Defiance College launching career program

Staff report

Defiance College, under the guidance of President Dr. Richanne C. Mankey, has created the Institute for Career Readiness and Lifelong Learning.

The new institute houses both the career development office and the nationally-unique program called Jacket Journey. The college’s career development office helps students strengthen their resumes, improve their job interview skills, and find internships, while the new Jacket Journey program actively weaves soft skill education into all aspects of campus life.

Mankey said the institute looks to improve Defiance College’s already impressive 96.8% job placement rate.

“The Jacket Journey program really came about after having a discussion with Beth Wilkerson, a Defiance College graduate working in a position that didn’t even exist 10 years ago,” she said. “Her Defiance College liberal-arts background gave her the soft skills needed to obtain her current position. What a great success story!“

Mankey said the goal became focused on ensuring those skills for every graduate. She said the key to Jacket Journey’s success will be required learning for all Defiance College students. Faculty have begun to alter their teaching methods to promote the inclusion of soft skills into their curriculum.

“Defiance was already doing such a fantastic job of teaching a liberal-arts based education that asking faculty to include the so called ‘soft skills’ was an easy request,” said Dr. Agnes Caldwell, vice president for Academic Affairs. “Defiance College students are heading out into the workforce with career knowledge and now, thanks to our new Jacket Journey program, all of them will be able to articulate why they have the skills to succeed.”

Dr. Jeremy Taylor, the college’s former history professor and assistant football coach, will lead Jacket Journey. “In recent years, there has been an ongoing debate regarding the value of a college degree. Jacket Journey will help settle that question,” he said. “Defiance College graduates will be able to properly articulate their value to employers immediately upon graduation and for the rest of their careers.

Jacket Journey forces students to think about career readiness from orientation to graduation. Defiance College is implementing Jacket Journey, a three-day immersive experience, each January. The conference-type experience will feature various speakers and career workshops. The college has created a Jacket Journey app in which students collect “Jacket Points” for attending and completing various career readiness objectives.

Students have a chance to earn points individually and in groups, with prizes offered to those with the most points, Taylor said. College-conducted face-to-face interviews and focus groups with a wide variety of employers throughout the region showed employers desired career knowledge and people with the soft skills to help solve problems.

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Staff report