Piper Center for Vocation and Career

Tomson Hall 270  •  507-786-3268  •  www.stolaf.edu/pipercenter  •  email:piper.center@stolaf.edu

The Piper Center is comprised of five program areas offering a host of opportunities for students to discern their vocation and gain career-related experience while pursuing an undergraduate degree. Within each program are initiatives that promote the Piper Center’s mission to “provide resources and experiences designed to help students leverage their liberal arts education to achieve their full potential.” The Piper Center is a resource center for students, providing information and assistance to help determine vocational goals and devise well-informed post-graduation plans.

Career Education and Coaching — Career coaches help students develop, implement, and evaluate career and life plans while collaborating with academic departments to integrate concepts of career development into courses of study. Career Education workshops and events are designed to help students identify their vocation and refine their professional skills. From vocational discernment exercises, to mock interviews and salary negotiation, Piper Center events and workshops provide the tools to guide students toward a meaningful career or post-graduate opportunity.

Internships and Civic Engagement — These programs support students in applying classroom learning and developing professional skills. Students utilize services and resources available through the Internship program to identify and prepare for structured educational work experiences. Piper Center staff work closely with faculty members to develop tools and strategies that encourage students to set learning goals and derive meaning from their credit and non-credit internship experiences. The Civic Engagement program helps connect the classroom with the community – linking students with civic and service opportunities in local, domestic and international contexts. Collaboration between the Piper Center, faculty members, and community partners enhances learning and encourages students to develop the skills, knowledge and experience necessary to become engaged citizens.

Recruiting and Outreach — Throughout the year, students have the opportunity to interact with alumni and employers through on-campus and virtual recruiting, information sessions, job and internship fairs, and networking events. Piper Center staff facilitate numerous on and off campus career and networking events where students can take advantage of the vast network of St. Olaf alumni and other supporters living and working locally, domestically and abroad.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship — The Innovation and Entrepreneurship program promotes creativity among students, faculty, and alumni toward the goal of transforming society. Dedicated to education, research, and service within the liberal arts, the program supports student creativity through innovation grants, courses, internships, business plan development, start-up support, and networking events.

Postgraduate Scholarships and Fellowships — In close collaboration with faculty and academic departments, the Piper Center offers strategic guidance to students applying for competitive postgraduate scholarships and fellowships, such as Fulbright, Marshall, National Science Foundation, Rhodes, Rotary, and others. Faculty liaisons assist students with the discernment process and advise on best practices for assembling a competitive application.


Experience Matters!

No matter where you are in the process of forming your vocation and identifying your place in the world, be intentional and strategic about choosing experiential learning opportunities.  Choose experiences related to your academic interests; engage in activities that will build your skill set and assist in your vocational exploration.

Guide for Your Years at St. Olaf College

First-Year: Discover

  • Browse course descriptions in the online Academic Catalog and talk to professors in various departments about majors and opportunities.
  • Check out the the Piper Center’s Majors and Careers web links.
  • Get familiar with Ole Career Central to stay updated about workshops, fairs, scholarships, internshipos, jobs, and other opportunities from the Piper Center.
  • Research majors or career interest areas using the Piper Center’s resource library.
  • Join a student organization that relates to your interests.

Sophomore: Investigate and Explore

  • Attend workshops or meet with a Piper Center career coach to learn how your interests, personality, values and strengths are related to your academic goals and career options.
  • Use the Assessing and Exploring Careers web links on the Piper Center’s student page to discover how your interests and skills apply to the world of work.
  • Participate in the sophomore vocation retreat.
  • Meet one-on-one with an advisor to discuss your vocation and career.
  • Participate in the Piper Center’s activities, programs and opportunities.
  • Find a work study opportunity that relates to your interests and goals.
  • Conduct informational interviews and engage in job shadowing to learn about career areas that interest you.
  • Enhance your experience by selecting a summer job, internship, research, or volunteer opportunity related to your interests.

Junior: Experiment & Evaluate

Senior: Implement

  • Define your post-graduation goals and create an action plan for your senior year.
  • Create a resume and cover letter and have them critiqued by a peer advisor or career coach in the Piper Center.
  • Write a personal statement and a curriculum vita for graduate school applications.
  • Create your personal calendar of job, volunteer, and graduate school fairs and recruiting events.
  • Research employment, post-graduate volunteer, or grad school options and start applying.
  • Conduct a practice interview with a career coach at the Piper Center to enhance your self-presentation skills.