The brainchild of Associate Dean of Students and Interim Director of the Career Development Center Dana Hamdan, the Sophomore Opportunities and Advising Resources program is one of the most exciting things to come to fruition at Oberlin this year. When Dana called me into her office to discuss the then-unnamed initiative, I had the same thought as when I first learned about the Peer Advising Leaders Program: “I wish I had had this!”
There are some challenging parts of my college experience I would never want to redo (Intro to Computer Programming and off-season lifting with former Strength and Conditioning Coach Grant Butler included), but if I had the opportunity to go back and enroll in SOAR, I would do so in a heartbeat. SOAR will provide invaluable institutional support for students both with and without a declared major, to support their personal development and network growth.
Collaborating with faculty, professional staff, and a SOAR student leader, selected sophomores will have the opportunity to think critically about the courses they’re taking for their major, courses that will supplement their major, their extracurricular and co-curricular involvements, and networking. They will also develop their résumé, identify beneficial internships, and refine job applications.
Sophomores will meet with their SOAR leaders intermittently throughout the spring semester to check in on their progress following the February workshops, and to ensure that students are feeling prepared and confident for summer opportunities and more.
As a senior contemplating my life post-Oberlin, I find myself skirting around the question, “What are you doing next year?” but simultaneously thankful for the network I have been able to build over my four years here. Creating a network can radically change access to opportunities and help students understand what they are capable of doing — and SOAR is attempting to institutionalize access to those exact kind of connections.
The beauty of a liberal arts education at Oberlin is that we have the ability to combine interests and constantly explore and try new things, giving us flexibility in the workforce. This plethora of options is both intimidating and exhilarating. Being able to look to an older student who has dabbled in and taken advantage of opportunities here at the College is unbelievably helpful. I’m thankful for individuals like Megan Cox, OC ’18, and Emma Eisenberg, OC ’17, who filled similar roles for me by encouraging me to apply for internships and other opportunities and connecting me to their networks to prepare me to make Winter Term and post-graduation plans.
Calling upon the professional development skills we can all use more of, SOAR combines peer-to-peer mentoring with faculty mentorship and advising. Regardless of how we feel about the bread email Dana sent out this week, the SOAR program is something you do not want to miss out on.