‘02, have two children and reside in Lexington.
Additional information for parents and families about the Office of Career and Professional Development is available on the CPD website. Parents can also follow along on Instagram @wlucareers to stay up-to-date on upcoming events and programs.