There are few events college seniors look forward to more than commencement, but in an increasingly competitive job market and struggling economy, recent graduates can find their chances at employment quite slim. How, then, can work skills be effectively employed in such an uncertain environment?

For Mary Baldwin students, the Sena Center for Career Development provides several tutorials and tips to help begin the job hunt. A three-part series of monthly workshops, Taking Your Liberal Arts to Work, is designed to equip students with the information needed to successfully pursue employment. The workshops, which include topics on finding resources through the library, using research tools, and how to best organize and strengthen a resume, will be held in Grafton Library.

Kellyann Elizabeth Gordon

The first event, held February 1, focused on helping students decide on future career plans.

“I was very pleased with the turnout for our first workshop,” said organizer and Director of Career Development Services Julie Chappell. “We tried to provide useful information in an interactive format, incorporating new ‘clickers’ (remote control-like devices), so that we could poll students on various topics and keep them engaged, rather than making it a lecture format.”

Chappell explained that although the job market is recovering slowly, it is possible for college graduates to succeed. The remaining workshops — Finding Resources, scheduled for March 2 and Using Your Networks on April 7 — are geared toward selecting career goals, highlighting credentials through resumes and interviews, and emphasizing ways in which students can best utilize on-campus resources such as Grafton Library and Sena Center.

“I’d like people to know that, even though this is an ongoing series, no one is precluded from attending the remaining two. We’d love to have a large turnout of returning and new students for the final workshops,” Chappell said. “My hope is that students who have worked with Career Development Services will be better prepared to face the transition from Mary Baldwin to their next step in life by obtaining skills and gaining confidence.”

Katie Kelly ’14, who is weighing the option of med school after graduation, attended the first workshop. “Considering my future, and what I wanted in the job market, [the workshop] helped me look at my family values. Whether I decide to attend grad school depends on the future, and if I decide to get married,” Kelly said, adding that the first workshop was helpful in finding possible internships, making use of Grafton’s reference librarians, and looking for employment in her hometown.

“I had no idea what the Sena Center even was until I showed up at the workshop and learned about it,” Kelly admitted.

Hailey Shinault ’14 also attended the first workshop, which helped solidify her decision to pursue a career in education. “I’ve known what I wanted to do since I was a senior in high school,” Shinault said. “Mary Baldwin’s five-year master’s program [for teaching] appealed to me, which is why I chose to come here. I feel more comfortable knowing that there are educational opportunities for women who plan to become teachers.”

Shinault said she plans to attend the remaining two workshops.

“I feel as if I have a stronger sense of what I want to do and I have a better sense of where I want to teach,” she said.

For more information on the workshops, visit the Career Development Services Facebook page or call 887-7221.