Oregon State University – Cascades will launch a novel program this fall that integrates career preparation into coursework for all students to prepare them for success in their career.
The program is to be called Cascades Edge and will engage all students throughout their enrollment leading to graduation. Andrew Ketsdever, interim vice president of OSU-Cascades, said Cascades Edge is thought to be among a few college programs nationally that incorporate career readiness coursework into every academic term to accelerate students’ employability.
“As university leaders, we’ve heard clearly from families their concern about college debt and the value of a college education in preparing students for meaningful careers,” said Ketsdever. “The Cascades Edge program at OSU-Cascades reinvents the college career center and brings meaningful career development to each and every student, throughout their college education.”
Cascades Edge activities will include students exploring majors and related career paths through job shadowing, internships and networking. A report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers said such programs contribute to higher starting salaries and promotion opportunities for new professionals and better enable a person to contribute to an organization beginning with their first job.
Career readiness opportunities are typically offered at colleges and universities, yet nationwide 78% of college students rarely or never access a campus career office, according to a 2018 Strada-Gallup survey.
Ketsdever said underrepresented students such as first-generation students and students of color are often less likely to seek the services of a career center.
Faculty, career experts, academic advisors, employers, parents and prospective students helped create the Cascade Edge program.
Ketsdever said the program also addresses concerns offered nationally by students and their families about how to avoid potentially costly and time-consuming changes in academic majors.
In their first year enrolled in the Cascades Edge program, students will take a course focused on self-discovery, as well as understand how their talents and interests relate to academic majors offered at OSU-Cascades and related career occupations.
“For many students, choosing a career field can be one of the most anxiety-inducing decisions of their lives,” said Jen Hoffmann, assistant director of experiential learning at OSU-Cascades. “Cascades Edge will give students tools and guidance to assess which major is a right fit for their talents and ambitions and give them the confidence to develop their career paths.”
Students will analyze their personal financial scenarios, including projected student debt obligations after graduation, so that they can understand how their career path will help them meet obligations.
Students also will participate in career preparation activities including research projects, participating in informational interviews and career fairs, as well as developing a professional resume and practicing interview skills.
Students will earn resume-building badges that can be added to their personal websites and social networking website programs that employers often use in seeking job applicants.
“A college career center is invaluable in preparing students for professional success, but only if students access it,” said Ketsdever. “We believe we have developed a solution that will bring the career center to every student at OSU-Cascades and give them the core skills to reap the most value from their tuition investment.”
Oregon State University’s campus in Bend brings higher education to Central Oregon, the fastest growing region in the state. Surrounded by 2.5 million acres of mountains and high desert, OSU-Cascades offers small classes that accelerate faculty-student mentoring and engages in top tier research as part of Oregon State University. Degree programs meet industry and economic needs in areas such as innovation and entrepreneurship, natural ecosystems, health and wellness, and arts and sciences, and prepare students for tomorrow’s challenges. OSU-Cascades is expanding to serve 3,000 to 5,000 students, building a 128-acre campus with net-zero goals.