Holly McCormack joins Kenyon as dean of the Career Development Office (CDO), where she is focused on preparing students for postgraduate success and cultivating Kenyon’s deep network of alumni, parents and employers to enhance career opportunities for students.
“Kenyon obviously has such an extraordinary reputation and commitment to academic rigor and intellectual inquiry, and I believe those qualities are so critical for when we are exploring what we want our contribution in the world to be,” said McCormack, who added that she wants students to see the CDO as a place they can “explore deeply.”
We asked McCormack about how students — from first-years to seniors — can start thinking about and planning their lives after Kenyon.
What advice would you give to seniors preparing for graduation?
There’s an inherent nostalgia that you come in with as a senior, and there’s a desire to want to be present for and take in everything because you know it’s your last year. Oftentimes, because that feels so good, and the thought of starting work in the future can feel so stressful, seniors may decide to wait on coming into the CDO. So my advice would be to resist that temptation, to come in and work with a counselor if they haven’t been in before, sooner rather than later. We’re not expecting anybody to come in the door with the answers. The work of our office is really to be in continued conversation with a student as they go through their education. And for seniors, it’s about figuring out how to maximize their final year.
How can underclass students take advantage of Kenyon’s career planning services?
We’re really developing a kind of vocabulary for students when thinking about their relationship to work — what work means to them, what their values and beliefs are in relationship to it, and how they want to continue to explore their interests. Maybe the work that they want to do for a job shadow has nothing to do with what they’re majoring in, but they just have this aching interest in something that they want to get a better sense of. Maybe it’s about helping them figure out a city that they want to explore, and finding really interesting positions that are happening in that city and connecting them with alumni and parents who may be in that city. For others, it might be just making sure that they have the fundamentals down, that they’ve got a really strong resume.
Oftentimes, first-year students will come in and say, “I have no work experience, I can’t do a resume.” Maybe they haven’t had a job, but chances are they’ve worked on a really compelling project in their coursework, or they were on a really interesting committee and played a critical role, or they did some kind of fascinating volunteer experience, or they traveled. Or maybe they just learned computer programming on their own, outside of school. There’s always something, and our job is to help them start to see that as valuable, meaningful and actually really interesting to potential employers.