The Journey Continues

February 4, 2015 | by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs

When it comes to career planning, change may be the only constant.

No one knows this better than adult students navigating the transition from one stage of life to another. For those making a long-considered career change, or dealing with the loss of a job due to layoffs or simply returning to school to tackle new challenges, a unique program of the Niebuhr Center called The Journey Continues offers personal and professional guidance tailored for adult learners. The Journey Continues offers workshops, courses and service opportunities designed to help returning students—and adults who are starting college for the first time—explore callings and new professional avenues.

Indeed, employment statistics demonstrate that workers are now less likely to spend most of their lives with one employer or in one line of work than in the past. According to the Labor Department, the average person born in the later years of the mid-20th-century baby boom holds 10.5 different jobs between ages 18 and 40. A study by New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies showed that professionals expect to change careers at least three times in their lives. Only 28 percent said they expected to stay in one career for their entire lives.

The Journey Continues was established in 2006 to meet the unique professional-preparation needs of the growing numbers of adult students returning to college campuses or attending college for the first time. The program was developed by the Niebuhr Center, professor and former Niebuhr Center director Nancy Lee, Elmhurst Trustee the Rev. Bob Ullman ’71, former associate chaplain the Rev. Michelle Hughes and internship coordinator Louise Deske.

“We understand that each student is an individual and that each person’s dreams and aspirations are unique,” said Trudy Sulita ’12, the program’s coordinator at the Niebuhr Center. “Through experiential learning, workshops and one-on-one mentoring, we work with our students to help them achieve their goals and callings in life.”

Like traditional-age college students, participants in The Journey Continues may serve internships, enroll in international courses, service experiences and find career counseling, including instruction on resume-writing, networking and career exploration. But they also benefit from the program’s focus on the unique needs of adult learners.

Sulita, herself a former adult student, said participants in the program come from a wide variety of backgrounds and life situations.

“We help people of all ages, from recent graduates to retirees,” Sulita said. “We listen to them, we talk with them from a spiritual and holistic perspective and we help them get where they want to go.”

Last year, Sulita met with a student named Kathy who had enrolled at Elmhurst after her children had grown and gone out on their own. Kathy felt called to a new life of service to others, but wasn’t sure exactly what vocation was right for her. Then Sulita helped to arrange an internship for Kathy at the Night Ministry, a Chicago-based organization serving the poor and homeless.

“That internship helped her realize that she wanted to do work on the ground with people at risk,” Sulita said. Kathy is now pursuing a major in social work and continues to participate in The Journey Continues programs. In January, she will travel to Israel, Poland, Austria and Germany as part of a course on the Holocaust led by Professor Mary Kay Mulvaney.

The Journey Continues also serves Elmhurst alumni and members of the community exploring new professional paths. A fall workshop series led by human resources consultant John Newton focused on using interpersonal and marketing skills in personal and professional development. In-person and online participation in the workshops doubled over the course of the series. The Niebuhr Center is planning three additional presentations for the spring of 2015.

For more information about The Journey Continues, contact Trudy Sulita at (630) 617-3492 or at trudys@elmhurst.edu.

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