Creating a Culture of Success

March 6, 2015

How can NBSS intentionally and positively create a culture that nurtures employability and partnerships and create students and graduates who serve as ambassadors for the school? Lana Jackson, in a new position as Director of Student Life and Career Services, is working with staff, faculty, and students to find the best way to do so.

Lana with students

Career Preparation

When Lana Jackson transitioned to Director of Student Life and Career Services under the umbrella of Admissions and Student Success, she set goals to build community among the programs and increase the employability of NBSS graduates—employability defined as the capacity of NBSS graduates to get a job, perform well in their job and have the skills to move between jobs as needed.

Lana’s first step was to organize an all-school career weekend April 10–11 to bring business owners, union representatives, trade association and guild representation, and small employers together with graduating students and alumni. Ancillary services including the Small Business Administration, PayAnyWhere, CustomMade, and Etsy representatives were also invited.

In preparation for career weekend, Lana held workshops and counseled students on business etiquette as well as writing resumes, cover letters and thank you letters. These career-skill sessions and the optional six-week business class run by the Arts and Business Council of Greater Boston were folded in to an intentional progression of jobs-skill-building that culminated with the career weekend.

“By beginning to plan for employment at the beginning of the program, students are better able to transition quickly from school to meaningful employment.”

A Holistic Culture

In addition to job skills and in an effort to facilitate the physical, mental and spiritual health of each student, Lana has experimented with offering yoga sessions, and poetry and book clubs, as well as formalizing a partnership with the local North End Waterfront Health Center’s Behavior Science Department. She ran a popular weekly make-it-yourself peanut butter and jelly sandwich lunch during the winter months that was particularly enjoyed. Students were grateful to stay out of the cold, get back to their projects quickly and for the opportunity to get to know students from other programs.

PB&J Day

The overarching goal for Student Life and Career Services is to support students and enhance their ability to succeed both during school and after graduation. Happy and successful students/graduates tend to be loyal, responsive and possess a strong attachment to their alma mater that can last a lifetime, enriching alumni lives and the school community. Many NBSS alumni hire other NBSS graduates continuing the cycle of mentoring and support.

During graduation, NBSS President Miguel Gómez-Ibáñez CF ’99 addresses graduates as the “newest alumni” and reminds them that they represent the best of what we have to offer. Alumni become ambassadors and contribute to the word of mouth marketing that is one of the best ways prospective students learn about the school. In complementing the education experience in the programs with employment skills, the goal is to empower students to become successful in their careers and natural ambassadors of the school, enriching and sustaining the North Bennet Street School community at large.

This story is part of the Spring 2015 issue of Benchmarks magazine. See more Benchmarks issues here, or download a pdf of the entire issue.

Full-Time Programs