Three staff members of St. Mary’s College of Maryland’s Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) have been honored with the Excellence in Program Development & Innovation Award from the Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers (EACE). The award recognizes the trio for their work on the Professional Pathways (CORE-P) program, which guides students towards career paths that suit them best.
Michael Dunn, the Professional Pathways Director, along with Julianne Petrilla and Meghan Druzgala, the coordinators of the program’s first year professional pathways and externship courses, respectively, will receive the 2023 award. The EACE annually honors outstanding program development that serves as a model program for others in the field to replicate.
Professional Pathways is a key part of the College’s Learning through Experiential and Applied Discovery (LEAD) curriculum. This sequence of career-readiness courses is mandatory for all new students and is designed and implemented by the CCPD staff. The program was recommended by the associations’ Leadership & Recognition Committee and voted on by the Board of Directors.
CORE-P began as a pilot program in fall 2018 and has since grown to include three different courses. First-year students enroll in two introductory one-credit courses where they explore their strengths and interests, learn basic professional writing and interview skills, participate in networking events, develop a career exploration plan, and discover the National Association of Colleges & Employers (NACE) career readiness competencies.
In their sophomore or junior year, students take a two-credit Honors College externship course taught by a subject matter expert about a particular career field. These unique courses include classroom activities, lessons focused on NACE competencies, and hands-on experiences outside of class, so that students are well-prepared for an internship in a specific area. Subject matter experts who teach the Honors College externship courses are drawn from industry, alumni communities, and other networks.
In an email from the EACE, CCPD staff learned that the program was recommended by the associations’ Leadership & Recognition Committee and voted on by the Board of Directors. The award will be presented during an EACE awards luncheon in June.
The award underscores the importance of professional development programs in helping students determine their career paths. Through the CCPD’s innovative program, St. Mary’s College of Maryland is preparing students to enter the workforce with the necessary skills and competencies to succeed. As students continue to grapple with the economic effects of the pandemic, professional development programs have become even more important in equipping them with the tools they need to thrive in a competitive job market.