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The Art of Vocation

Jacqui Smith-Bates, Director of the Career Development Center at SPUFor 22 years, Jacqui Smith-Bates, director of the Career Development Center, has helped SPU students discover their vocational gifts. We caught up with her recently and asked her a few questions.

What’s your favorite thing about being the director of CDC?

I work with a fantastic staff. And I love helping students discover a career that suits them well and that they are passionate about.

What’s the most unusual job you’ve ever had?

Well, I once worked in a ballpoint-pen factory. I’ve also been a server at a restaurant, worked in a women’s center, and spent a year studying philosophy and religion in New Zealand. I certainly did some “exploring” before settling into my career.

What makes CDC unique?

Hear Jacqui’s thoughts on the role CDC plays in helping SPU students discover their vocational passion — and what to do once they have.

What makes CDC’s services stand out from the pack?

After we help students discover what God has uniquely put in them that needs to be expressed in the world, we work to help students connect that to the real world — to connect them to professionals or networks working in a similar field.

We do this through a variety of means.
  • Job Shadow Opportunities. Students can “try on” different careers through half-day job shadow experiences .
  • Internships. Internships are the most important factor in an employer’s hiring decision right now. SPU places more than 500 of its students annually in internships through our internship program.
  • Mentoring. We help approximately 250 students each year establish a mentoring relationship with a professional in their field of interest.
  • Career Classes. Students can take a one- or two-credit class to help them choose a major that suits their interests.
  • Springboard Program. Each quarter, SpringBoard offers various career-related events, workshops, and speakers designed to assist students as they discover “what’s out there” and how to contribute in the world.

It’s a tough economy. What advice are you giving to SPU students who are job hunting?

Be prepared and be patient. Know what you are looking for, have a strong résumé and cover letter, and be able to articulate why you are a good fit for this position.

Experience and networking are extremely important in this difficult job market, but students who have taken advantage of SPU’s internship and mentoring programs will be well-equipped for the challenges ahead.

Is there anything else you would like to say to parents?

Encourage your student to use the career services available to them. And remember that your student may take a different career path than you expected.

While your son or daughter may have different interests from you, they will likely be successful if they pursue what they are passionate about.

If you have more questions, contact Jacqui and her staff.

Read other stories in the Staff Story Archives