Example of a Berea College student’s labor transcript
Another Way to Showcase Skill Sets
The Labor Program is a crucial element of the Berea College Education. Like academics, the primary goal is learning, but the labor program succeeds brilliantly for most students by adding practical experience and applicable skill sets to the learning in academic course work. The Labor Program prepares a student for the world of work. Berea College also documents this learning through a ‘labor transcript.’ This formal record lists the positions in which the student worked while attending Berea and includes awards won as well as the evaluations submitted by labor supervisors at the end of each semester.
Just like an academic transcript, students can request a copy of their labor transcript from the registrar. Though the Berea labor transcript has only been around for about five years, older alumni can request one as well, so long as the labor evaluation system was in place when they attended.
“The labor transcript gives students an opportunity to show they didn’t work just any job,” said Collis Robinson ’13, director of student labor. “It shows a progression of responsibility. Maybe they started answering the phones or taking out the trash, but by the time they graduated, they ended up being student managers, running meetings, managing other people and working with schedules. It will show all the skills they’ve gained while at Berea and how well they did at their jobs.”
The labor transcript isn’t unique to Berea. Other work colleges provide similar records of student employment, but there are only eight work colleges in the country, so most employers are not aware that such a useful credential exists.
“Employers have to be made aware of it,” said Robinson. “It is not something they would know to ask for.”
The concept is still new to students as well. The Labor Program has ramped up efforts at student orientations to inform them of what labor transcripts are and how they may be beneficial to them. Rosanna Napoleon ‘13, the Labor Program’s training and learning assessment specialist, says the transcript can help students frame their experience in their own minds.
“After college, having something like this helps a person know what to search for by helping them think about the skills they have learned and how these skills led to a mastery of things they learned in their academic program,” Napoleon said.
Juli Maggard Woodall ’99, human resources consultant at Paychex, Inc., believes the labor transcripts could be beneficial in today’s job-hunting environment, where a traditional résumé may no longer be enough.
“Résumés are two-dimensional items in a three-dimensional world,” she said. Recent graduates have moved to providing portfolios and “working résumés,” of which a labor transcript could be a part.
A “working résumé” includes an applicant’s recognition of a company’s unique challenges and how the applicant could aid in resolving them, among other information.
“Even if their labor assignment was in woodworking, if the information showcased on the labor transcript is similar to that of an academic transcript, a Berea student may have a better chance of getting their foot in the door,” Woodall said. “They could have links to actual achievements and not just what courses they took.”
Berea’s dean of labor, Sylvia Asante, indicates the labor transcript can serve not only as a working résumé, but also as verified testament to a person’s true work history.
“Berea is ahead of the game as far as working résumés are concerned,” Asante said. “Historically, résumés have been personal chronicles of someone’s work record, which can be false or true, while academic records are issued by the institution with their stamps of approval. The unrivaled labor transcript at Berea demonstrates that as a document issued by the institution, it can compete with or be compared to working résumés. The labor transcript is signed by the registrar, giving it institutional value and merit.”