BYU offers new course on career exploration for women

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BYU promotes a new class focused on helping female students discover fulfilling career paths. (Melissa Jones)

In Winter of 2016 BYU will be offering a new version of STDEV 117, Career Exploration, focusing on women in careers. All are invited to participate. The classes include Women and Careers Lecture Series, a 1 credit class, and Women’s Issues in Career Exploration, a 2 credit class.

These classes will provide female students the opportunity to learn from other women who are already working in careers. The Lecture Series is attendance based and will include daily guests speakers covering a variety of occupations from business women to teacher, and lawyer to artist. Each section will also provide 30 to 40 open seats intended for any students who do not wish to take the class but are interested in hearing one guest speakers presentation.

The main goal of the course is to empower women to be prepared for the future. The teachers said they hope to open women’s eyes to the possibilities their futures can hold, whether it be becoming a CEO of a company, a stay at home mom or working part time.

BYU adjunct clinical professor Melissa Jones will be teaching the course. She has taught the career exploration class for many years and said she is interested in creating this new curriculum after passing through the same difficulties of deciding upon work or family during her time at BYU.

“When I was at BYU I knew I had a passion in pursuing a career but also wanted a family,” Jones said. “I looked for people who were doing both so I could get an overlay and I couldn’t find it. I want students to have a way to provide for their families in a way that’s fulfilling for them, whether it be as a mom, a working women, or both.”

Jones, a mother of four boys, said she tries to be an example of how balancing work and parenting is possible. Her husband works full time. Jones was able to find a job which was flexible to her time schedule so she did not have to sacrifice time with family or her “passion” for her career.

“As a working mother myself I worked to achieve a great balance in my life,” Jones said. “I have great empathy for students who are struggling with this whole thing [trying to find balance]. Many even begin to wonder if it is wrong for them to have career minded goals.”

Cheryl Garn, a psychology intern for the Counseling and Career Center, will also be assisting with the new course and said she is enthusiastic for the guidance the course will give to confused students.

“I am very interested in supporting women as they explore options and interests in both career and family,” Garn said. “It can be difficult to navigate all of the issues and concerns surrounding both areas, and I think it can be helpful to provide a space and various perspectives to assist each woman as she figures this out for herself.”

The course is new and many are not aware of the new change and possible option according to Garn. The course provides examples of various career options for newer students who do not know which major path to follow. Unsure students stated that such courses would allow a greater view at the bigger picture.From there they will be better able “to get on their feet and understand the importance of their education,” said Sarah Sturt, an undergraduate student at BYU.

“I’m just as happy if women are stay at home moms or a CEO, if that’s what they choose and that’s what makes them happy,” Jones said.

The classes will become available in winter of 2016 and will be held once a week.

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