Monday, October 20, 2014

Year Up Check-In: Young Philadelphians Going Against the Grain

Young Philadelphians dressed in corporate attire – almost oxymoronic given pop culture fashion and high rates of unemployment amongst this group.  Yet, if you are at Peirce during the day you will see 50 young adults dressed to the proverbial nines. They are participants in Year Up, striving to ascend from a mere job (or joblessness) to a career pathway in just one year.

Year Up students dressed to the nines
Year Up is a non-profit organization, founded in Boston. Since, 2000, Year Up has served more than 10,000 young adults in 12 urban centers across the country. Philadelphia, its 12th city, joins Baltimore, Miami, New York, Chicago and Puget Sound to name a few.

Year Up students taking a Selfie with Founder Gerald Chertavian
Year Up’s mission is to close the Opportunity Divide. That is, to connect young low income adults to entry level career opportunities in the corporate sector. Millions of young adults in the US have talent and motivation, but lack opportunity. At the same time, companies have opportunities available, but lack the talent they need to succeed. In response, Year Up provides its participants the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education.

Mission aligned, Year Up and Peirce forged a partnership and launched in the fall term of 2013 with 21 students in its inaugural class. Year Up and Peirce enroll students every 6 months, in the fall and spring terms. Year Up has doubled in size, serving 51 students this fall and expects at least as many in spring, 2015.

51 members of class 3 during orientation August
Year Up is a one year intensive training program. The first half of the year is called the Learning and Development phase. During this time, Peirce provides hard skills training through introductory level IT coursework. Concurrently, Year Up staff spends 13 hours per week with students on soft skills: professional communication, dress and disposition. On Mondays, the program team delivers a course called Pro-skills that builds upon and expands Peirce’s PRC100 course. On Thursday’s there are one-on-one and small group coaching sessions. Fridays, affectionately called Friday Feedback, includes guest speakers, team building activities and a formal, peer-to-peer exchange of feedback on professional behaviors.  On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Year Up students are engaged in Peirce coursework.
“you have got to get comfortable being uncomfortable”, says Annie Subah, member of the very first class at Peirce, reflecting on the advice of her Year Up Mentor.“
Year Up staff member, Stefanie Cuadrado facilitating a team work excercise
After one term at Peirce, students spend six months working 35 hours per week at a large company. This year, Year Up students have interned at Comcast, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, University of Pennsylvania, and Gilbane. Students are placed with a manger within a range of departments like Cyber Security, Quality Assurance, Help Desk Support and HR Operations.
John Ropas, the Managing Director at JPMorgan Chase (JPMC), Wilmington has been a long standing supporter of Year Up from his work with JPMC in New York City. He understands how important it is to cultivate young talent

 “…these Young adults are our future, we need to give them the tools they need to be successful.”

After completing Year Up, students will have earned up to 21 college credits and will be able to tout substantive work experience on their resumes. Having expanded their networks, Year Up students come away with recommendations from experienced professionals at reputable corporations. However, the ultimate goal is for students to be gainfully employed within four months of completing the year-long program.

In the best case scenario, Year Up students are retained by their internship employer. Indeed this was the case for eight of thirteen students who completed the program this past July. Five Year Up students now work at Comcast and three students were retained at JPMC. After the program ends, Year Up staff assists its graduates in leveraging their experience. Ten of thirteen students are working in professional track entry level jobs at an average hourly wage of 18/hour. Moreover, 100% of the first class of students have re-matriculated into Peirce to move toward the completion of their Associates Degree.  The outcomes of Year Up and Peirce’s inaugural class exceed Year Up national standards: 85% working or in school full time with hourly wages of $16/hour.

A hand up is not a handout, Year Up seeks to hoist young people from poverty to a career by providing access to opportunity. Angel Ponce of class one, who recently landed a job at USLI, plans to make good on his opportunity.

“As long as I preserve and I work hard, I can do it. It’s a matter of how hard I work that puts me that much closer to where I want to be”

Year Up and Peirce, embarking on year two, are seeking 50 – 60 students in the spring term. To be eligible for Year Up students must meet the following criterian:
  • Pell and PHEAA
  • High School Diploma or GED
  • 18 – 24 years of age
  • Eligible to work in the United States
  • Must NOT have obtained AA degree already (fewer than 30 college credits preferred)
To apply to Year Up, complete an interest form on line, call the recruitment manager, Craig Smith at 215.670.9394, and visit the Year Up office in Alumni Hall. Dress to impress!

Friday, October 17, 2014

New Scholarship Opportunity for Aspiring Paralegals

Paralegal students, here is an amazing opportunity to earn a $2000 scholarship while honoring a local pioneer in the paralegal profession who recently passed away.

The Mary L. Creekmore Memorial Scholarship is a $2,000 award given through the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals to a paralegal student who shares Mary’s vision for the profession. The mission of the scholarship is to “preserve and foster the ideals of Mary L. Creekmore by supporting the paralegal profession and individuals who aspire to the profession who share like-minded ethics, values and interests.” She created the scholarship a few months before her passing as a way to benefit the next generation of paralegals.

Mary was a very dedicated member of the paralegal profession and spent much of her career advocating on its behalf. In addition to serving as president of the Philadelphia Association of paralegals, she also taught Professional Responsibility and Ethics to paralegal students. On a national level, she served as a delegate and Ethics and Professional Responsibilities Coordinator to the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA).

All students demonstrating academic excellence while enrolled in a paralegal studies program within the Delaware Valley area are eligible.

To be considered, students must submit an essay on the following topic:
The theme of the 2014 PAP Education Conference was “The Ethical Paralegal.” Explain what it means to be an ethical paralegal. Please provide examples of ethical dilemmas and how you, as a working paralegal, would handle these situations.

If you’re interested, the full application and further details can be found here. All submissions must be postmarked by Friday, November 28, 2014. Winners will be selected by the PAP Professional Development committee and awarded at the Association’s quarterly luncheon in January 2015.

 Mary was dedicated to the profession and a driving force for the evolution that has taken place in the paralegal profession.  This scholarship is a wonderful memorial to a wonderful person. We’d love to see a Peirce student win the scholarship and continue to advance the paralegal profession the way Mary intended.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Graduate Student Association Welcomes 2014-2015 Executive Board Members

We’re excited to announce the launch of the Graduate Student Association (GSA) and welcome the newly elected Executive Board members!  The GSA is the student governing body for Peirce College students enrolled in the graduate program. It serves as an additional support system for students and advocates to help further the interests of graduate students. In addition, the GSA will host various events for graduate students and the Peirce community as a whole including guest speakers, workshops for APA, civic engagement opportunities, networking opportunities, and more.

The GSA is governed by a student-elected Executive Board and a faculty advisor representing Peirce College. Graduate students voted for the current board via electronic ballot the week of September 29th. The 2014-2015 GSA board members were announced on October 5th, its board members are:

  • President - Steven Amster
  • Vice President - Karl Fritz
  • Secretary/Treasurer - John Morris
  • Programs Coordinator - Alyssa Dorney
  • Student Senators - Beverly Diggins and Mary Grassia
If you’re enrolled in the Peirce College graduate program you’ve already been granted membership to GSA.  Although it’s too late to run for a board position this year, graduate students are encouraged to stay involved with GSA. There will be a variety of volunteer opportunities, including at events, and a general meeting for all students once per term. If you’d like to learn more about the GSA and how you can be involved, please email me.

Congratulations on the launch of GSA and to the 2014-2015 GSA Executive Board members!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A History of U.S. Presidents at Peirce College

Last month PBS aired the Ken Burns’ series The Roosevelts, which documents the lives of the famous political family. Though it wasn’t mentioned on the show, there’s a Peirce connection to the family.  Teddy Roosevelt spoke at our commencement ceremonies twice; first in 1896, when he was the Police Commissioner of New York City, and again in 1918 as a former President. His 1918 speech was focused on US entry in the First World War. He urged graduates to “pay taxes cheerfully” and conserve food and energy at home to aid in the war effort.  “Teddy” was a critic of the Wilson Administration, believing they hadn’t done enough to prepare for the war, and he used part of the speech to express his criticisms. Perhaps to achieve balance, Wilson’s Vice President Thomas R. Marshall was the commencement speaker the following year.

Roosevelt was not the only former President to address Peirce graduates. Benjamin Harrison was the first person to address the college as a former President in 1893, with an address focused on labor issues. Grover Cleveland spoke to the Class of 1900, and Howard Taft addressed the graduates of 1913. Taft’s January 1913 speech took place just a few months after losing the Election of 1912 to Woodrow Wilson, and a number of local and national dignitaries attended the commencement. The city even held a parade in his honor on Broad Street, and he addressed a crowd in front of the Union League.

 Not every person asked to speak at commencement was able to attend; our archives contain a letter of regret from William McKinley, who stated he hoped to “sometime have the pleasure of visiting your school.” Unfortunately that opportunity never materialized; McKinley was assassinated in September of 1901, when then Vice President Roosevelt became President.  

1893 Commencement

Benjamin Harrison

Grover Cleveland

Howard Taft

McKinley Letter of Regret

Teddy Roosevelt

Monday, October 6, 2014

Suited for Success: Help Others Make a Lasting Impression at Job Interviews

400 years ago the Catholic priest, theologian, and social critic Erasumus uttered the famous lines “Clothes make the man.” Since then it has been echoed by the likes of Shakespeare, Mark Twain and countless career consultants. For men and women looking to return to the workforce, this idea rings especially true.

A job interview is one of the most important occasions to make a strong first impression. Studies show that 55% of another person's perception of you is based on how you look. Before you even say hello, your interviewer has made an initial judgment of you based solely on your appearance.

The Peirce Career Development Services’ Suited for Success drive aims to provide men and women looking to return to the workforce with the appropriate attire to make that perception a positive one. Through the donations of the Peirce community, we’re providing future job candidates with the attire needed to build their confidence as they begin the interviewing process.

Throughout the month of October we’re collecting gently used men and women’s business attire in the College Hall Lobby. So as you clean out your closets and prepare for the winter months, please consider donating any gently used items to our Suited for Success drive. Your kindness will help provide men and women with the necessary attire to build their self-esteem and leave a memorable impression after the job interview.

On behalf of the recipients who may land a job because of your generosity, thanks in advance.

Monday, September 29, 2014

How to Find the Perfect Mentor

What do Dr. Martin Luther King, Colin Powell, and Oprah Winfrey have in common?  They all attribute a large part of their success to meaningful relationships they’ve had with mentors. Regardless of what field you’re looking to enter, a good mentor can provide many benefits that will help you excel in your career path.

As we are preparing to launch the third year of our Peirce Student Mentoring program with an on-campus kickoff celebration, allow us to share some reflections about what goes into a successful mentoring relationship.

There are many different types of mentor/mentee relationships. Some mentors may be professionals in your career field, while others may simply be a role model you look up to. A good mentor will help you define and refine your direction, help you realize your full potential, provide valuable life advice, and push you to keep moving forward. You will need to do the work and the self-assessment, but they will be there for feedback and guidance.

Mentorships can come in all shapes and sizes. Some are formal, others are informal. Some mentors meet with their mentee weekly or monthly, and some connect through email, or on the phone. Others may meet quarterly or every couple of months for lunch. The most important thing is that you develop a relationship that is most beneficial for the both of you.

Here are some effective ways to find a mentor and tips for developing a successful relationship.

Understand why you want a mentorship
The most effective relationships will be those where you define what you’re hoping to gain even before you start looking for a mentor. Identify the areas you hope to grow in or any challenges you may be having with your personal or professional development. Think about your long term goals so that you can find a mentor that can best help you grow into the person who can achieve them.  Ask yourself these questions: 
  • What do I hope to gain from this relationship?
  • How can the mentor help?
  • Who would be the ideal mentor? Why? 
Find your mentor
A potential mentor could be anyone you look up to personally or professionally who is willing to help you reach your full potential. With that said, you could find a potential mentor in a variety of different settings and events. Some great places to find one include: 
  • Career related workshops
  • Alumni
  • Networking events
  • Professional development events
  • By talking to your professor
  • Civic groups
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • LinkedIn connections
  • Bosses or professional colleagues 
Many mentees also say they found their mentor while volunteering. Others have found theirs by setting up informational interviews with professionals working in the field they’re interested in.

You would do well to do some research on a potential mentor.  A Google search or survey of their LinkedIn profile ahead of an ask may provide valuable insight into their background, skills and interests, and provide you with information for a future conversation.

Develop the relationship
Keep in mind that being a mentor is a large commitment, especially for busy professionals. Ease into the relationship. You should never ask anyone you have just met or don’t even know to be your mentor. Perhaps instead of coming right out and asking them to be your mentor, ask if they would give you some advice or meet with you to answer a few questions. Depending on the outcome of that meeting, you can move to formalize the relationship. Consider asking if they would mentor you in a specific area rather than broadly asking if they’d be your mentor.

Keep in mind this is a two-way relationship. You should always be looking for opportunities to provide value to your mentor. In addition to looking for ways to assist them, you should also show your appreciation for their help and demonstrate your commitment to making the most of the relationship. Be sure to keep them updated on how you’ve progressed and thank them for specific things they’ve done to help you.

Look for a mentor who has already done what you’re hoping to do, who understands what it will take to help you get there, and is passionate about their field and helping others excel.

Good luck on your search! We’d love to hear how a mentor is helping you succeed both in and out of the classroom so be sure to keep us updated!

If you would be interested in being connected with an alumni mentor as part of Peirce’s Student Mentoring program, email or call 215-670-9202.  A second cohort of the program will be launched early next year.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Common Problems Returning Students Face and Resources for Overcoming Them

Returning to school is an exciting time for both current and new students alike. But as you may have experienced, the first few weeks may present unique challenges for adult learners who are also managing work and family commitments. These challenges can arise whether you’ve been away from school for a few months or a few years.

Among these challenges there are three that I typically see more often than others. I’ve outlined them below and provided resources that will help you not just during the first few weeks, but throughout your entire academic experience.
  1. Preparedness – Naturally in the beginning, students aren’t always sure of what to expect and may become overwhelmed. In some cases, this can lead to lower participation and engagement in class. Unfortunately, this only adds to their challenges as it puts them further behind.
  2.  Attendance – It’s very important for students to start off on the right foot with participation and attendance. Stats show that students who miss class have a much higher risk of failure while those who attend every class and participate are typically successful. Keep in mind it’s not just that you are at every class, but that you are engaged in the class.
  3. Time management – A large population of students at Peirce also work and are raising a family. This can make managing those commitments and schedules especially challenging.
Fortunately, Peirce understands these issues that many students face. As a result, we offer many different free resources to help you overcome them. Understanding the resources that are available to you will help you thrive during those first few weeks and beyond.
  • Tutoring – You can request individual appointments or group tutoring. You can even get tutoring by phone or on Saturdays to help accommodate your busy schedule.
  • SMARTHINKING – Smart thinking is an online tutoring service available to students. You can connect with a live tutor, called an “e-structor” and ask questions. You can also to submit your papers and essays and receive feedback on mechanics and different things you can work on for improvement.
  • Workshops – Peirce students are encouraged to attend workshops held at the Walker Center for Academic Excellence and the Career Development Services Office. These workshops will provide you with valuable tips and advice for succeeding both in the classroom and in your career.
  • Academic Advisors - Get to know your advisor and the different ways they can assist you. Your professional Academic Advisor that has been assigned to you will help you plan out your academic program and make the best use of the services available.
  • Faculty - Taking the time to speak to professors before class, after class, and during office hours has many different benefits. Faculty can offer different perspectives and may know of additional resources in that field that can help you overcome challenges.
  • The Peirce Connections blog – Our blog provides plenty of tips and guidance from our academic, advising, and career development experts. By browsing the blog you’ll learn effective tips for networking, interviewing, financial aid, upcoming workshops, and much more. Also keep an eye on our social media channels where we regularly update the latest posts and provide additional tips. 
A last piece of advice I’ll leave you with is strive to have continuous enrollment. Students who take courses year-round – fall, spring and summer – typically do better because of the consistency. One reason for this is because it keeps you continuously focused on your academics.

Another reason is because so many of your courses will build upon previous coursework. Keeping the principles from previous courses fresh in your mind makes advancing right into the next semester that much easier. Continuous enrollment students are more successful and complete their degree quicker than those who take time off, and it’s a lot easier to stay engaged and on top of classes

Most importantly, become an advocate for yourself and take ownership of your education. We want to help every student but we need to know when you need help and how we can assist. If you have any questions about the resources available and which will most help you to succeed, feel free to set up a meeting with your advisor and visit our the My Advising and Student Services tabs on