Placement and Career Planning at Barnard, October 1971, page 1

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          Placement and
Career Planning
at Barnard

The tremendous changes which have occurred for women over the past five years
have posed a challenge for those in placement and career planning. Fundaen-
tal questions are being raised about the needs, capabilities, and life styles
of American women. Vocational horizons are broadening. Yet the very breadth
of these new horizons is itself frightening for many young women who are not
ready to shed their traditional roles and embark on independent careers. We
have been forced to rethink pur program and to find new ways to help our

young women take themselves seriously, encourage them to pursue their interests
in a purposeful way, see that they are exposed to full information about fields
and opportunities, and finally help them implement their plans for their future.

The heart of our progra is indixidual career counseling. We explore
with a student or alumna her interests and needs and help her make long-
term vocational plans. We are keenly aware that many of our young women have
little confidence about the untried, have hesitations about venturing into
areas which they are not sure are open to women, and often have difficulty
in recognizing and dealing with discrimination. We understand how necessary
it is for us to help push back the barriers, to offer encouragement, and to
suggest the possibilities of new career choices. Where we used to be sym-
pathetic we now sometimes see the need to question, perhaps even to serve as
a goad; thus to a brilliant senior who wanted to shelve her plans for graduate
study to support her husband who has just received a fellowship, we asked,
"shouldn't she at least consider herself too?" To another senior who expressed
interest in a management training position in business we asked whether she
thought it valid to refuse to accept traveling responsibilities. On the other
hand it is often necessary to be particularly supportive, eggs to a studeflfi.
who wanted to be an architect but who was hesitant because a dean of admissions
of a graduate school in architecture questioned her motivation and an uncle
in the field told her women are never given good jobs,

About one half of our career counseling interviews are with alumnae, one-
third of whom have been out of college five years or more. Alumnae turn to us
for many different kinds of help, ranging from getting a promotion which is
long overdue, to finding a part-time job with a fresh PhD in physics, to con-
verting valuable volunteer community experience into a good, paid jobs The
tales of bitter frustration we hear from a growing number of our more recent
alumnae trapped in dead-end jobs, are indicative of the rising consciousness of
women and point up the need for specific help in finding suitable jobs and
understanding the new rights and legal responsibilities of women.

Assuming a responsibility to alumnae throughout their lives and under-
standing the discontinuities in woen's lives has meant that an important part
of our counseling interviews are with women seeking to return to work or to
prepare for a career after raising a family. These women need a special kind
of counseling, since many of them return with either unrealistic illusions or
else an equally se1f—defeating lack of confidence. They require patient enw
couragement and help in preparing for what is possible. It is gratifying
after several counseling interviews to see how many are able to find satisfying
jobs or to enroll in a demanding graduate or professional degree program.

In order to encourage students and alumnae to take advantage of the new
opportunities, we have come to place great emphasis on a number of other acti~
vities and resources. In addition to the usual vocational meetings on specific