Everyone’s higher education journey is a bit different. Some students know exactly what they want to major in when they head to college while others hope their first year of classes will help them decide what direction to take their studies. Some students have their hearts set on studying abroad in college while others would rather stay on campus and invest more time in student organizations or become resident advisors and mentors.
For Bailey Bushman, attending St. Norbert College in Wisconsin helped her see how much she cared about people showing up as their whole selves each and every day in all aspects of their lives.
Transitioning from a high school experience where she graduated with 18 peers to a college experience at a university with around 2,000 students was difficult for Bushman.
“I was scared of going to college and once I got there I struggled a little bit,” Bushman said. “It was very challenging academically and, as an only child, it was tough being away from home.”
Even though transitioning to college life was difficult at times, Bailey found a community at St. Norbert thanks to folks in the Leadership, Student Engagement, and First-Year Experience division who are very similar to people she works closely with today in her role as Assistant Director of Career Services at the University of Notre Dame.
Bushman said that these folks, who worked in and around the student engagement office at St. Norbert, asked her about who she wanted to be, why she wanted to do something, and how she wanted to make an impact. They pushed her to think outside of the box and to take her concerns and take action on behalf of the student community.
During an internship with the office of student engagement, where Bushman primarily worked with student organizations, she really felt pulled towards these sorts of initiatives. So much so that when she was studying abroad at one point she realized how much she missed her internship and the work she was doing.
“I loved putting on training and wanted to help other students become the people they wanted to be,” Bushman said. “Empowering others matters so much to me and between the ages of 18-22 is the time to empower people because people are open to new ideas.
This realization while studying abroad, plus the faculty and staff members who influenced her undergraduate experience, propelled Bailey into Bowling Green State University’s College Student Personnel program. In this program, Bushman received a great education that helped prepare her for her future roles in higher education.
At Notre Dame Undergraduate Career Services, Bailey is focused on advising and creating programming for students interested in management consulting. These students come from a variety of disciplines and Bushman is responsible for helping them think through why they want to go into management consulting as well as connecting them with opportunities to explore the field and eventually get their first job.
“My role is a blend of 1:1 student counseling and programming. I oversee the student-led initiative Consulting Connect that helps students understand recruiting for rigorous opportunities,” Bushman said. “ That is one of the best parts of the job. It is one thing to support students one on one but it is another to watch students work to support other students.”
Consulting Connect took off at the University of Notre Dame at the end of 2018 and currently has over 1,000 signed up as part of the organization. There are 10 student board members who oversee different aspects of the organization and make sure it runs smoothly.
“It was amazing to see the initiative my students took towards supporting other students in 2020,” Bushman said. “We are at the mercy of the employers and the job market was so disheartening. To see the students still step up and invest in other students and persevere through uncertainty was awesome. They showed unwavering commitment towards each other.”
Bushman hopes to show students through her advising and mentorship work that our professional life is not separate from our personal life in that both operate parallel to one another. Career services across colleges and universities are working to help students understand themselves as whole people so that they are best equipped to make the career, and personal, choices right for them.
“Our field used to be a lot more transactional/tangible and I like that we are moving away from that and focusing on the development of someone as a whole person,” Bushman said. “Personal development is so important in career services because who we are and why we are interested in something contributes to your professional identity.”
Bushman wants her students to feel supported and challenged, just like she felt when she was an undergraduate student.
“I want to connect students with mentors to support them and recognize how to support them through these pivotal years of their life,” Bushman said. “I want to make sure students have the tools, resources, and support to thrive in college and afterward.”
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