New Career Pathways model helps students explore and get connected beyond their major

Planning for the future can be anxiety-inducing, but the University of Florida’s Career Connections Center is dedicated to helping students along the way. This past summer, the center launched a model that makes it easier for students explore industries and opportunities, learn about skills needed and build social capital that will lead them toward graduation success.

Career Pathways is a new initiative designed around creating avenues for students to explore beyond their declared majors and learn about a variety of different career fields using related skills sets. This initiative includes customizable career development programming and resources, allowing students to choose from six groups of related industries. The model enables students to explore groups of related industries.

“Major doesn’t equal career,” said Julia Vollrath, associate director of campus initiatives and career pathways. “Our goal is to broaden students’ understanding of how they can apply their degrees, increase access for students and work more intentionally within their academic programs.”

The six Career Pathways — science, technology, engineering and mathematics; arts, communications, media and marketing; healthcare and health science; business, public service and tourism; human services, consulting and education; and architecture, manufacturing, natural resources and agriculture — were identified based on the 16 career clusters outlined by O*Net and grouped together based on which industries shared common knowledge and skills.

Unlike past models where career exploration was more closely tied to degree, the new Career Pathways model allows students to explore career resources, programs and industry connections no matter their major.

“This model speaks more to what industry is saying,” Vollrath said. “When we’re working with employers, they’re looking for all majors for their industry. This way, students can be more open to various employment opportunities.”

Each pathway has at least one career coach to support students interested in those industries.

Allie Simon, associate director for career engagement, said she encourages students to look out for career fairs, career labs, workshops, tabling and other events Career Pathways coaches will be hosting across campus.

“Career Pathways provides opportunities to connect with alumni, employers and each other, which is a central part of the model,” she said.

Ultimately, Vollrath said she hopes Career Pathways will enable students to explore career options they otherwise might not have considered.

“We’re helping to educate them on what’s out there and how to get connected,” she said.

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