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Belmont's Sprint to the First Destination




Boasting a first destination rate of 96%, 12% higher than the national average, Belmont prides itself on student success after graduation. 


The first destination rate represents the percentage of graduates who were employed, pursuing further education, or enlisted in the military within six months of graduation. 


For students of Belmont, this means some peace of mind as the transition into the workforce gets closer as each day passes.  


Whether it is professor support, student's own willingness to prepare for their future or help from the Office of Career and Professional Development, all the tools needed for job placement after graduation can be found at Belmont. 


The Office of Career and Professional Development is tasked with maintaining and raising the first destination rate at Belmont by preparing students to pursue their interests and developing career readiness skills. 


"Our goal is for every student to graduate with a career plan and to be career ready. Having a career plan and building career readiness skills is one of the key predictors for overall career mobility," said Gary Boling, associate director of the office of career and professional development. 


The College of Theology, now School of Theology and Christian Ministry, had itself a 100% first destination rate in 2021.


Yet even with that rate, Belmont students may still have concerns about finding a career.  


“There's still a fear that it's not right for me, I guess,” said Paris Bingham, a sophomore Biblical studies major. “Choosing college majors feels like such a big deal to decide so early.” 


That is where the Office of Career and Professional Development steps in. 


“Career planning is not a linear process. Landing that first professional position out of college and being content in that position takes a combination of knowing oneself, having a great education, gaining relevant experience and forming meaningful relationships along the way,” said Boling.  


Despite its commitment to serving students and alumni, many people aren’t aware of its services.  


"I never really heard about it before," Bingham said. "I'm spending a lot of money on my education by choosing to go to private university, out of state and everything. And so I need to know that what I'm choosing to spend on education is going to be worth it in some way. It has been very important to me to figure out a plan to know that this is going to be worth it."   


Luckily for Bingham and the rest of Belmont students, the Office of Career and Professional Development is a free resource to create connections in their industries and to identify opportunities down the road. 


“That is a great resource to know about because obviously, even for people that don't get jobs right after college, they could utilize that service and help them get more opportunities and more outreach in the community or elsewhere in the country,” said Ali Downs, a sophomore illustration major. “And I mean, even if later down the line you want to use your major in a different way, you could access that resource as well.” 


Though the office's services may be hidden from some, students believe that the connections between the faculty and peers are just as valuable as any professional coaching in the subject may be.  


“The professors are very invested in the students' lives,” Bingham said. “That's not something that you get anywhere.” 


Seeing past students succeed in the field of their dreams brings hope to students - especially to artists, who tend to have a lower job placement rate after graduation because of a lack of job stability.  


“There were several people that either had jobs working in galleries or art therapy. And before that, I knew what art therapy was, and I was interested but hearing that someone was graduating Belmont going into that specific field really, really just boosted my interest,” said Downs. 


With a first destination rate of 85%, the Watkins College of Art just nearly surpasses the national average by just 1%.  


“That makes me a little more hopeful. But at the same time, I know that I have to do a lot of the work on my own,” Downs said. 


Ultimately, it is neither the Office of Career and Professional Development, nor a student’s professors that will produce the job placement that most students hope for. 


"It's not going to just be handed to you,” Downs said. “You have to make good relationships with your professors and make good relationships with artists that come in to talk. You have to do the work within the community, yourself, like getting internships at galleries or museums. You have to be doing that in undergrad.” 


When the weight of their career prospects sometimes feels crushing, Boling and The Office of Career and Professional Development want students to know that the heavy lifting doesn’t need to be done alone.  


"We’re here if they need help. We serve graduates for life.” 

 

To learn more about the Office of Career and Professional Development, visit its office in the Jack C. Massey Center, Suite 214 or its website. 



This article was written by Zach Watkins. Contributing reporting by Abby Thomas

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