Self-Discovery Activities That Facilitate Curricular Engagement And Career Exploration


  • Jacquelyn Brown George Mason University
  • Cameron Harris George Mason University
  • Gretchen Hendricks George Mason University



Location: JC Room C

The facilitators of this workshop will share strategies from the first of two Developing Your Professional Skills courses (BUS 103), open to all Mason students, where we focus heavily on student identity and introspection through intrapersonal communication, while simultaneously addressing the 21st century skills employers require and yet often consider graduates lacking (e.g., critical thinking/problem-solving, written and oral communication, teamwork skills). Throughout this course, we discuss values and self-exploration for the purpose of academic and professional growth, and we encourage students to think about their individual values and how those should (and could) impact their curricular and career choices. Knowing how to assess an organization to see if it aligns with career aspirations is worth consideration in the job search process, as one's fit within the workplace culture often leads to job satisfaction, engagement, and retention, and is something students will often overlook when considering their futures. By connecting students with their values, they will make more informed and deliberate choices regarding their majors, course selections, and career preparations. This workshop will allow participants to act as students to assess their personal and workplace values, consider how these values impact (or have impacted) their interests, and determine if a path would be a good "fit" based on those identified values. Participants will walk through the process asked of our students and can gauge how to implement this across disciplines. When and where do career aspirations and values enter into our curriculum? Whose responsibility is it to encourage introspection and self reflection for personal values and career alignment? We will challenge participants to consider how they may encourage students in their own courses to examine their values, in connection to curricular and career choices. While the focus of our courses is on professional skills, and part of that deals with career values, these courses should not be the only space where students consider and reconsider their values and how they impact their trajectory. We will encourage participants to find opportunities within their courses and curriculum to connect to values. This workshop will walk participants through our lesson on values, identifying important readings and assessment tools, sharing discussion prompts, and encouraging individuals to brainstorm diverging paths. Core values will be identified through an assessment tool and the results will be used to evaluate personal choices and passions, allowing for individuals to consider future options and make deliberate choices. Participants will be given time to map out how our shared information could fit into their curriculum, discuss with others in the session, and potentially identify areas for cross-disciplinary exposure. This self-discovery workshop promotes the "yet" component of a growth mindset by allowing participants to consider their current and future self (and potential), or what they have yet to accomplish.

Author Biographies

Jacquelyn Brown, George Mason University

Jacquelyn D. Brown is the current chair of Business Foundations in the School of Business at George Mason University, where she teaches professional skills courses. She has received several teaching awards within the School and is working on a PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, focusing on professional writing, emotional intelligence, and classroom management.

Cameron Harris, George Mason University

Cameron J. Harris is an instructor and Dean's Teaching Faculty Fellow in the School of Business at George Mason University. He teaches the professional skills courses, and his interests include diversity and inclusive teaching practices.

Gretchen Hendricks, George Mason University

Gretchen T. Hendricks is an instructor in Business Foundations, where she teaches professional skills courses. She has spent over a decade teaching psychology and professional development classes that prepare students for the college experience and navigating today's job market. Hendricks frequently takes on the role of mentor and advocate for students, consistently providing creative resources and transformational learning experiences that promote growth.





2:45pm-3:25pm Mini-Workshops, Panels, & Roundtables