Photo courtesy of Calvin Lifework
For the 1,752 Calvin students participating, Calvin LifeWork (CLW) is a familiar program, but after this year the program will cease to offer the $3,000 scholarship given to those who complete all four years of the program. The scholarship will still be given to those who are already enrolled in CLW, but this year’s freshman class will be the last group to receive it.
Lifework is a program offered at Calvin through the Career Center which prepares students for life after college through assignments based on situations they may deal with in their careers. Each month, students are given a new module, each focused on a different subject in one of four content areas: vocation, career-readiness, financial literacy and life skills, and leadership. Some past modules have focused on subjects like graduate school, resumes and credit.
Additionally, each year of CLW has a different focus. The first year’s theme is “Discover” and has an emphasis on exploring different career options. The second year’s theme is “Equip” and focuses more on resume training and interviews. The third year’s theme is “Experience” and involves the students applying what they have learned to an internship. In the fourth and final year, the theme is “Launch.” The goal in this final year is to finish up the students’ resumes and send them off into the job market.
Some students prefer some modules over others. Junior Nate Walter explained, “I think some [modules] are more helpful than others … I like the practical ones.” These modules force students to do career-focused things that they may otherwise put off. According to Nate, the resume module in particular was quite helpful. “I didn’t have a good [resume] before that so having that module forced me to do it so that was somewhat useful.” He went on to say, “Some of the modules I don’t need so much but I like the practical ones.”
These modules also excite employers. According to TaRita Johnson, director of the Career Center, Calvin “hear[s] regularly from employers and donors who are elated about [LifeWork].” She said, “Employers desire to hire students who have this type of training — skill development that compliments academic curriculum.”
Although students often find the modules in CLW to be helpful, some admit they would not be participating in the program without the incentive of the scholarship. First-year Kara Aardema said that although she cares about the vocation aspect of CLW, her motivation for participating is “probably 70% financial.” Others, like sophomore Martin Vanderschoot, see the benefits beyond the scholarship. Vanderschoot explained that he would participate in CLW without the incentive because “the information [in the modules] is useful enough and it gets you thinking about important situations that you will encounter in the future.”
According to Johnson, “The mission of Calvin LifeWork is to assist students with discovering their calling and career path, preparing them to thrive as they launch into adult life.”
As Johnson explained, “The Calvin LifeWork scholarship assisted with jumpstarting the program, and now that we’re a few years into the program, we believe the program speaks for itself.” The university is now “pursue[ing] other tangible incentives that are more sustainable than the scholarship,” the money for which comes from Calvin’s financial aid budget.