Professional Development Activities
As a complement to the broad workforce guidance available from institutional career centers and academic departments, the Environmental-STEM (E-STEM) program provides guidance specific to the E-STEM disciplines. Throughout the program, students develop a diverse E-STEM professional network, learn about the plethora of E-STEM career paths available, build key skills valued by stakeholders, and learn to communicate their professional development using E-STEM language. While the emphasis on professional development is infused in all programmatic aspects of E-STEM, we (the PIs) hosted different professional development activities following the field course. These activities had the following overarching goals:
- Increase students' awareness of and access to a broad group of professionals working in E-STEM fields;
- Facilitate student understanding of potential pathways to future careers using the visiting speakers as role models;
- Provide opportunities for students to read and discuss scientific/technical literature and reports; and
- Assist students in applying for internships, 4YCUs, graduate programs, or jobs through resume, cover letter, and application preparation.
We tested different approaches to our professional development activities each informed by our students' needs and institutional context. These activities were designed for students who had attended the field course, but were open to all students who fulfilled the prerequisites as listed on the individual PD activity pages.
College of the Atlantic: PD Course
Students at the College of the Atlantic participated in a professional development course designed to help them build their professional network while increasing their awareness of the wide array of potential pathways and E-STEM skills. PD activities included searching out internships and entry-level careers as well as developing real or hypothetical CVs, resumes, and cover letters. Additionally, the students gained experience writing research proposals, literature reviews, and scientific papers and in finding a mentor to help them learn a new skill.
University of San Francisco: PD Seminar
Students at the University of San Francisco participated in a professional development seminar in which entry- and mid-level E-STEM professionals provided insights into their careers and career pathways. In addition to regularly meeting with professionals, the students completed a career portfolio in which they documented the various careers they encountered in the seminar. The students also developed real applications including CVs, resumes, and cover letters to positions of interest.
Mt. San Antonio College: PD Workshops
Mt. San Antonio College hosted professional development workshops for all interested students in their STEM Center. Many of the students prioritized finding internships and 4 Year Colleges or Universities to which they were interested in transferring. The workshops supported students through these processes. Faculty members from the Earth and Astronomy, Biology, and Chemistry departments provided feedback on application materials including CVs, resumes, and cover letters while providing students with examples of internships that are accessible to 2YC students.