Junior Jumpstart expanding beyond pre-health students

Early registration deadline is approaching

| Staff Reporter

As students’ academic and career interests grow to be more diverse, Washington University has made upgrades to its career counseling program, Junior Jumpstart, in hopes of meeting students’ needs.

Junior Jumpstart is a one-day conference for third-year students to explore their career interests after final exams in May.

Through this program, students can meet with deans and advisers, interact with recent alumni and professionals in different fields, and attend informational sessions on a broad range of topics from creating a résumé to applying to medical school.

Back when dean Sarah Johnson founded this program more than 20 years ago, Junior Jumpstart was exclusively for pre-health students. For the last couple of years, however, this program has expanded to offer sessions and resources for those in engineering and art.

On the new engineering track, sessions will be given by deans, professionals, teachers and current graduate students to provide a full perspective on attending graduate school and getting a job after receiving a B.S. degree.

On the art track, students can attend presentations given by artists and designers; learn about strategies in evaluating and applying to Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs, residencies and fellowships; participate in a discussion with “creative community” professionals; and review portfolios with a professional.

While the additional engineering and art sessions mostly benefit students from those respective schools, they will also enable students interested in multiple disciplines to seek advice in one setting.

“In our day and age, students don’t like to be put in boxes,” said program coordinator Wilmetta Toliver-Diallo, a dean in the College of Arts & Sciences.

“You might be a student in the School of Engineering, but you might want to go and get a Ph.D. in physics. You might be a mathematics student who wants to go to graduate school in engineering,” Diallo said. “Having all the schools there and helping us offer very diverse programs is best for all the students.”

Similarly, Junior Jumpstart’s diverse tracks enables students to combine their interests in one area with those in other fields.

“Because of the diversity of the sessions, art students can structure their own day, which may include a portfolio review, but also, say, a workshop on writing a personal statement or a session on applying to law school,” said Jennifer Meyer, a career adviser to art students at the Career Center.

In addition to adding new tracks, the program coordinators have also expanded the scopes of current tracks. For example, the pre-health track now emphasizes options beyond attending medical school and becoming a doctor for those interested in health care.

To inform students of the various careers in health care, the pre-health track will host a new session in which professionals such as doctors, social workers and genetic counselors collaborate together to interact with patients.

The program coordinators strongly endorse this more flexible and comprehensive philosophy on health care because students should be able to find careers that best suit their interests.

“Our students’ happiness once they get into their desired field and build a career is what we are really reaching for. We are hoping to connect students to their individual passions,” said Liz Drury, a public service coordinator involved in the planning of the pre-health track.

Overall, the program coordinators are very excited about the opportunities that Junior Jumpstart will offer to students.

“I’m really excited to help put on a program that can lift people out of those mid-college blues and get them ready for senior year and whatever comes beyond,” said John Menze, a junior representative from the engineering school who helps to plan Junior Jumpstart.

“It [takes place] the day after finals, so people are usually a bit tired, but people find that they get all the information they need in one day,” Toliver-Diallo said. “It is really a way to jump-start the summer.”

While some students have a clear vision of what career they want to pursue, others still are uncertain about their future directions. In either case, coordinators of Junior Jumpstart strongly encourage all students to attend the program.

“Expand your mind.  Come to Junior Jumpstart to see what else is out there,” Osborn said. “If you are decided on a job after graduation, great; join in to see what info you can get to help make that option a reality. If you are unsure what your path will be, come and get ideas to make your senior year a productive one.”’

Students can register for Junior Jumpstart online. Early registration (before March 31) costs $45, regular registration (April 1 – April 30) costs $65 and walk-in/late registration (on May 13 only) costs $85.

Still have unanswered questions? Contact Dean Wilmetta Toliver-Diallo at juniorjumpstart@wustl.edu.