Jennifer Saffert from the class of ’08 would never have guessed during her college years that some of the most rewarding words she would hear during her job would come from the mouth of a five- year-old.
Specifically, the CSB alumna could not have guessed that this young student would have such a deep impact on her. “Miss Jenn,” the young boy said, “Since I started reading with you, I really like school.”
Saffert is one of hundreds of tutors across the state of Minnesota that work in the Minnesota Reading Corps, one of the largest AmeriCorps programs, working to promote state literacy and help children become successful readers by third grade.
“We tutor one-on-one every day and try to help kids that are behind on reading,” Saffert said. “At this point, they are learning to read, not reading to learn.”
In an increasingly competitive job market, many CSB/SJU students are turning to alternative occupations or activities in an attempt to make themselves more desirable to employers. Many different options, like the Minnesota Reading Corps, are available to students who are graduating.
“For some students, an option after graduation may be pursuing a graduate program,” Associate Director of Career Services Mary Harlander-Locke said. “For others, it might be pursuing a volunteering opportunity such as the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps.”
According to a survey by Career Services, 8 percent of 2009 CSB alumnae were pursuing volunteering or service-related work. Approximately 72 percent were working in a full-time occupation. Alumni like Saffert say students should consider volunteering as a viable option to pursue after graduation.
“As a Bennie or a Johnnie, we are really big into service,” Saffert said. “Children really are the future, and they appreciate having a role model that they may not have at home.”
The Minnesota Reading Corps, for example, is hiring hundreds of college graduates to a position that is more than just a job, but also a type of community service.
Saffert is also pursuing her teaching license as a student teacher at CSB during March and April.
“It’s a great opportunity for a college student if he or she aren’t really sure about what they want to do,” Saffert said. “And it’s great, I feel like I’m making a difference every day.”
Saffert said CSB/SJU was essential in giving her the ability to volunteer and allowing her to be a student teacher.
If students wish to pursue a volunteering opportunity after graduation, the same amount of preparation done for a full time position is still needed.
“Students should be active,” Harlander-Locke said.
According to Harlander-Locke, the job preparation strategy that CSB/SJU students miss the most is being active and developing related experiences, such as intern- ships or campus jobs.
“Students need to do more to get involved and developing their network,” she said.
Today’s job market is high-stress and very competitive, and recently graduated students like Saffert who have found other employment and volunteering opportunities offer fresh advice and comforting words to those worried about what to do after commencement.
“You don’t need to seek a degree in education or something similar to do this job,” Saffert said. “A posi- tion like this is really a great way to build your resume, and you feel like you are giving back.”