• Center for Career and Professional Development
    Southwestern University

Big changes are afoot for Southwestern University’s award-winning Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD). Earlier this summer, Assistant Director of Internship and Employment Development Dana Luna and Internship and Employment Developer Austin Painchaud ’13—the staff who focus on connecting students with on- and off-campus internships—moved from the CCPD to the Center for Integrative Learning to consolidate all high-impact experiences (i.e., internships, study abroad, undergraduate research, and community-engaged learning) within one office. Daniel Orozco, who was director of career services since 2013, is retiring from Southwestern effective July 30; a national search for a new director will launch soon. Now, Southwestern announces that the CPPD is transitioning from the division of Student Life to the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations (OAPR) within the Office of University Relations. The latest move reflects Southwestern’s commitment to helping current students navigate the changing employment landscape. The transition will allow the CCPD to better leverage the community of 16,000 alumni, 2,400 current parents, and thousands of friends who can support students and young alumni in their career exploration and development.

Integrating the CCPD with the OAPR is part of President Laura Skandera Trombley and the Board of Trustees’ vision for the institution, as outlined in the 2021–2026 Tactical Plan: to distinguish Southwestern as a top liberal-arts university in the nation. The collaboration between career services and alumni and parent relations will create more robust programming focused on student training and employment while harnessing the professional expertise of Southwestern’s close-knit alumni community. The transition also aligns with SU’s Paideia approach to education, which connects students to interdisciplinary knowledge, to each other, and to the world. The ultimate goal will be to place more than 99% of Southwestern graduates in jobs or graduate and fellowship programs within six months of receiving their degree. “It is our ethical and moral obligation as an institution, both individually and collectively, to prepare 100% of our students for meaningful careers after Southwestern University,” says Vice President for University Relations Paul Secord. “We are committed to raising the bar for what effective career readiness and professional development look like at a liberal-arts university.”

Ranked #1 in Texas and #3 in the U.S. for Best Career Services by The Princeton Review, the CCPD has partnered often with the OAPR in years past. Together, they created PirateConnect, Southwestern’s online mentoring and networking platform, which has empowered current students to land jobs and further their professional development through opportunities provided by alumni. The two offices have also collaborated with the Center for Integrative Learning on Bridges, a project marketplace fueled by Southwestern alumni, parents, and friends who are offering meaningful short-term projects that students and recent graduates can engage in virtually; the expansion of the Alumni Network Mentoring Program; and Career Treks, a program in which SU student groups travel to various organizations to engage with employers behind the scenes.

Under the auspices of the OAPR and University Relations, the CCPD will pursue the following goals:

  1. To create a campus culture of deliberate, lifelong professional development from students’ first week on campus through their postgraduate experience.
  2. To prepare students to graduate from Southwestern successfully satisfied with their career prospects and outcomes. 
  3. To engage Southwestern alumni, parents, and friends in efforts to support the success of current students and young graduates.
  4. To provide substantial, proactive career support for Southwestern alumni.
  5. To set a model for how liberal-arts institutions prepare their graduates for life in a dynamic society. 

Planned initiatives include improving opportunities for job shadowing, internships, and jobs; helping students prepare and apply for graduate school and funding opportunities to support graduate education; recruiting students for the I-CORPS Program, which supports the professional development of first-generation college students, Pell-eligible students, and students from underrepresented populations; partnering with Southwestern faculty and staff to host conversations about work and life design; expanding the annual SOAR Summit, SU’s professional-development academy for sophomores, to include a track specifically focused on supporting graduating seniors; and developing a Career Opportunity Fund to aid students who cannot afford the expenses related to career exploration and the job search.

For more information on the award-winning services provided by the CCPD, please visit southwestern.edu/center-for-career-and-professional-development.