Designing a Culture of Career Mindedness

By Betsy Newman, Senior Vice President for Student Enrollment and Engagement

One of the best measures of Berklee's success is the college's successful alumni. Our alumni roster includes many award winners and leaders in their fields. They create a powerful network for graduates and valuable mentoring resources for students. It is our role as an institution to advance the network, resources, and programs that help to produce such impressive leaders.

This commitment is central to Berklee's vision for 2025. We recently launched a process to develop a career strategy to help us advance our commitment to students and alumni to fully realize their artistic, creative, and career potential. In addition to the curriculum, Berklee has several initiatives in place to provide students with tools and resources for career success. Faculty and chairs are supportive, informed, and helpful advisers. The Career Development Center offers advisement, speakers, and workshops, and maintains a well-trafficked job and gig board; the Office of Experiential Learning builds relationships with employers, and offers an array of internship opportunities; and Alumni Affairs hosts frequent networking events. The International Career Center at Berklee's campus in Valencia, Spain, provides all these services to its graduate student body. The college recently launched the Berklee Career Manager, which delivers many of these services in a personalized way online and via email notifications from the Berklee Hub. The Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE) is training students to develop their entrepreneurial mindsets.

Defining a strategy for Berklee that reflects a progressive approach to career services, while developing a model consistent with our unique position as the world's leading music college, has been an area of focus for me and the Career Strategy Steering Committee. We also hope that this strategy will guide us to further integrate advising, classroom activities, and experiential learning opportunities—such as internships, campus employment, and gigs—to be in service of the student and her or his ultimate musical, artistic, and creative objectives.

During the fall 2015 semester, we began assessing the effectiveness of our current offerings. We brought in two top career services professionals for a series of group and individual meetings with more than 65 Berklee community members, including chairs, deans, career staff, students, and alumni. This program review informed the next phase of the committee's work: a project designed to dive deeply into the student experience to generate insights that can shape an innovative, student-centered, long-term strategy for student career services at Berklee.

This semester we launched a joint project with IDEO, a global design and innovation firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and BerkleeICE. Using IDEO's human-centered design methodology, we will develop a shared vision and actionable ideas to make Berklee a world leader in preparing graduates for the ever-changing employment environment. We are exploring ways to build the entrepreneurial capacity of our students, help them take charge of their careers, integrate career education throughout our curriculum, develop a culture of career mindedness, and engage alumni, employers, and partners in the career development process with students.

A component of the IDEO project is BerkleeICE's Startup Lab, inspired by Stanford's and designed to enable students to cocreate Berklee's career strategy with us. During the spring 2016 semester, IDEO designers and BerkleeICE faculty members co-taught an intensive course in design thinking and entrepreneurial mindset development. Enrolled students gain résumé-building experience working alongside IDEO designers while learning IDEO's unique design-thinking process to focus on their future. Students will leave this course prepared for life beyond Berklee, and equipped with the relevant, competitive, real-world ability to apply the design-thinking process to their own musical careers, brands, and startup concepts.

These projects will generate experiments for the Berklee community as a first step toward ultimately creating a better culture of career-mindedness.