Purposeful Work and Career Development


Dear Members of the Bates Community,

I write to share the news that we will soon be opening a search for a new position in Student Affairs to oversee the work of both the Purposeful Work team and the Bates Career Development Center (BCDC), with the goal of creating an organizational structure that maintains the broad scope and mission-based approach of Purposeful Work, eliminates duplication of effort, and provides a more coherent experience for students, alumni, and employers.


Purposeful Work was launched three years ago as a college-wide initiative designed to help students identify and cultivate their interests and strengths and acquire the knowledge, experiences, and relationships necessary to pursue their aspirations with imagination and authenticity. It is grounded in our liberal arts mission, has curricular and co-curricular aspects, and takes a four-year, developmental approach to working with students. Specific programs include curricular elements that link coursework to questions of meaning, purpose, and careers; Practitioner-Taught Courses in Short Term; the “Purposeful Work Unplugged” speaker series; a development and reflection program for on-campus student employees; the How to Adult life skill series; and a greatly expanded platform of funded internships through a network of core employers.

The Bates Career Development Center (BCDC) has long been the central resource for students seeking to explore and clarify interests, to secure summer opportunities and jobs after graduation, to connect with alumni and employers, and to obtain assistance and guidance for navigating the graduate and professional school application process. BCDC also assists students in securing internships, working in collaboration with the Purposeful Work team. In thousands of appointments and dozens of programs each year, the BCDC staff helps Bates students envision the possibilities of life after college and focus on the paths that will get them where they want to be.

What We Have Heard from You

The decision to create this new position is based on wide-ranging input from students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and employers over the past three years through, among other things, systematic discussions as we have built new programs, targeted assessment of specific programs, annual senior surveys, and a survey of the entire alumni body. From students in particular, we have learned that:

  • Strong connections to employers, alumni, and parents who can offer job shadow experiences, internships, mentorship, and guidance about building networks are extremely important.
  • The confidence of Bates’ seniors in their career-related abilities has increased significantly in all measures surveyed since Purposeful Work began.
  • “Handshake,” a software platform implemented by the BCDC in 2015 to improve student access to internship and job opportunities, has been greeted positively by students.
  • There is an element of confusion about the distinctions between Purposeful Work and the Bates Career Development Center, and where to turn for support on a variety of matters.
  • As Purposeful Work emerges from its current design phase, the initiative needs a more visible and sustainable organizational structure.

Moving Forward

Based on your feedback, we look forward to the prospect of hiring a leader tasked with thinking creatively and resourcefully about how to build an appropriate organization to sustain and strengthen Bates’ distinctive approach to preparing students for life, work, and social contribution.

In the next several weeks, we will create a search committee for this position. In the meantime, please feel free to be in touch with me if you have questions.

All my best,