"The idea of returning to school after being away for 13 years was both exhilarating and daunting. My concern was that I would have sufficient time to devote to school because of a demanding job and because I am a single parent. But I took a deep breath and enrolled. Now, I plan to use my experience and education to work in a field that has true value and makes a real difference. Thanks to the generosity of the Foundation, I am one step closer to reaching my goal.

- T.D., Fordham University 2008

Career Services Workshops for Newcombe Recipients
- College of Liberal Studies, Fordham University
  May 2009

Since 1982, the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation has partnered with Fordham University to provide support for mature women students who reside in or near New York City. Fordham's programs effectively identify and serve the needs of its mature women students, and include a unique effort that recognizes the challenges mature women may encounter in entering or re-entering the workplace. The Career Services Workshops have become a valuable resource for students by providing practical information and also by creating a community of Newcombe Scholars who share information and become a resource for each other. The Newcombe Foundation appreciates Fordham's concern for and commitment to the personal and professional success of its students.

The following is an overview of Fordham's Career Service Workshops from Cira Vernazza, Associate Dean and Director of College at 60, Fordham College of Liberal Studies.

Fordham University has had a long-standing commitment to academic excellence for non-traditional students. For over 50 years, the university has provided an outstanding program for men and women who are engaged with career and family responsibilities while striving to earn a college degree. At each campus of Fordham College of Liberal Studies – Manhattan, the Bronx and Westchester – adult learners find a full-service college dedicated to their needs that provides them full access to all university services, facilities, activities and opportunities.

At the heart of Fordham's reputation is the Jesuit tradition of liberal arts education that is built on the belief that a university must do more than equip a graduate with a particular skill or specialized capability. Few students are more pragmatic than adult students and few understand better that the best programs are those that multiply their options and prepare them for the opportunities that will follow.

In keeping with this mission, Fordham College of Liberal Studies inaugurated the Career Services Workshops in 1993 to address adult students' need for support and guidance as they seek to advance in their current field or transition to a new career. The first Career Services Workshop asked the question, "Is Graduate or Professional School Right For You?" and addressed concerns often experienced by adult students about the role advanced degrees might play in their vocational advancement. Led by the Campus Director of the Career Planning and Placement Office (now the Office of Career Services), discussion topics included choosing an appropriate program, connecting with prominent faculty mentors, finding funding and scholarships, meeting admissions requirements, and capitalizing on the marriage of real-world experience and academic achievement.

Newcombe Scholars at Fordham with Cira Vernazza (in red) and Marion Viray, Associate Director, Office of Career Services.

Recognizing the unique nature of the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation in emphasizing academic achievement, financial support and vocational counseling, all Newcombe Scholarship recipients are invited to attend this workshop each fall. The Dean's Office makes academic and employment information available to the facilitator prior to the workshop; the program is then tailored to some general characteristics of that year's cohort. The tone is informal, conversational and social; since the workshops are scheduled during the evening, participants enjoy a buffet dinner while they "swap stories" – sharing their work and personal experiences.

Since 1993, Career Services Workshops have been offered every year to Newcombe Scholars, each focusing on a different vocational question or skill. Workshops are structured so that the first hour is spent in sharing personal journeys and the second part of the program targets that session's topic. Networking 101 offers information on ways to make and use effective contacts in the workplace or chosen field; the workshop entitled General Career Assessment asks participants to answer the question, "Where am I now and where do I want to go?" Diversity in the Workplace, one of the most dynamic workshops, focuses on gender diversity. Discussion points include how to deal with issues in the workplace as a woman, approaching the "glass ceiling," and how to recognize whether institutions support or suppress women in the workplace. How to Write the Cover Letter offers specific advice for writing a letter that accurately captures the qualities of the writer; Effective Interviewing presents useful techniques for personal presentation in an interview, and the workshop on Salary Negotiation prepares students for the workplace by examining ways to approach the topic of salary, as well as how to find details about comparable jobs and salaries. Another workshop called What Career Color Are You? offers advice on how to choose a career. What Can You Do with a Liberal Arts Degree? encourages students to look at their undergraduate majors in a new way, recognizing traits acquired through their academic experience that translate into useful skills for employers. Informational Interviewing presents a networking tool: how to approach and connect with the people within an organization in an information sharing session.

Through each workshop, the most valuable aspect continues to be the opportunity for networking among the Newcombe recipients and the empowerment and confidence that each woman gains from seeing the cohort as a whole. Feedback provided by participants indicates that adult women students leave these sessions with new information and encouragement, ready to realize their potential as valuable, powerful career women.

For more information about Fordham's program for mature women students, please visit their website.

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