The College of Arts and Letters is introducing Beyond the Dome — a new set of tools and resources to help guide Arts and Letters students through the career discernment process.
The goal, said Marty Whalen ’82, A&L career program manager, is not just to help students find jobs — but to ensure they find meaning in their future careers.
“Arts and Letters students already have great outcomes — within six months of graduating, 97 percent of them have launched their careers, started graduate school, or begun pursuing a service opportunity,” he said. “But I think a better measurement of the value of an Arts and Letters degree is five or 10 or 20 years down the road, when we can see how much they really enjoy what they’re doing.”
The discernment process to find such fulfilling work takes effort, Whalen said.
“It involves thinking deeply about what makes you tick and where your interests lie. It’s about finding a good fit for your values and your personality,” he said. “Those things all have to enter into the equation to find meaningful employment. And our students will make a much greater impact if they are in the right place for them.”
Whalen’s position and Beyond the Dome are part of the Arts & Letters Career Initiative, which was launched last year with the support of Mary ’80 and Tim Rooney and Michael ’94 and Jennifer Whitman.
The Beyond the Dome program features a number of opportunities that are exclusive to A&L students — including a peer-mentoring program, an online discernment tool linked to a job-matching board, an alumni speaker series, and a year-by-year guide to career readiness.
The tools are designed to build upon, enhance, and increase awareness of the resources at the Meruelo Family Center for Career Development.
“No matter what their major is, our students’ future potential is limitless — they are prepared to do anything, including jobs that don’t even exist yet,” said Sarah A. Mustillo, the I.A. O’Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts & Letters. “Successfully building bridges between their academic passions and their future careers requires guidance, and the Beyond the Dome program is designed to offer additional means of support for our students and ensure they take full advantage of all that is available to them.”
“No matter what their major is, our students’ future potential is limitless — they are prepared to do anything, including jobs that don’t even exist yet. Successfully building bridges between their academic passions and their future careers requires guidance, and the Beyond the Dome program is designed to offer additional means of support for our students and ensure they take full advantage of all that is available to them.”
A recent Center for Career Development survey, Whalen said, found that for 80 percent of students, their top source of career information is their friends and classmates. That sparked the idea for the Peers to Careers program, which will recruit and train up to 90 A&L students on how to navigate career resources. Those students will then serve as liaisons and mentors to others in their dorms. They are also creating a year-by-year guide to career readiness — including information on when to visit the Center for Career Development and how to find internships.
“It’s an excellent opportunity for students to not only help others in their dorms, but to really dig in and understand the career process for themselves,” Whalen said. “It’s also a built-in focus group, to make sure that the tools we are developing resonate with students.”
Another resource introduced in the Beyond the Dome toolkit is PathwayU, an algorithm-based platform that asks students about their interests, values, personality, and workplace preferences before suggesting areas where students may find fulfillment in their careers. Students can then link directly from their assessments to more information about the careers in those fields and to a job board that shows available positions and internships with their strong matches.
“It’s amazing because it provides students with a range of strong to weak matches in a wide variety of different fields,” Whalen said. “It’s not a magic wand that says a student should be this, but it helps them learn about things they may not have considered before.”
These tools are particularly useful for A&L students, Whalen said, because their liberal arts education prepares them for such a wide range of outcomes.
Whalen, who majored in sociology at Notre Dame, went on to earn an MBA and served as CEO of his family-owned business. He has also served on several boards of directors and taught as an adjunct professor of business with the Moreau College Initiative. After selling his business, he participated in the first cohort of Notre Dame’s Inspired Leadership Initiative, then joined Arts and Letters last year.
“I went on to work in the business world, but I never stopped using the lessons and foundational learning I had in the liberal arts,” he said. “One of the tenets of majoring in the liberal arts is that you should study what you love. But if you’re going to major in what you love, then you owe it to yourself — and, really, to the world — to figure out what the next step is, what you’re going to love next, and pursue it intentionally.”