When Joe Casavecchia transferred to Arizona State University from a small liberal arts college in Iowa, he wasn't sure if the transition would be easy.
"I do not know what I expected from my transition from a small school to one of the largest in the country, but I am grateful for how well it went," Casavecchia said. "I wanted something bigger with more resources. ASU fit that criteria."
Casavecchia had his sights set on becoming a lawyer. While earning his two degrees in political science and history from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, he capitalized on many opportunities. Casavecchia participated in congressional internships, founded the Pre-Law Society and took courses in the Critical Language Institute, which is part of the Melikian Center: Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies.
“Without the internships, I would have entered law school with a very blurry career path,” Casavecchia said. “I could not have done the internships if the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences wasn’t flexible in the way it allows students to find a path.”
It's exactly this type of path toward discovering and preparing for life after college that the Futures Center will offer students in the college. The center, which will open in the college's newly remodeled home in Armstrong Hall, will facilitate career-focused experiences similar to those Casavecchia formed.
The Futures Center is a partnership between ASU's Office of Career and Professional Development Services and committed alumni and business partners. The goal is to strengthen and deepen the student experience by providing real-world opportunities through internships and other workplace experiences while students pursue their degrees.
"We want to make sure career-readiness is built into the fabric of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences experience. We want to help students in everything, from exploring career possibilities and connecting to mentors to creating skill sets that will allow them to get their dream job," said Cindy Parnell, executive director of ASU's Career and Professional Development Services. "We want students to start on this path from their first day on campus, building their career-ready competencies for their next steps after college."
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences students will be able to experience a wide range of services to prepare them for their post-graduation path, including career workshops, employer information sessions, practice interviews and professional development opportunities. Along with preparing students through internships, the Futures Center will provide dedicated pre-professional advising services for students looking to pursue pre-law, pre-health and educator pathways.
According to William Kavan, senior director of development for the college, the long term vision for the center is to create opportunities with alumni, business and community partners for more personalized student guidance, including job shadowing and mentoring.
"By working with our dedicated alumni and community partners, our students will have the opportunity to create meaningful professional and educational networks," Kavan said. "Our alumni have been involved since the beginning stages of planning the Futures Center to ensure students are ready for life after graduation."
This type of support — preparing liberal arts and sciences students for the next phase of their life in a personalized atmosphere — is designed to help change the belief among employers that graduates aren't prepared to enter the workforce.
Jon Hunter, an ASU alumnus and senior vice president of worldwide strategic sales at BMC Software, believes both students and companies stand to benefit from developing internship programs earlier in students’ educational careers and by better aligning the goals of companies to the goals of today’s undergraduates.
"Developing the next generation of global leaders is key. The Futures Center will allow people like me to teach and mentor students to help them learn how we built our careers," Hunter said. "It will also help businesses adapt to young employees' strengths, creating a more seamless integration into the business world."
One-on-one mentoring, advising and internship preparedness will enhance the student experience and prepare them for life after college, Parnell said. The Futures Center programming is designed to complement what students learn in the classroom and give them targeted, customized advice and action plans relevant to their journey.
The centralized resource at the college level means more students like Casavecchia will benefit from personalized support and assistance in finding internships, preparing for graduate school and starting careers.
"My lasting impression of Arizona State University is that you can make a big school feel small if you’re willing to find your niche," Casavecchia said.
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