With summer quickly approaching, it might be time for students to start thinking about how to utilize their breaks efficiently for their career goals. The Knowlton Center’s new five phase career planning strategy shows that summer is not the only time to be thinking about these sorts of things. In fact, it begins with the first year at Denison.

“I think students often feel that they can’t come into the career center until they have a plan and we always say, actually, come into the Knowlton Center whenever you don’t have a plan,” Kirsten Fox, the director of campus engagement in the Knowlton Center, said.

The five phases are awareness, exploration, experience, launch and reengage.

Awareness begins early, simply as an introduction between students and career coaches as a way to begin the discussion and brainstorming of career ideas.

Exploration puts that into action, engaging in networking and “first-look” trips, something that was piloted by the OnBoard Cohort, a group of first-years and sophomores that committed to a yearlong career preparatory experience, in their trip to Chicago over fall break. Firstlook trips include tours of companies and meeting with alumni to get an inside look at the professional world. The first one to be offered outside the OnBoard Cohort will be this coming May in Boston where students in that area can tour companies and make alumni connections locally.

The experience and launch phases are executed later in the Denison career, as students search for internships and then, as seniors, for careers, graduate school or preprofessional programs.

Reengage, then, is a way for students to start the process over again. For example, a student might take an internship that they thought they would really like but ended up hating. Then it would be time to move back through the first three phases in order to reevaluate career goals and put them into action.

These phases represent how the career center should be used at all stages of the process, from the beginning of students’ Denison careers, to even after graduation.

“They could graduate and decide they want to go down a different path and kinda come back to us, or they could graduate and then say, ‘Hey, I want to offer an internship,’ so we’re engaging them differently in that way,” Fox said.

While this may seem daunting to have to be conscious of the career center throughout one’s time at Denison, it is not as high-stakes as it sounds. Early on, it is all about letting the career coaches get to know the students, and for the students to get to learn about themselves.

Later on in students’ time at Denison, there are a variety of ways that students can get help from the career center, from skills building and workshops to pre-professional advice and application help.

While the five phases do not physically change the services that the Knowlton Center offers, it does change the way that people within and outside of the office perceive the career center.