The Boerigter Center for Calling and Career at Hope College has been named a Program of Distinction by Colleges of Distinction.

As it notes on its website, Colleges of Distinction bestows the recognition on programs that have a “superior ability to think ahead about how their students will succeed after they graduate.”  Criteria for selection include providing integrated career exploration across a student’s entire time at college; accessible programs and training; a career-center staff; assessments to help students clarify their skills, interests and career goals; and strong employer relations that include involving alumni and also helping alumni.

“Institutions with a Career Development badge are in tune with the ever-changing job market and prepare students to meet demands through one-on-one counseling to search for a job; résumé, cover letter, and interview assistance to apply to a job; and comprehensive access to internships and other real-world experiences to prepare for a job,” the site explains.  “Our Career Development Colleges of Distinction do not just have a career services office on campus; they integrate future careers into the present curriculum.”

Hope’s Boerigter Center for Calling and Career is a college-wide initiative that seeks to inspire students to engage in lifelong practices of career development by emphasizing discernment, preparation and pursuit.  Programming for the Boerigter Center is designed to enable all Hope students, beginning in their first semester, to understand their strengths, engage in experiences that directly connect to career preparation, discern vocational and life goals, and ascertain clear next steps toward their future.  Integrated into the academic program of the college, it includes and expands on the work of Hope’s former Career Development Center in combination with staff from the college’s academic advising and alumni and family engagement programs.

“I am grateful for this honor from Colleges of Distinction,” said Shonn Colbrunn, the center’s executive director.  “Since we opened our doors in the fall of 2018, we’ve been working hard to build best-in-class programs. This recognition affirms that we are doing the right things and making a difference for our students.”

The center provides guidance and opportunities for career exploration throughout students’ years at Hope.  In their first year, students take assessments to help them better understand their strengths and interests, and gain information about academic majors and careers related to those strengths and interests.  As sophomores, they declare a major and can pursue internships in their fields of interest, a process that continues the next year. The junior year focuses on networking and interview preparation and practice, with the senior year emphasizing the job search or graduate-school planning.

Hope alumni play essential roles in the center’s work, providing students with career-exploration and internship opportunities, and serving as networking resources and potentially as employers.  The center in turn serves as a resource not only for current students but alumni who are themselves engaged in the job search.

The Boerigter Center for Career and Calling, which opened in the fall of 2018, was made possible by a major gift from SoundOff Signal in honor of founder and chairman George Boerigter, who is a 1961 Hope College graduate, and his wife, Sibilla. Based in Hudsonville, SoundOff Signal provides high-tech safety lighting solutions across the globe.