GPP Pushes Professionalism

Casey Saylor, Reporter

Just like an A in a class, students are not given the Guaranteed Placement Program’s paid intern- ship guarantee simply because they pay tuition, according to Carolyn Yencharis Corcoran, Assistant Director of the Insalaco Center for Career Development. Students who join GPP in 2013 and after have to complete anew requirement: a Job Search Workshop, which developed from the awareness that “a lot of senior students couldn’t conduct a job search,” according to Yencharis Corcoran.

Other than this, the format of the 2013 GPP curriculum looks the same as when it began in 1999, despite monumental changes in the “real world” job market and professional fields. Yencharis Corcoran said tuition includes the Career Center services, but GPP is a Miseri- cordia-exclusive bonus in which students must earn their places by attending workshops and making deadlines.

“I don’t think any [other] schools offer something like this,” Yencharis Corcoran said.

The program allows students to learn skills in professionalism little-by-little throughout their four years of college.

“We don’t tell you what to do. We are teaching you a process,” said Yencharis Corcoran. “Career development takes a while.”

GPP encourages students to start focusing on their careers during their first year.

“It [career development] should be on their minds early in the college process,” said Yencharis Corcoran. “It’s the entire reason they are on this campus.”

Senior nursing major Kayla Zechman is an active participant in GPP and has many good things to say about the program. “[The workshops] are more up-to-date than books and the Internet,” she said, and not only do they have the most up-to-date methods for resume writing, but you can even use the workshop-completion certificates on your resume.

Zechman stresses the importance of an ongoing Student Leadership Transcript, which is the topic of the first GPP workshop. “You need it to apply for scholarships or awards,” Zechman said. “It is best to have it started before you need it than to [have to] start it when you need it.”

However, Yencharis Corcoran said that ongoing projects like the student leadership transcript prove troublesome for some students.

“There are things that we cover freshman year…[like the] student leadership transcript… it becomes a self-directing thing, and many times students don’t do that,” said Yencharis Corcoran. “Stu- dents who do are in great shape; students who don’t run into some troubles.”

There are between 500 to 1,000 students in the GPP program at any given time. The last two first year classes have provided the largest incoming numbers, with this year’s students providing even more interest than last year’s.

First year undeclared major Devin Crevani signed up for GPP after Yencharis Corcoran made a presentation to his FYE class.

“The workshops seem helpful.” Crevani said. “If they end up not being helpful, I can always drop out.”

GPP expects professional behavior from students from the start of their college career. This includes signing the GPP Contract first semester of the first year and then completing requirements, making appointments and satisfying strict deadlines.

However, the rigorous requirements may sometimes make a student “ineligible” and be dropped from the program.

For example, if a student completes an undergraduate degree in more than four years, or the occupational therapy of speech/language pathology program in more than five years, they are ineligible. If the student fails to graduate with a minimum 3.0 GPA, they get dropped – and students who fail to report a scheduling conflict by the deadline or miss a work- shop for an unexcused reason are no longer eligible to complete the regular program.

Excused absences, however, if reported prior to the event, will be forgiven, allowing the student to make arrangements to make up the missed work at a later date.

For those of us who have trouble adhering to deadlines, there is the GPP Levels program.

As the GPP Parents Manual says, “GPP Levels is for transfer students who are seeking a guided, semester-by-semester career development plan… [And] it is also for students who started out in the regular GPP program… but missed one or two requirements.”

GPP Levels gives the student more flexibility with “recommended deadlines” and includes fewer required workshops, and although the program’s graduates don’t receive the internship guarantee, they do get a nice certificate, pin and professional pen set.

Students are free to use any GPP workshops or services at any time during the semester, regardless of whether or not they are in a GPP program. So if they really can’t handle deadlines and commitment makes them queasy, they could at least stumble into self-improvement by attending at least one of the 55 professional skills workshops hosted by the GPP each year.

However, Yencharis Corcoran said that the program is “not that crazy.”

As most students can attest, students attend college with the ultimate intent of becoming professionals and getting a job. “If I could create that perfect profes- sional, I would [personally] add more requirements,” said Yencha- ris Corcoran. And even though the program has barely changed since its inception in 1999, Yencharis Corcoran said, “[The program] could always be better.”

Statistically, the number of students who successfully partake in GPP from first year to graduation drops almost by half every year. The majority of these losses are from students who dropped out of the program or failed to attend workshops.

In spite of this, the number of students who graduate from the GPP program has increased since Yencharis Corcoran started with GPP in 2008. “I don’t know why,” said Yencharis Corcoran. “It’s not us; it’s the students. Maybe students have been more ambitious or focused coming into Misericordia.”

But Yencharis Corcoran assures that if students do find value in the program, they won’t be wasting their time.

“The students who actually make it to the end have completed a real accomplishment.”

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