Bahls wins award for trailblazing student career development

Feven Zewdu

President Bahls recently received The Career Services Champion Award from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) for his leadership role in enhancing the career development programs in the Augustana College campus.

This award recognizes the work done by the institute in preparing students for the future through offices like CORE, according to the press release provided by the President’s office. According to the NACE website, the award goes to a college or university president who supports and demonstrates innovative ideas towards career services and education. 

NACE is recognizing President Bahls because Augustana’s CORE is a “career center like no other,” according to the press release sent from the college.

CORE stands for Career, Opportunities, Research and Explorations. It is an office located on campus that helps students with career development by providing a network of mentors, resources and experiences focused on their future, according to the Augustana College website. CORE combines departments including first year advising, internships, entrepreneurial development, student research, study away, specialized experiential learning and centers partnering with career development and vocation. 

Laura Kestner-Ricketts, executive director of career of professional development at CORE, said students utilize the office by exploring programs such as the upper mississippi center, the edge center, the center for wellness and study away. 

“We help students from the beginning once they get here, helping them figure out who they are, what they want to do. Then help them explore ways that they can start to gain experience through our signature programs,” Kestner-Ricketts said. “And then the next part is really helping students figure out how to use those skills as they go into their next steps after college.”

According to Kestner-Ricketts, there are some misconceptions when it comes to the services provided by the office. 

“I think that there are a lot of myths out there that students think that A: you have to know exactly what you want to do before going to CORE, B: some students think that we only serve business and accounting majors and C: some students think that we only serve seniors, and all three of those are incorrect,” Kestner-Ricketts said.

CORE also helps students with planning their career. Senior Elisa Wynn said she went there seeking help with her Augie Choice and resume, but she said she hasn’t gone back to the office due to the lack of encouraging information about the office from other students. She assumed that it was because of her major and the fluidity of having a major in the arts. 

“I didn’t hear great things from other students and friends that have been there. So I was sort of like ‘Is it gonna be worth it?” Wynn said. 

Senior Derek Sandstedt had a different experience with CORE. Sandstedt has a job lined up for after college and felt that CORE helped him on the way. Sandstedt said he learned how the real world of business works and how his major can apply towards a career he aspires for from his visits to CORE.  

“CORE does a really good job of helping you build your resume. So if you walk in there, they will take a look at the resume that you put together and either revise it for you or they’ll build you one from scratch. And they did a really good job of that for me personally,” Sandstedt said. 

Along with the help he received for his resume, Sandstedt said Handshake helped him figure out what he would do after he graduated. 

“The Handshake program was the thing that led to me getting a job directly because it put me in contact with the recruiter that hired me for the job that I’ll have after college,” Sandstedt said. 

According to the press release regarding President Bahls’ NACE award, the leadership that President Bahls displayed for career innovation is what earned him this award. With the support from the Augustana community, President Bahls focused on improving the student outlook on career development. 

“What we thought we needed to do was connect the dots a little better, to be even more deliberate and make it easier for students to think about their destination and the path to get there,” Bahls said in a press release sent by the college.