Join us for this special VIRTUAL career exploration and networking program taking place during the week of January 11-15, 2021!

Apply to participate in the VIRTUAL January 2021 Gateway Explore & Connect Program to be paired with an alumna/us, parent, employer, or other friend of Lafayette to expand your knowledge of a career field, develop your professional acumen, and expand your professional network. Students of all class years, majors, and career interest areas are eligible to apply. Please read below for more details regarding the student commitment, program format, and application process and timeline.

Important Details

Highlights from the 2020/2021 Explore & Connect Program

Timeline, Format, & Application Guidance

Program Format

The Gateway Explore & Connect Program is designed to be an entirely virtual/remote experience for students and volunteers, allowing participants to engage from any location. Through this program, volunteers will commit the following to each student with whom they’ve been paired:

  • Providing organization/industry/role materials for student to review/research prior to connection
  • Engaging in a virtual hour-long informational conversation with assigned student
  • Coordinating at least one additional (virtual) informational conversation with someone in your network to allow student to explore further
  • Providing, explaining, and reviewing sample work assignment for student: case study, sample work task, real work assignment
  • [optional] Providing a virtual (video/photo/other) “tour” of work setting (live or pre-recorded) *This will not be feasible for volunteers who are not currently in their traditional work environment.

In complement to this, student participants will commit to:

  • Participating in a mandatory Career Center orientation that covers timeline, professional etiquette, expectations, etc.
  • Engaging professionally with volunteer and the networking connection initiated through volunteer
  • Reviewing pre-assigned reading/research materials to ensure preparedness for conversations
  • Completing work sample/case study/assignment and seeking constructive feedback on your contributions
  • Sending a professional communication expressing gratitude to volunteer and others who provided experience
  • Completing assessment/SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of match of the career field based on what was learned during the experience
    (as part of Career Center follow-up; guidance will be provided)
  • Developing two SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based) goals as next steps in career exploration/ development – whether to further pursue path explored or a different career area (as part of Career Center follow-up; guidance will be provided)

Timeline

SEPTEMBER 1 – OCTOBER 7

  • Alumni, parents, employers, and friends of Lafayette register as Explore & Connect Volunteers through the Career Center.

OCTOBER 14 – NOVEMBER 2

  • Student applications go live Wednesday, October 14th
  • Student applications due before 11:59PM (EST) on Monday, November 2nd
  • Volunteers begin planning/gathering materials for the Explore & Connect experience.

NOVEMBER 3 – 30

  • Career Center conducts student-volunteer pairings.
  • Students attend required orientation led by the Career Center, and are notified of volunteer pairing:
    • Wednesday, November 18th at 12pm EST
    • Wednesday, November 18th at 6pm EST
    • Thursday, November 19th at 4:30pm EST
    • Monday, November 23rd at 12pm EST
  • Volunteers are notified by Career Center of student pairings (on 11/30).
  • Volunteers continue preparing for their student interaction. This may include identifying materials for the student to review ahead of the call, taking photos/video of the workplace to show the student, talking to a colleague about having a conversation with the student, and/or preparing the student’s case study or work sample assignment.

DECEMBER

  • Volunteers can expect students to initiate contact in early December.
  • Students submit Outreach Update form (electronically) by Wednesday, December 9th at 5PM (EST)
  • Students and volunteers continue communications and planning throughout the month.
  • Volunteers provide students with any preparation materials to review prior to their January conversation.

JANUARY

  • Explore & Connect Program conversations between volunteers and students take place the week of January 11-15, 2021 at a time coordinated by volunteer and student.
  • Students submit a copy of thank you communication to volunteer, evaluation, SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis, and SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based) goals to Career Center.

See FAQ titled “What am I committing to as a student?” for more details regarding student commitments and time commitment.

Application Guidance

  • Review all available Explore & Connect opportunities; don’t limit yourself to a particular career/industry category.
  • This is a virtual opportunity, so be sure to consider volunteers from a wide range of geographies.
  • Make sure you read the Special Requirements section of each opportunity to see if the volunteer has made restrictions on who can apply (i.e. certain class years, majors, etc.).
  • Enter your top choices on the application form. This is a competitive program; the Career Center encourages you to select more than two opportunities to increase your likelihood of a pairing.
  • Only complete Explore & Connect applications submitted by the due date will be considered.
  • Your essay is an important component of the application.  Spend an appropriate amount of time gathering your thoughts.  Only one essay is required per student, there is no need to write separate essays for each Explore & Connect selection.  All essays must be typed and double spaced and labeled with your name.  Utilize the Writing Center’s virtual appointments for feedback on your essay: https://cwp.lafayette.edu/. The Gateway Counselors are not able to review your essay given their direct role in the volunteer-student matching process.
  • Your resume should be done in a one-page professional resume style that effectively communicates your education, skills, and experience.  The Career Center strongly advises having your resume reviewed by a Gateway Counselor before applying. [See FAQs for resume review resources.]
  • The Career Center performs the student-volunteer pairings.  The volunteer receives the student resume once the pairing is made.
  • If you apply for an Explore & Connect opportunity and are awarded one, participation is REQUIRED.

Contact the Gateway Career Center (610-330-5115; careers@lafayette.edu) with any questions throughout the application process.  We are happy to help you in preparing the best application materials possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Gateway Explore & Connect Program?

The Gateway Explore & Connect Program is a virtual career exploration program designed to provide students with information about a career field of interest, a chance to “test” the career area through a work sample or case study, and a structured opportunity to expand their professional networks. Please see below for student and volunteer commitments.

What kind of experience should I anticipate through this virtual program?

Through this virtual program, volunteers commit to providing a student experience that includes the following:

  • Organization/industry/role materials for student to review/research prior to connection
  • A virtual hour-long informational conversation (between student and assigned volunteer)
  • At least one additional (virtual) informational conversation with someone in the volunteer’s network to allow the student to explore further
  • A sample work assignment such as a case study, sample work task, real work assignment
  • [optional] A virtual (video/photo/other) “tour” of work setting (live or pre-recorded) *This will not be feasible for volunteers who are not currently in their traditional work environment.

When does the Gateway Explore & Connect Program take place?

Explore & Connect Program conversations between volunteers and students will take place the week of January 11-15, 2021. Please see above for full program timeline.

Who are the program volunteers?

Explore & Connect volunteers are comprised of alumni, parents, and friends of Lafayette who span a wide variety of professional roles, organizations, industries, and geographies (all experiences will be virtual). Some volunteers are current graduate or professional school students.

Who can participate?

Students of all class years, majors, and career interests are eligible to apply. Students must be in good academic and social standing with the college, and must be currently enrolled at Lafayette College.

Why should I participate?

Through this program, students will expand their knowledge of a career field, develop their professional acumen in a remote format, and expand their professional network. In addition, students will complete an analysis of their match to the career field (SWOT analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats), and two SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based) career goals based on the experience to propel them forward with their career exploration, development, and planning.

What am I committing to as a student?

When submitting your application, you will be committing to the following:

  • Participating in a mandatory Career Center orientation that covers timeline, professional etiquette, expectations, etc.
  • Engaging professionally with the volunteer and the networking connection initiated through volunteer
  • Reviewing pre-assigned reading/research materials to ensure preparedness for conversations
  • Completing work sample/case study/assignment and seeking constructive feedback on your contributions. Please note that this is a work sample; previous experience in the respective professional area is not required unless otherwise specified in the “Special Requirements” section of the Explore & Connect experience.
  • Sending a professional communication expressing gratitude to the volunteer and others who provided experience
  • Completing assessment/SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of match of the career field based on what was learned during the experience
    (as part of Career Center follow-up; guidance will be provided)
  • Developing two SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based) goals as next steps in career exploration/ development – whether to further pursue path explored or a different career area (as part of Career Center follow-up; guidance will be provided)

While each Explore & Connect experience will be different based on the volunteer, career field, work sample/case study, etc., we expect most students will commit approximately 8-16 hours in total to the above responsibilities. Here’s an example of how a student’s time may be spent through the program*:

Monday, January 11th: Student spends two hours reviewing preparation materials sent by volunteer. [2 hours]
Tuesday, January 12th: Student conducts hour-long informational conversation with their assigned volunteer and another two hours individually reviewing/responding to the case study provided by the volunteer. [3 hours]
Thursday, January 13th: Student conducts a second hour-long informational conversation with a contact of their assigned volunteer to further explore interests. [1 hour]
Friday, January 15th: Student and volunteer reconnect for an hour-long debrief of case study assignment. [1 hour]
Saturday-Sunday, January 16th-17th: Student reflects on experience and independently completes SWOT analysis, SMART goal-setting, writes a detailed thank you to both the volunteer and their additional informational conversation participant, and submits evaluation to Gateway Career Center. [3 hours]

*Some student experiences may be lengthier if the volunteer has scheduled additional learning opportunities, conversations, etc. whereas others may be shorter if the work sample/case study component is less time-consuming. Each student situation will vary and the above is provided only as a rough sample of what a student experience could entail.

What is a SWOT analysis?

SWOT analysis is a situational analysis technique through which you evaluate internal strengths and weaknesses and examine external opportunities and threats. When applied to career exploration, a SWOT analysis provides you with helpful information to assess the fit and match of a career field to your strengths, interests, and goals. You will conduct your personal SWOT analysis by asking questions throughout your Explore & Connect experience, reviewing provided materials, and reflecting on what you experience and learn through the work sample/case study.

 

What are SMART goals?

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Based. These five characteristics work together to help you ensure that the goals you craft are well thought out, precise, and trackable.

At the conclusion of your Explore & Connect experience, we will ask you to write two career development-related goals. These goals may or may not be directly connected to your Explore & Connect experience. These goals may be related to your internship or job search, expanding your professional network, updating/enhancing your professional documents and/or presence, graduate/professional school planning, course selection, further exploration, or something else altogether.

Review these helpful articles related to SMART goals:

What resources are available to support me as I create my resume and write my essay?

Resume Resources:

  • Resume Webshop Tutorial
  • Weekly Drop In Times with a Gateway Counselor:
    Mondays, 3-4p (Candy & Career Chats)
    Tuesdays, 11:30a-1:30p (Counselor on Call)
    Fridays, 2-4p (Counselor on Call)
    *Access Zoom links from the Upcoming Events menu of your CareerSpot account.
  • Resume Drop Day: Thursday, October 29th, 9:30a-4p -No appointment needed! Email your document to careers@lafayette.edu for a quick critique. Get a response within 24 hours!

Essay Resource:

  • Utilize the Writing Center’s virtual appointments for feedback on your essay: https://cwp.lafayette.edu/. The Gateway Counselors are not able to review your essay given their direct role in the volunteer-student matching process.

What happens after I apply?

During the week of November 16th, you will receive an email indicating whether or not you have been paired with an Explore & Connect volunteer. If paired, you will be required to attend one of the orientation meetings held in November. At this session, you will receive the name and contact information of the volunteer to which you’ve been paired as well as important information about how to proceed and resources for the SWOT analysis and SMART goals component.

Who should I contact with questions?

Contact Melissa Schultz in the Career Center at schultma@lafayette.edu or 610-330-5115 with any questions about the program.