By 2024, LAS students will be required to take career preparation course


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Iowa State’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

A new required career preparation course will prepare Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) students for life after graduation.

LAS 203, a professional career preparation course, will be implemented by 2024. According to Elizabeth Hergert, a career services specialist, the course will provide an overview of practical skills within a professional setting, such as writing resumes and cover letters, salary negotiation, interviewing, evaluating offers, professional etiquette and networking.

Hergert said the class explores resources and tools to help students determine what they want to do after college and what job they might seek. She said the course lasts eight weeks, is offered in person and online, and is open to the sophomore class and above.

Hegert said she believes the course will be very helpful for students, especially those in their sophomore year when she hopes students will take it.

“It is a really fabulous course I think, especially for students,” Hergert said. “Their sophomore year is when we would ideally like them to take it. We walk them through all those stages that are so important for figuring out what you want to do after you graduate.”

Hergert said the course will guide students on understanding their values and what skills they can provide a potential employer with. Mid-semester students will build resumes, cover letters and work on interviewing skills, one of the most important aspects of finding a job, according to Hergert.

“I really love helping students with interview preparation,” Hergert said. “It’s so fun to help students articulate their strengths and learn the strategy behind interviewing.”

Hergert said LAS Career Services has worked closely with Iowa State to provide undergraduates, graduate students and alumni with career education services for many years. She added that this makes it easier for people like Hergert to fix and improve any issues that may arise within the curriculum.

“Hopefully, we can kind of work out those kinks and make it a great class for everyone,” Hergert said.

Tessa Brow, director of LAS Career Services and the instructor for the course in the fall 2023 semester, said that she first discussed the potential course requirement with academic advisors to discuss the possible drawbacks that could come from students about the requirement.

“The concerns that I’ve heard from students about it becoming a requirement is that people won’t take it seriously, that it’ll be kind of something you have to do like library 160,” Brow said.

Brow said that students should consider the importance of the skills they could gain from the course. She said instructors find new ways to teach and communicate with students about the importance of the course every year.

“The topics covered in the class have remained fairly constant, but how we deliver that, what the assignments are and how we explain things evolves every year,” Brow said.

Brow also said there has been a large amount of work and discussion that has been put into making the course required.

“We’ve been discussing this for five years,” Brow said. “The course was created in 2018 based on student feedback. We would see students saying over and over again that they wish they had been exposed to this type of content.”

Amy Slagell, associate dean for academic programs in LAS, said she spoke with academic advisors to hear their thoughts on how the course would potentially fit into students’ schedules.

“I met with advisors because they work so closely with students and they also are aware of the challenges in some of our majors to meet all of the requirements of their program of study as well as the university and other college requirements,” Slagell said.

While the course is only open to LAS majors, Slagell said she hopes their new course requirement plan will inspire other colleges at Iowa State to make career preparation classes available and required.

“We really hope too that this spills over into additional conversations and more majors,” Slagell said.

Slagell said she believes in higher education and hopes that the course will set up students for a lifetime of opportunities in the present and future.

“I hope that it serves the goal we hope to have for some other things that our Career Services Office does, like ways to get connected with a network or an alum who has a career in a space that you are interested in,” Slagell said.