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From the Dean

Helping Students onto the Career Ladder

Story by
Robert Stacey, Dean

Graduates of the University of Washington College of Arts and Sciences go on to an extraordinary variety of careers. In this issue of Perspectives alone, you will meet a winemaker; a stand-up comedian; an organizer of humanitarian medical missions; a spokesperson for a foundation representing a new, online monetary unit; and the cofounder of an improvisational theater troupe. And yet among the thousands of courses we teach every year, we don’t offer a single one that would prepare a student directly to enter any one of these careers.

Bob Stacey, Dean of Arts and Sciences
Bob Stacey. Photo by Jacob Lambert.

Does that mean that their Arts and Sciences education failed to prepare these alumni for their careers? Not at all. The combination of breadth and depth that is the hallmark of an Arts and Sciences education is an essential foundation for all graduates, whatever field they pursue. In the words of W.E.B. DuBois, we take pride in educating our students both to make a living and to make a life. Our graduates do both with remarkable success.

Yet since the great recession of 2008, our students have faced a particularly challenging labor market. For many, the experience of looking for a first job has been Kafka-esque: they can’t get a job without experience; but they can’t get experience without a job. We need to do more to help our students get their feet on the first rung of the career ladder.

To this end, the College will be piloting three new programs, all voluntary, to ease the transition from the UW to employment. They are open to our students regardless of major, to enable them to make this transition with confidence and success.

The first program is a partnership with KORU, a Seattle-based company dedicated to helping students and recent graduates bridge the gap between college and career. Until now, KORU’s focus has been intensive, month-long immersion programs designed to provide graduates of elite liberal arts colleges with the kind of practical, hands-on experience that will prepare them for jobs in high-growth companies. Our program will be a little different. We will offer a two-week version of the KORU curriculum this summer to 600 Arts and Sciences students in the middle of their UW education. Our goal is to introduce them to the skills and attributes that employers are seeking, and to do so early enough in their UW careers that they can use this knowledge to shape their educational choices before they graduate. We want them to recognize that, regardless of major, they can increase the value of their education by starting to prepare now for the world of employment.

The College will be piloting three new programs, all voluntary, to ease the transition from the UW to employment.

To complement our program with KORU, we are partnering with Projected Talent, a start-up company founded by a professor in the Foster School of Business. Projected Talent matches local companies offering short-term, paid internships with students who are seeking such internships as a way to learn about career opportunities and to acquire practical business experience.  This program will be open to all Arts and Sciences students, and will be an ideal second step for those who have already participated in our KORU program.

Finally, in partnership with the University of Washington Alumni Association, we are developing a mentorship program that will pair UW graduates with current students seeking a mentor to help guide them as they prepare to enter the world of work. 

The KORU and Projected Talent programs will begin this summer.  We hope to roll out the mentorship program in about a year.  Together, we believe these three programs will be of significant help to our students as they take the strengths of their Arts and Sciences educations out into the world.

Further information will be appearing over the next few months.  If you are a current or prospective UW student or parent, or you know one, I hope you will share information about these opportunities.  We really do think they are going to make a difference.

Robert Stacey
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences