Making Career Services a Point of Difference

by Colleen Johnson

Pathways: A Four Year Career Development Program

Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS) believes that there is a direct relationship between how well students follow a specific, four-year career development plan and their ability to secure professional objectives upon graduation. This fall 2004, HWS implemented the Pathways program, to help students create, follow and mark progress throughout their college careers and prepare for their professional endeavors. The program is used to encourage and motivate students to explore, execute and experience all of their academic, personal and career-related interests. The fall pilot launched 70 students from Pre-law, Health-related majors, and the Summer Academic Orientation Program (SAOP).

What sets Pathways apart is that it is an active four-year program which features a support network dedicated to sustaining students' growth and success. This program motivates and keeps students on track in gaining knowledge and experience through Career Services workshops, experiential learning, career counseling, job shadowing and on-the-job experiences (internships and student employment).

The Pathways program is active because we personalize each student's career development process using a planning worksheet. The worksheet provides students with a 4-year career development timeline, outlining the necessary steps to prepare them for the "real world." These steps might include activities to help students identify their interests, values, and abilities and/or explore career options using appropriate resources, strategies, and experiential opportunities.

As students move through the process, Career Services staff fill out the Pathways worksheet with specific actions to be completed in between appointments, relevant to the student's interests and movement through the career development process. For example, action steps identified after the initial meeting might include:




A copy of the worksheet is then given to the students and the original is kept on file with the staff in Career Services. If for instance the Internship Coordinator is going to be meeting with the student in the future, the Career Counselor will add these same action notes into the e-recruiting database which can track student appointments and notes. We are still in the process of finding the most effective way to share counseling notes and the Pathways worksheet with faculty.

Pathways surrounds students with people dedicated to helping them gain knowledge, grow as individuals and succeed in their path(s) of interest. This results in collaboration between students and members of our campus and extended communities. Students have a variety of resources and support systems which include:
HWS Career Services Staff:






Trained Student Mentors for 1st and 2nd year Students:



Alumni/ae Mentors:



HWS Faculty Advisers:




Parents/Family Members:



In December of 2004, students completed a midpoint student mentor/mentee evaluation which warranted positive comments such as:


Colleen Johnson, M.S.has her master's degree in Human Resource Development from Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY and bachelor's degree in Psychology from St. Bonaventure University in Olean, NY. She is the Career Counselor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She can be reached at

The Hobart and William Smith Colleges Career Center
Pathways Program information
Pathways Brochure (pdf)

[Editor's Note: sorry, these links are no longer working.]

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