Career Development Center overhauls counseling program


The Career Development Center (CDC) has recently undergone an overhaul of its programs to better serve the Stanford community through its Vision 2020 program.

Under this plan, the CDC has established three different areas of counseling, and each one focuses on developing relationships with specific groups, such as communities on campus, employers and alumni.

The CDC has also hired two new career counselors. With increased staff, the CDC is aiming to create a more specialized system of counseling for students.

New career counselors

The two new career counselors, Kathleen Cassidy and Arne Bakker, are both Assistant Directors (AD) of Career Communities. Cassidy specifically works with Ph.D.s and postdoctoral students in the social sciences, interdisciplinary programs and education, while Bakker focuses on Ph.D.s and postdocs in the natural sciences.

Both ADs are part of a team of career counselors, each of whom focuses on a particular set of disciplines and a particular type of student.

Cassidy explains that her role as Assistant Director of Career Communities is twofold. The first role is to assist Ph.D.s and postdocs in the social sciences and education and help them explore their options within and outside academia.

To assist those students, she will be offering appointments, developing resources and holding meet-ups, which are informal career discussions that allow students to learn about career opportunities and also learn from one another.

The second part of her job involves helping build a career community for graduate students by developing relationships with the faculty, alumni and employers.

“Really, career success is not just dependent on an individual student’s best efforts or preparation,” Cassidy said. “It’s also the result of a student making meaningful relationships with people throughout their career.”

Bakker reiterated the benefit of career communities.

“We are looking to build that community so people can tell us what they really want and we can provide it,” Bakker said.

After establishing relationships with the departments in the natural sciences, Bakker noted that he was able to structure his meet-ups and other events to address the specific needs of the students and faculty members he was working with.

CDC Vision 2020

Laura Dominguez Chan, who has been an Assistant Director and career counselor at Stanford for more than 20 years, explained that the idea of career communities came out of the Vision 2020 meetings. It has also reshaped the way the CDC thinks about counseling.

“Two years ago, students were coming to us,” Chan said. “And now we’re looking to go to them.”

In the past, CDC was organized by industry instead of academic discipline.

“While that model was fine, I think this [new model] is much more effective in terms of reaching students and the faculty,” Chan said.

Contact Riya Mehta at riyam ‘at stanford ‘dot’ edu

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