Skip to Content

Center for Student Professional Development

Home > About Us

About Us

Our Mission

The Center for Student Professional Development helps students effectively develop their professional capabilities, define their identities and build resilience as they prepare for employment in a rapidly changing world.

A Holistic Approach to Preparing Students to be Resilient

Following the recession of 2008-2009, Center staff began analyzing how they could best prepare students for opportunities while in school and after graduation. After numerous conversations with Vanderbilt faculty and staff representing a variety of academic disciplines, as well as high-profile employers, alumni and parents, and leading peer institutions, the staff developed a comprehensive strategy designed to help students map out the knowledge and behaviors they will need to be resilient in their professional lives.

To prepare students to be resilient, the Center identified five key areas that serve as the framework for working with students. Known as The Five Pillars, these five areas are integrated in all Center activities.

The Five Pillars


We guide students through the process of identifying their strengths and interests.


We teach students to understand change, take action and manage transitions.


We support students as they expand their knowledge of the professional workplace and discover paths to opportunities.


We teach students how to leverage personal connections and networks.


We educate students in social and business etiquette to prepare them for professional interactions.

This strategy involves collaborating with university partners to integrate services across campus; incorporating experiential and simulated learning activities through engaging employers, faculty, staff, parents and the Vanderbilt community; and utilizing stakeholder networks to teach students about change and transition, professionalism, relationship building, understanding opportunities, and how their identity relates to them.

By using this integrated, holistic approach to professional development, Vanderbilt students are better able to navigate the ever-changing global job market.



Who We Serve

Undergraduate Students

The Center for Student Professional Development serves undergraduates enrolled full-time in the Blair School of Music, College of Arts and Science, School of Engineering, and Peabody College, and we also will provide full services to recent graduates (0-2 years out).

The Center provides many opportunities for students to learn about and explore professional opportunities, including career coaching appointments, workshops, career panels, Industry Career Days and field trips.

Through exploration, students can begin to identify the right professional fit within the world of work.

To begin mapping out a life direction, students are encouraged to drop by the Center during walk-in hours to meet with one of the professional career coaches or peer coaches on staff. During this 20-minute session, the staff member assists the student in determining next steps in the exploration process, or, if the student already has a field in mind, will connect the student with one of our industry clusters (groups of related industries and career fields).

The professions pursued by Vanderbilt graduates are varied and are often not directly tied to a student's major. For example, English majors sometimes find themselves in the music industry, and engineering majors may find themselves on Wall Street. By participating in coaching based on industry clusters, students can explore their interests in various fields and investigate applying what they have learned through their curricular and co-curricular experiences to a field of interest.

As students begin to develop their professional persona, there are many resources they can leverage through the Center to help them prepare for the world of work. One key resource is meeting with a career coach in a one-on-one coaching appointment. During these sessions students receive professional development including ways to conduct a strategic internship or job search. The goal is for students to develop their professional toolbox during their four years at Vanderbilt, which will provide a strong foundation to build upon after graduation.

For students who are not quite clear on their career interests, the Center offers coaching and exploration resources to assist them with clarifying their goals. This process often leads students to discover professional development opportunities by participating in activities offered through the Center.

Graduate Students

The Graduate School offers career services to all Ph.D. and master's-level students, including consultation during walk-in hours. Additional information is found on the Graduate School Career Development website.

The Center for Student Professional Development partners with the Career Development office of the Graduate School to provide additional career resources to graduate students, including access to DoreWays and other online resources.

Additional on-campus resources available to graduate students include:

BRET Office of Career Development
The School of Medicine's Office of Biomedical Research Education and Training (BRET) offers services for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in the biomedical and biological sciences.

Owen Career Management Center
For master’s students enrolled at the Owen Graduate School of Management.

Vanderbilt Law School Career Services
For Law School students.

Vanderbilt Peabody College Career Services
For students in professional programs (master’s and Ed.D.) at Peabody College of Education and Human Development.


Meet Our Staff

The Center employs both professional staff and graduate and undergraduate students dedicated to supporting you in your journey. These individuals are dedicated to:

  • Coaching you in your life path decisions
  • Establishing relationships with potential employers and alumni
  • Evaluating and implementing the best technology and resources to support you 

Center Staff

Leadership Team
Dawn Turton Jim Bellar    
Dawn Turton
Interim Director
Jim Bellar
Associate Director

Operations Team
Photo Coming Soon Angie Beason    
Coming Soon!
Angie Beason
Assistant Director/Career Coaches
Anne Reed Cathy Weisbrodt Cynthia Washington Dorrie Presson
Anne Reed Cathy Weisbrodt Cynthia Washington Dorrie Presson
Ethan Fesperman Grace Janoski    
Ethan Fesperman Grace Janoski Foy    
Recruiting Program Coordinators
Molly Kunzman Daravanh Weeks Penny Baga  
Molly Kunzman Daravanh Weeks Penny Baga  
Graduate Students
Natalie Nelson      
Natalie Nelson
Undergraduate Peer Coaches
Conner Perlin Emma Stewart Ethan Mellin Katie Upton
Connor Perlin Emma Stewart Ethan Mellin Katie Upton
Lauren Campbell Malik Hollingsworth Rhea Harsoor Saurabh Jha
Lauren Campbell Malik Hollingsworth Rhea Harsoor Saurabh Jha
Savannah Hall      
Savannah Hall      


Visit Our Office

Student Life Center

Located on the second floor of the Student Life Center, our office is open weekdays from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. during the academic year. Stop by and visit us during our walk-in hours to meet with one of our coaches. View current walk-in times on our homepage.


Back Home   

In this section

Visit Us

We are located on the 2nd floor of
the Student Life Center.

Office Hours
Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Walk-In Hours
Monday, Tuesday, Friday
Student Life Center, 2nd Floor
2:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Wednesday, Thursday
The Commons Center, #217
Noon - 2:00 p.m.

Stay Connected