More Than a Job Board

Written by Whitney Shoun, M.S., Career Development Coordinator

In 2023, potential college students and their parents alike are asking institutions, and themselves, a very important question: “Is higher education worth it?” Students and their parents want to know that they will see a return on their investment, measured by one crucial metric: a better life for the graduate. But what is a “better life? How exactly does one attain that “better life?” And how do we quantify and qualify what a “better life” is from person to person?

Here at Bushnell University, we believe that the definition of a “better life” is as unique as each student who sets foot on our campus. During their time at Bushnell, our goal is to coach students in cultivating a deeper understanding of what they value, who they were designed to be, and where they find meaning in the world of work.

To achieve this, we have developed an approach to career development for our students that we call the Purposeful Graduate Model. It consists of five stages: Purpose, Participate, Prepare, Plan, and Pursue. Each stage incorporates specific activities and events designed to cultivate a better understanding of vocation and calling for our students. From a structured class to athletic participation to a formal internship, these diverse opportunities allow students to explore and identify who God uniquely designed them to be.


The foundation to becoming a purposeful graduate is understanding individual purpose or passion as it relates to life and career. The Purpose stage is the foundation of character and calling. It is continuous and ongoing, as students ask “the big questions” about who they are, who they want to become, and the contributions they want to make in the world.

One of the key elements of the Purpose stage is participation in First Year Seminar (FYS) classes, where students have an opportunity to complete the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment. This assessment provides students with their top five “Strengths” to consider as they transition out of high school and begin their collegiate experience.


Often associated with the first year of college, the theme of the Participate stage is engage and explore. Bushnell highly encourages students to try new things, step out of their comfort zone, and get involved in athletics, campus activities, and leadership opportunities. By participating in these ways, students can “test drive” or “try on” skills and abilities that help them connect with their calling and enhance their career development.

One crucial aspect of Participate is self-exploration, or learning how one is uniquely wired and designed. In addition to the StrengthsFinder, the Career Development Office at Bushnell offers a variety of assessments to facilitate the self-exploration process. By taking an assessment and discussing the results with a career development professional, students can identify majors and career options that best align with their unique combination of strengths, preferences, skills, interests, and values. Such alignment is linked to increased job satisfaction, motivation, and productivity. Even if students already have a sense of what God is calling them to do, a career conversation with the career development staff can help them develop a strong plan for fulfilling it.


The major components of the Prepare stage are research and reflection. In this stage, we advise students to gather information about potential career pathways by accessing online resources and interacting with professionals in the industries that interest them. Reflecting on the information they gather leads them to make an informed decision about their major and career goals. Reflection questions associated with the Prepare stage include: What can I do with this major? What are my career options? What do I need to be successful in this career? How do I know if it will be a good fit?

The world of work is full of possibilities. By researching various majors and occupations, students can select one that best fits them. Occupational information helps them know what to expect in relation to educational requirements, job stability, day-to-day functions, and salary and wages. Students may also find it beneficial to have a career conversation at this stage, as well. Career coaching sessions are available to all current students at Bushnell, regardless of major or location (online or residential).


In the Plan stage, students decide and develop. Typically, students in this stage decide what direction they want to go with their major and begin to explore internship possibilities. In addition, they may determine whether to pursue graduate school or full-time employment post-graduation. Throughout this stage, students develop a resume and cover letter and begin to build interviewing and networking skills in order to secure an internship.

Internships are a hallmark of Bushnell’s curriculum. Every bachelor’s degree in the traditional undergraduate program includes a field experience component or an internship. Internships are designed to prepare students for a career in their chosen field by integrating academic coursework with practical application. It is also an opportunity for students to acquire knowledge, refine skills and abilities, obtain valuable work experience, and expand their professional network. The University partners with companies and organizations in the local community to provide quality internship experiences that equip our students to be competitive in their chosen field.


In the Pursue stage, students execute and evaluate the plans they have developed through the previous stage. Often this stage includes completing an internship experience, applying to graduate schools, and/or launching a job search. Bushnell students have access to Handshake, an online job search platform that connects them with hundreds of internships and job opportunities – locally, nationally, and internationally.

For some, graduate school is a natural next step to achieving career aspirations. The career development office offers resources and assistance in identifying programs of study, preparing for tests, writing essays, and practicing for interviews. If an advanced degree is part of a student’s career development, we want to help him or her get there successfully

Success in securing employment involves customized and targeted materials that showcase a person’s accomplishments. One size does not fit all when it comes to resumes and cover letters. Career specialists provide students with job search tips and strategies for how to present their qualifications effectively and confidently – online, on paper, and in person. Students may also choose to connect with potential employers through signature events like networking nights, career fairs, and Mock Interview Day.

“You can’t overestimate the importance of mock interviews. I have heard from employers around the area that the students who have regularly participated in the interviews have been outstanding when the real interview happens. These experiences give you the chance to understand the rhythm and flow of questions and how to best represent yourself.”

  – Christy Silverthorne, M.A., Assistant Professor of Marketing

At Bushnell, the answer to the question that students and their parents are asking is a resounding YES. Higher education is worth it. A thoughtful educational experience prepares students for the world of professional employment, intentionally moving them through each stage of a healthy career development journey towards becoming a Purposeful Graduate.

85% of Bushnell graduates work in their field of study or attend graduate school within six months of receiving their diploma.

The Purposeful Graduate Model

Related Posts