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CAS course aims to help students recognize skills

By Chelsea Liebenthal
On November 8, 2012

A new course offered by the College and Arts and Sciences will give students the opportunity to discover the many diverse directions their degrees can take them.

CAS 301 is a one-credit hour class that will be offered for the first time this upcoming spring semester. It will aim to help students recognize how to use the skills they have acquired towards establishing goals and obtaining jobs.

Associate Dean Chris Makaroff will co-teach the course alongside Dean Phyllis Callahan. Makaroff said he noticed students weren't fully grasping the value of the education they were getting and wanted to work with them to better understand the benefits of their degrees.

"It became clear that a lot of humanities and social sciences students didn't understand and couldn't articulate all the assets they had that were desirable by companies," Makaroff said. "They had developed critical thinking, communication and leadership skills but didn't seem to know how they could apply those to careers in business, government and nonprofits."

In collaboration with the Arts and Sciences alumni board, Makaroff and Callahan developed this course to show students the strengths of their degree and how those strengths can be used to explore different career paths.

"It's not like you'll be learning new math or Spanish skills," Makaroff said. "You will learn about leadership traits, how you can apply your skills, how to interview, how to polish your resume and how career services can help you find jobs."

For students in the College of Arts and Sciences, it's not always clear-cut the kind of career that corresponds to the degree. C. Lee Harrington, professor of Sociology and Gerontology, said she believes this course will help students better hone in on their talents and market themselves to companies based on these abilities.

"It will help them be clear about what skills they have learned and how to use them," Harrington said. "It's not like engineering or business where it's pretty much decided what career you'll have, it's harder for geology and philosophy students to know exactly what they'll do."

Junior Brenton Richardson, a social justice studies student, is one of the 19 students registered for the course so far, and said he looks forward to discovering his possible future career path.

"I'm taking it because it's a convenient way to explore career possibilities, which is something I should be doing at this point in my life," Richardson said. "Plus it's only one day a week for 50 minutes which is nice."

The first time course will offer 25 seats and will include some reading assignments but mostly experience with alumni in careers in business, government and the non-profit sector. If this section of CAS 301 is successful, one section of the course will be offered each semester to follow, according to Makaroff.

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