During Winter Break, Wellesley Career Education Retreat Helps Sophomores Plan for the Future

Students work on an assignment
January 24, 2019

One afternoon during the final week of winter break, a group of about 30 sophomores scattered across the living room in McAfee Hall, participating in an exercise called Value Cards Sort. Each student received a stack of cards printed with words like “compassion,” “advocacy,” and “authentic,” and ranked them according to their importance to her. 

The activity was one of several the students participated in during the Luminare Retreat, a four-day program sponsored by Wellesley Career Education that helped them answer this question: What do you want to do after you graduate?

Emily Pearson ’20, who attended Luminare last year, said Value Cards Sort helped her determine her career values. “I learned that I wanted to have an impact and serve others,” said Pearson, a political science major who plans to pursue a career in public service or higher education. She returned to Luminare this year as a student leader. “Before, I had never thought about my career decision in terms of values.”

Luminare, which takes place the Tuesday to Friday before the spring semester begins, includes a full schedule of community talks with Career Education staff, small-group reflections, panels with Wellesley alumnae, and wellness sessions that included stretching exercises and guided meditation.

Scott Mannion, program director for the College Career Mentors, said the retreat helps students develop confidence and insight into their personal motivations as they consider what careers to pursue.

“Ultimately this will help students feel more confident making career decisions,” said Mannion. “There is a certain amount of uncertainty and ambiguity that is a part of career planning.”

Mannion said winter break is an ideal time for the retreat as students aren’t busy with classes. “A retreat is space for students to learn more about themselves, their skills, their interests, their values, and their expectations about career development. Career planning is not a linear process,” he said. “Students have to be adaptable and agile enough to adjust to what employers are looking for, so its valuable for them to know themselves.”

Pearson said she came away from the retreat last year inspired to become a house president in Tower Court, and she will serve in the same position at Claflin Hall next year. “Serving as house president is along the lines of my interests, so these were perfect opportunities,” she said.