Career services at Brown previously were provided through CareerLAB (the Center for Careers and Life after Brown). Its relaunch as the new Center for Career Exploration follows two years of research and development spearheaded by the President’s Working Group on Career Services. The model for transforming the way Brown provides career preparation and support grew from aligning Brown’s academic strengths and the University’s focus on intellectual exploration, community engagement and hands-on learning.
When its expansion is complete, the new center will offer advising, opportunities and resources for career pathways in five areas: technology and tech ventures, finance and consulting, arts and media, science and engineering, and careers in the common good — including nonprofit, government, education, policy and climate change sectors. This is in addition to existing pre-professional advising for careers in health and medicine and law.
Matthew Donato, executive director of the Center for Career Exploration and associate dean of the College, said the center marks a shift from approaching career services as generalists, to instead launching knowledge bases around specific industry sectors and professional areas so students can engage in a cycle of exploration.
“Exploration is a critical activity that students undertake as part of their Brown education — not as something in addition to academics, but as something integral to the student experience,” Donato said. “Through more internships, research opportunities and shadowing experiences, we can help students prototype career possibilities for themselves. We want students to be able to try lots of things out, test their assumptions, reflect on those experiences, and think about whether an experience has changed their interests.”
To support students in exploring the new industry pathways, the center will include four teams of staff: a professional pathways team, a career counseling team, a student exploration team, and a mentor and partner engagement team. As part of an in-progress expansion that will double the size of the Center for Career Exploration team, the center will add more than a dozen new staff members — including five new assistant deans to oversee each of the career pathways.
Preparation for a lifetime
The Center for Career Exploration builds on an approach to career exploration rooted in helping students chart their own course and develop skills to successfully navigate a lifetime of changing career opportunities, said Dean of the College Rashid Zia.
“Students make choices at Brown about the courses they take, the concentrations they pursue and the activities in which they engage, both during and between semesters,” Zia said. “Just as we have a system in place for students to explore course options, speak with advisers and meet with peers about concentrations, it’s equally important for students to engage with others about careers and their lives after Brown.”
The center’s expansion is being funded with the generous support of donors through the BrownTogether campaign, the most ambitious fundraising effort in Brown’s history. The goal is to ensure the center can offer more services to larger numbers of students.
“The idea is that career exploration can begin on the first day that a student arrives at Brown,” Zia said. “We’re investing in these significant resources so that each and every student is supported in career exploration throughout their time at Brown with both mentoring and opportunities to truly test out and pilot multiple future pathways and learn about what is possible.”