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From College to Career - Innovative program prepares senior women in business for post-graduation success

College graduation is a time of big changes and exciting new directions, but amid the celebrations of their final undergraduate year, many seniors still face uncertainty and apprehension about their lives post-graduation. Fortunately, the Brock-Wilson Center for Women in Business recognized that need for support and turned it into an opportunity.

Director of the Brock-Wilson Center Cara Putman launched the center’s Confident Transitions program in 2023 after realizing that senior women in the Daniels School of Business had a need for more encouragement and assistance as they transitioned into their first full-time positions.

“I remember waking up one morning in November 2022 and realizing that all my students who were getting ready to graduate were so stressed,” Putman says. “Maybe it resonated with me differently that year because my oldest child was in that space too, but I knew there had to be something we could do as a college to help these women. Two weeks later, we launched Confident Transitions.”

Smiling student Diya Thomas with laptop
“I’ve enjoyed finding a community of women who are all going through the same feelings. It is so empowering to know that Purdue supports us pre-college and post-college." — Diya Thomas, Class of 2024

More than 200% growth

The program officially launched with a cohort of 15 students the following January. Every member received 12 books to guide them through their final semester of college and into post-graduation life. In monthly meetings, members of Confident Transitions discussed the month’s book, coached their peers through tough situations and developed plans for navigating their first job. In addition to in-person meetings from January to May, students were given the option to continue the program with virtual meetings through December.

Books the current cohort has read include The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance — What Women Should Know; The Click Moment: Seizing Opportunity in an Unpredictable World; Huddle: How Women Unlock Their Collective Power; and Influence Is Your Superpower: The Science of Winning Hearts, Sparking Change, and Making Good Things Happen.

After the success of the first year, the 2024 cohort has grown to include more than 50 women. “I learned about the program through last year’s cohort and wanted to connect with other women within the Daniels School of Business who were going through the transition process to life after college,” says Rachel Wong, a senior studying marketing and general management. “This program seemed like a great opportunity to network with other senior women and cap off my Purdue experience.”

In addition to book discussions, each meeting also features a guest speaker who gives advice on topics like budgeting, life planning, negotiations and more. Throughout the program, students have access to free one-on-one career coaching with a certified coach. If they choose to continue with the program after graduation, the women will be connected with an alumni mentor.

'Purdue supports us'

“I’ve enjoyed finding a community of women who are all going through the same feelings,” says Diya Thomas, a senior graduating in three years with a degree in general management. “It is so empowering to know that Purdue supports us pre-college and post-college. I have truly enjoyed getting to know everyone, learning from the well-planned activities, participating in life-coaching sessions and eating dinners together.”

This combination of personal and professional skill-building is precisely what Putman had in mind when she woke up on that November morning. “The heart of the program is that it tells our young women that they’re not alone, that they can go through all of these big life changes and do it with confidence,” she says. “I want them to know they’re going to be okay, and they’re going to thrive.”

Accounting major Ella Springer says she feels more confident about her life post-graduation due to her involvement in the program.

"Simply being able to discuss some of my concerns has significantly eased my worries about the transition," she says.

And Joscelyn Bell, who graduated in December 2023 from the business school's accounting program, calls Confident Transitions amazing.

"I’ve learned to leverage my strengths to my advantage, develop a successful budgeting plan, and build community with other women in business," Bell says.

By Hannah George