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Center for Student Professional Development

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About Us

Center for Student Professional Development Overview

Our Mission

The Center for Student Professional Development will help 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 looking at 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, 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 that 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 partnering with stakeholders 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 utilizing 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 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/or career fields).

Professional pursuits of Vanderbilt graduates are varied and often not directly tied to a students major. For example, English majors sometimes find themselves in the music industry and Engineering majors find themselves on Wall Street. By providing coaching based on career clusters, students can explore their interests in various fields and see how they can apply what they have learned through their curricular and co-curricular experiences to a field of interest. Additionally, this approach provides students with more targeted information in their life mapping process. 

As students begin to develop their professional persona, there are many resources they can leverage through the Center that will help them prepare for the world of work. A key resource is meeting with a Career Coach in a one-on-one coaching appointment where students are supported in their 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 the university which will provide a strong foundation to build upon after graduation.

For students not quite clear on their career interests, the Center offers coaching and exploration resources to assist students with clarification of goals. This process often leads students to discover professional development opportunities through participation in activities offered through the Center.

Graduate Students

The Center for Student Professional Development partners with the Career Development Services office of the Graduate School to provide career resources to graduate students.

The Graduate School offers career services to all PhD, MS, MA, MLAS and MFA students. Additional information including walk-in hours is available on the Graduate School Career Development website.

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 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 staff members to support you in your journey. Below you will find the staff with their titles. Our staff includes individuals dedicated to:

  • coaching you in your life path decisions
  • establishing relationships with potential employers
  • evaluating and implementing the best technology and resources to support you 

Center Staff

Jim Bellar
Associate Director

Cindy Funk Jim Bellar  

Cindy Funk

Jim Bellar
Associate Director

Daravanh Weeks Angie Beason  

Daravanh Weeks
Office Manager

Angie Beason
Communications Strategist

 Anne Reed  Cathy Weisbrodt  Dorrie Presson

Anne Reed
Assistant Director, Student Engagement

Cathy Weisbrodt
Assistant Director/Coach

Dorrie Presson
Assistant Director/Coach

 Cynthia Washington  Heather Lefkowitz  Keilani Goggins

Cynthia Washington
Assistant Director/Coach

Heather Lefkowitz
Assistant Director/Coach

Keilani Goggins
Assistant Director/Coach

 Nancy Sibole  Tim Grubbs  

Nancy Sibole
Assistant Director/Coach

Tim Grubbs
Assistant Director/Coach

 Sarah Kittrell  Grace Janoski  

Sarah Kittrell
Recruiting Coordinator

Grace Janoski
Recruiting Coordinator



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.


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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 - 3:00 p.m.

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