Winnipeg, March 3, 2021 – Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) celebrated the launch of its newest initiative, the Centre for Career and Vocation, as work-integrated learning month kicked off across Canada on March 1.
The Centre for Career and Vocation’s mission is “to equip members of the CMU community to purposefully connect calling, courses, and career through curriculum-integrated academic and vocational advising, experiential and work-integrated learning, and encouraging interdisciplinary exploration and creativity.”
The centre is funded by the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE), a North American network of colleges and universities that offers grant funding, resources, and support to enrich the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation among undergraduate students. CMU is the first Canadian post-secondary institution to become a member of NetVUE.
The Centre for Career and Vocation brings together three areas: career development and vocational discernment; practicum/work-integrated learning; and vocation-centred advising and curriculum. In terms of student support, it will provide students with career advising and resources through individual appointments, workshops, and peer coaching, as well as offer for-credit courses in career development. Additionally, the centre will work to support faculty and staff to develop a common framework for vocational advising and curriculum development. All these activities will be supported through ongoing research to enhance programming.
The work-integrated learning, or practicum, program has always been integral to CMU, which is the only school in Canada that requires all its undergraduate students to complete a work-integrated learning placement in order to graduate. It is these opportunities that help students weave together their learning in the classroom with their interests outside of it.
Even so, the Centre for Career and Vocation is a ground-breaking venture that fills an important gap at CMU. It provides a centralized location for information and increases the visibility of the practicum program within the university, helping it grow and become even stronger.
At the helm of the operation is Dr. Christine Kampen Robinson, Director of the Centre for Career and Vocation and CMU’s Director of Practicum. She comes to the project with extensive experience working in career advising and transition programming for students at other universities, as well as teaching and helping to coordinate practica at CMU over the last couple years.
“I love career advising work,” she says. “Anytime I talk to people about ‘career,’ I’m really talking about who people are and who they want to be, what they care about and what kinds of problems they want to help solve.”
The centre’s work is carried out by a strong support team. Renee Willms, Practicum Coordinator, brings significant experience in developing meaningful experiential learning and development experiences for students through CMU’s Outtatown program. Three student Program Assistants, Katrina Lengsavath, Kayden Brown, and Sabrina Shaw, support communications, peer coaching, and research initiatives respectively. Direction and support are further provided by the Student Advising and Vocational Development Committee made up of CMU faculty and staff.
Kampen Robinson is passionate about working towards equity, a priority that is visible in the Centre for Career and Vocation’s equity commitment. The Centre aims “to interrupt the inequities in academic and Canadian employment contexts by creating an anti-racist, queer-positive, empowering community of support that recognizes the unique stories and calling of each person.” It is doing this through developing partnerships, working to provide funding for work-integrated learning opportunities, ongoing advocacy, and consistent education and interrogation of its own practices.