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Finlandia University Awarded Grant to Launch Center for Vocation and Career Development

June 5, 2019

Finlandia University students are set to see an upgrade to their job-seeking skills as the university has received the $25,000 NetVUE Vocation across the Academy Grant from the Council of Independent Colleges to launch a Center for Vocation and Career Development.

The Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) has a membership of over 200 universities and colleges, and the membership is growing each year,” said Dr. Rene Johnson, Director of Servant Leadership and Assistant Professor of Religion. “That’s because these schools, like Finlandia, understand the vital difference we can make in a student’s educational experience, and life, when we offer opportunities for personal reflection on matters of meaning and purpose.”

The heart of Finlandia University is the students. The aim of the university is to prepare those students to go into the world as more caring and more well-rounded individuals than when they started their higher education journey.

“Finlandia students are well positioned to enter the workforce due to internships, capstone projects, study abroad and other culminating experiences,” said Erin Barnett, Dean of Students and Enrollment. “However, having a centralized location where the development of job-seeking skills takes priority is essential to their success. This funding provides an opportunity for Finlandia to create synergy between vocational exploration and career development in innovative ways.”  

The Center for Vocation and Career Development will be established within the first year of the grant. The goals of the center to be accomplished once the Center is established are (1) to bookend the Finlandia experience in vocational discernment exercises for all students in their first and final years of study, (2) to elevate the profile and opportunities for vocational discernment in both curricular and co-curricular programs, (3) to coordinate strategies for career and professional development across the institution and (4) to equip academic advisors in the practice of appreciative advising.

“Grant support from NetVUE enables us to develop this critical project of creating a vocation and career center, but more importantly, it equips us as a campus to strategically nurture our students’ imaginations about their own possibilities for impacting the world through their lives and work,” Dr. Johnson said.

Vocation reflection may be new to some, but at Finlandia it is a core commitment rooted in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America values. Vocation may be defined as one’s calling to serve the common good, while a career is one’s work. The Center aims to give students a place to cultivate both halves of themselves. The Center will provide more opportunities to students in the way of career fairs, workshops, retreats and etiquette training to develop additional workforce skills in real life situations.

“Resumé questions excite no one and don’t necessarily represent the soul of the individual,” said Dr. Johnson. “After all, it is the person that is hired, not the information on a resume. Therefore, we also need to provide opportunities for vocational reflection where students can wrestle with questions of values and meaning. What do you love to do? What are you most proud of? Where do you find fulfillment?”

“Doing this kind of reflection, through assessment tools, readings and seminars that we’ll be providing in the Center, will help students determine if they’re heading in the right direction toward work or further studies that will excite them, and it will equip students to express their personhood thoughtfully in an interview, making it clear to a potential employer what kind of person they are considering for employment.”

Finlandia is set to raise an additional $25,000 to match this grant, and when that is accomplished NetVUE will award an additional $10,000 to the project.

The Center for Vocation and Career Development is set to launch in 2020.

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