The Academic Resource Center is developing new initiatives to help students hone their career-related skills.
Developing professional skills that are transferable to a student’s future career is one of the elements that makes Conn’s Academic Resource Center unique among Conn’s peers, according to Noel Garrett, who serves as director of the ARC and is dean of academic support.
In addition to serving as a resource center, the ARC spearheads many career-development initiatives, which provide a wide range of support services along with professional training for the entire campus.
“We’re constantly adapting to enhance our programs in ways that reflect not only the needs of our students while they’re on campus, but also the shifting economic and professional landscape they’ll encounter once they graduate,” says Garrett.
The initiatives that Garrett and his team have developed at the ARC include Fast Forward, an intensive, weeklong career-readiness program, as well as workshops and seminars in budgeting, finance, time management, presentation and other topics that help students prepare for the transition to life beyond college. The work begins in a student’s first year at Conn, integrating professional development into the four-year arc of Connections.
“The ARC and Connections work in concert to give students a competitive advantage by allowing them to ignite their curiosity and build confidence,” Garrett says.
Through this synergy, the ARC offers more than just academic support. Working with faculty across every department, the center helps students translate the elements of their liberal arts education—critical and analytical thinking, interdisciplinary study, creative and collaborative problem solving, and public speaking—into the skills necessary for success in the professional world.
The ARC has by now touched every student on campus in some capacity. That interaction starts with the First-Year Seminar and continues through Pathways and majors to senior seminars and capstone experiences.
Darby Mack ’21 is just one student who has achieved strong results working with Garrett and his team.
“My relationship with the ARC began when I realized I had to deliver a presentation to my anthropology class,” Mack says. The prospect of giving a talk on a complex topic in front of a large audience was daunting to the then-first-year student.
Understanding that the communication skills necessary to deliver a good class presentation are the same professional skills graduates need to acquire for career success, Garrett worked with Mack’s entire anthropology class so students had guidance about managing a presentation.
“The ARC broke down the assignment into manageable parts. And after doing a variety of exercises, I became comfortable with the process,” Mack says.
Assistant Professor of Anthropology Joyce Bennett marveled at the student’s transformation.
“I was floored by her presentation,” said the professor, who now regularly incorporates the center into all aspects of her teaching and advising.