Some of our students are nervous right now, even anxious. Others are very happy. It’s the time when seniors are wondering what they will do next year. If this is the first they have thought about it, they are a bit late. But it is also understandable. For many this is the first time they will strike out on their own, whether they are finishing undergraduate or graduate studies.
Others have already found positions, and will start work when the semester concludes. One student I spoke to last week has an accounting job with a big firm in San Jose. A number of our accounting students going back many years have traveled the same path. We would like them to stay in the Valley, of course, but many will come back. The Career Services Center will host a “networking luncheon” on April 5. Area employers will join us on the main campus to meet students, both those graduating and those who still have a ways to go. This is an opportune time for students to make connections, find internships (sometimes a necessary step in finding a professional position) and jobs. It’s difficult for many to anticipate what kind of business or organization they might enter. There are so many. So this event is part of the learning process. A number of us will be there to welcome our guests and perhaps help make some introductions.
The networking luncheon follows a number of events put on by the CSC, such as career workshops and individual counselling, sessions on how to write resumes and cover letters, mock interviews, and interest and strength assessments. Some students have found out they have an aptitude for ministry in church or parachurch organizations. Some will learn or have learned that they can minister and lead in business or the public sector. The work they do in the career center will help them see the possibilities. God calls us in many ways and to many different ways of serving. FPU prepares students for those ways. We shouldn’t forget that many of our undergrads go directly to graduate school, but that is a story for another article.
Career services also extend to the FPU regional campuses. While many of these students already work full or part time, the center assists in developing careers and finding next steps. Some professions, like nursing, have clearly marked career paths. Others are not so clear—exploration is needed. Whenever I sit in on a degree completion class, I am amazed by the experience these students bring to their studies. The speed with which they relate their studies to their work and personal lives is incredible. Their education deepens their understanding and their ability to perform as professionals in their complex worlds.
Last week teacher education hosted its annual job fair. Somewhere over 50 school districts attended from as near as Fresno Unified and Fresno Christian and as far as Bakersfield and Monterey. A number of students received multiple offers, I am told. This is the time to go into teaching. Many of our students now teach fulltime in internships, receive full salaries and benefits, and take their teacher education courses over two years instead of one. Last month I met an old friend in the library who had an internship, pursuing a second career after many years in business. This is the time to go into teaching—did I say that already?—it bears repeating.
When I talk to employers of our graduates, and those who have worked with our students in internships and other projects, I almost always hear two things. I listen for them, but don’t prompt the people I speak with to get them. I hear that our students are different. They know what they should know—they are prepared to begin work as professionals or to move up in their organizations. And I also consistently hear that they care. This common-sense language conveys a deeper sense that students have been challenged academically. They have been required to work hard by their professors. At the same time, they have learned from the modeling they experience in classes and on their campuses that they are called to be servant leaders in communities, schools, churches and businesses. We know too that this uniqueness is in part due to the breadth of subjects they study, and the Christian perspective they find in their courses, beyond simple training for a profession, that deepens their understanding and readiness. They know, they are prepared and they care. This combination is unique.
Of course, we cannot take all of the credit. Many students come to us because they share the mission of FPU. They have learned it in their schools, perhaps from an FPU grad, in their homes and in their churches. They want to be in a Christian environment where their deepest commitments are nurtured. Some come to FPU and find those commitments, and they experience a deep resonance in their hearts that they had not dreamed would be a part of their education.
When students are nervous about finishing their university careers and seeking to know where their next steps will take them, or are happy because they are well started on that continuing journey, we know they are on their way. That nervousness is also anticipation, and that happiness gratitude for what God has been doing in their lives and at Fresno Pacific.