An innovative new career center launched by the largest college in the University of Wisconsin-Madison celebrated its grand opening with an event that brought together students, alumni, state government representatives, UW System Regents, donors and business leaders.
SuccessWorks helps College of Letters & Science students leverage and apply their skills to the most competitive and exciting jobs after graduation, UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank told a packed room at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on February 7.
“This space is going to transform how we prepare liberal arts students for careers and bring us that much closer to our goal of integrating career readiness into students’ experiences while they are here on campus,” she said.
The event celebrated SuccessWorks as the signature achievement of the college’s innovative and integrated approach to preparing students for successful careers after graduation.
Set within a modern space on the third floor of the University Book Store on Library Mall, SuccessWorks is a hub for personal and professional development. Students from any of the college’s 62 undergraduate majors — and at any point in their university experience — can come here to explore and build connections between academics, personal interests and professional skills.
Students can stop by to meet with an advisor, get help polishing their resume, attend a mock interview, pop into a photo booth for a headshot, pick up a professional interview outfit, network with L&S alumni and interview for internships and jobs, either in person or remotely via videoconferencing.
SuccessWorks also serves students through eight Career Communities, clusters of popular occupations, such as healthcare, government, communication and entrepreneurship, that connect students with advisors, alumni, internships and jobs specific to their area of interest. Career Communities also offer students hands-on experiences that help them explore and try out the day-to-day work of these occupations.
“SuccessWorks offers L&S students the kind of career preparation that, until now, has been the exclusive domain of small liberal arts colleges and Ivy League universities, says Rebekah Pryor Paré, Associate Dean and SuccessWorks Executive Director. “Within large, public research universities, SuccessWorks represents a first-of-its-kind approach to putting students on a path to success after graduation.”
In 2014, Dean John Karl Scholz launched the L&S Career Initiative to transform career preparation in his college. He understood that while L&S students gain a breadth and depth of knowledge during their time at the university, many were unclear about how to channel their academic prowess and interests into careers. SuccessWorks helps students articulate their experiences and the value of a liberal arts education to potential employers.
With the opening of SuccessWorks, the college is on its way toward its goal of becoming the number-one, go-to source for employer talent acquisition in the Midwest, and nationwide.
“Students majoring in physics, philosophy, psychology or more than 50 other areas in the College of Letters & Science learn to think and create, communicate clearly and understand the world from many points of view,” says Scholz. “Employers in Wisconsin and from around the world recognize the value of the education we provide and the students we have the privilege of working with.”
This space is going to transform how we prepare liberal arts students for careers and bring us that much closer to our goal of integrating career readiness into students’ experiences while they are here on campus.
SuccessWorks’ doors are open to employer partners who can access 16,000 L&S students who are eager for real-world work experience. American Family Insurance, for instance, is the college’s longest and most dedicated partner. The company employs more than 500 UW-Madison grads, and nearly half hail from the College of Letters & Science.
“At American Family Insurance, we believe with the right support, any dream is possible,” says Dan Kelly, American Family Insurance chief financial officer. “We value our strong partnership with UW-Madison, including SuccessWorks and the Career Initiative, because their team is committed to helping students pursue their educational and career goals by providing the guidance and resources needed to realize those dreams. We look forward to continuing our successful partnership and seeing what SuccessWorks and the Career Initiative will achieve through their support of College of Letters & Science students.
Since opening its new space to students this fall, SuccessWorks has already marked some major achievements. In the first eight weeks of the fall semester, the center hosted three times as many on-campus interviews than in the entire previous academic year. Career and internship advising has also increased 18 percent.
Other universities have taken note of the college’s efforts. Major public institutions that have visited or consulted with L&S to learn about implementing similar models for career development include Ohio State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, the University of Illinois, Rutgers University, the University of Florida and the University of New Hampshire.
And perhaps most importantly, students have already felt the impact of SuccessWorks.
“When I first found SuccessWorks, it felt like fate,” says Giselle Blocker, who will graduate in May with a degree in history. “I had been looking for career services to help me break into the business world. Finally I had access to resources geared toward L&S students like me. I’m happy to say that SuccessWorks helped me successfully land my dream job at a global consulting firm.”