The O'Donnell Center for Professional Development

Brenda Stover, M.S., Assistant Dean
The Clay Center at VSB, #1054 Bartley Hall

The Clay Center at VSB is home to the Charlotte and James V. O’Donnell ’63 Center for Professional Development. The O’Donnell Center helps to deliver the Backpack-to-Briefcase curriculum, provides professional development coaching, coordinates experiential education initiatives, and works closely with VSB faculty, Centers of Excellence, business societies, and the Villanova Career Center to offer career education and employer programs that help students explore areas of interest and prepare for the business world. The O’Donnell Center also manages the undergraduate Mentor Program.

Professional development is incorporated into the core business curriculum through our unique Backpack-to-Briefcase (B2B) program starting in the first year. The program combines class sessions and out of class activities that focus on an introduction to campus career resources, career exploration, developing internship/job search skills and development of soft skills. During the fall of the first year B2B requirements are embedded in the Business Dynamics course that is required of all VSB students, while during the spring semester B2B is delivered through a stand-alone course known as VSB 0099: First-Year Experience. As sophomores and juniors, students enroll in a one-credit B2B course each year.

VSB recognizes the importance of students gaining “hands-on” experience prior to graduation as a critical element of their education and a means of clarifying career goals and increasing marketability upon graduation. VSB students may earn academic credit for approved internships and CoOps. The O’Donnell Center collaborates with campus partners to develop employer relationships and identify externships, internships, and CoOp programs that support students’ interests. Guidance on the search for opportunities is provided through individual coaching appointments and the Rise to the Top Experiential Education Workshop Series.

The O’Donnell Center also works with thirty (30) student business societies and the VSB Council of Presidents (student society oversight board) to assist the groups in establishing goals, as well as developing and hosting programs and events.

The VSB Mentor Program brings VSB students and alumni volunteers together in one-to-one relationships to support the student’s career and professional development goals. Students are invited to participate in the Mentor Program during spring of sophomore year. All student mentees and alumni mentors opt in and are paired based on the student’s primary career interests, desired work location, and mutual areas of interest. Mentors share their knowledge and experience to support mentee’s goals and professional development, building a bridge between the classroom and the professional world.