The capstone to an education

Career planning should be central to the U of C experience.

By Maroon Editorial Board

A practical resource like Career Advising and Planning Services (CAPS) can be overlooked in a school that mostly embraces the intellectual and theoretical. After all, a meeting with a career advisor may not be a top priority when midterms and class meetings consume hours on end. Thus, the second and third floors of Ida Noyes, dedicated almost entirely to career preparation for undergraduates, remain underutilized and too often ignored.

This is a pity, because CAPS offers a legitimately comprehensive program. More pitiful is the popular opinion that career exploration is a hobby to be indulged on occasion, rather than a fundamental aspect of our college education. It is an inconvenient fact, however, that putting long hours of research and preparation into your job and internship search is just as important as conquering your nightly reading. In fact, it’s probably more important.

Nevertheless, the average undergraduate’s time at CAPS usually involves only the obligatory resume check to activate Chicago Career Connection, and attendance at Venture to Adventure or Taking the Next Step. This lack of participation may be predictable given the intensity of a UChicago schedule, but it’s unfortunate considering the breadth of available resources.

As students, we should keep some perspective. In pursuing the noble ideal that is the life of the mind, some of us forget about life, period. No matter how obscure your interests, whether they be Akkadian society or postmodern art, there is an internship or job out there that caters to them. All the late-night cram sessions, weekends spent studying at the Reg, and time invested in respective RSOs are driven by an academic vigor or some enthusiasm for achievement.

This same vigor and enthusiasm must, after graduation, be translated into productive service for some broader community, whether it be the workplace or the world at large. Students must realize the importance of finding these opportunities so they can transition smoothly from higher education to their lives as contributing citizens. Our short-term efforts in class must be coupled with long-term planning, and CAPS provides that crucial bridge.

The responsibility is not only that of the students; the University should likewise take initiative and facilitate more student involvement in CAPS. One idea would be instituting “CAPS czars” on House Councils, representatives who would explain to their housemates the array of CAPS events held each week, and act as conduits for student feedback to CAPS.

Just as Inter-House Council reps publicize dorm and dining issues and intramural reps keep their housemates informed about athletics, a CAPS czar would ensure that students hear about the office’s programs regularly and—since those living in housing are mostly underclassmen—early in their College careers. Active outreach of this sort could bring career planning to the center of student life and make it as much a part of the UChicago experience as HUM papers and all-night problem set marathons.

The Maroon Editorial Board consists of the Editor-in-Chief and the Viewpoints Editors.