Hiatt's Philosophy and Approach

From recruitment and admissions through their years in school and beyond to alumni services and advancement, career services is with Brandeis students every step of the way as an important touchpoint in the student lifecycle. Over the last few years, the Hiatt Career Center has been enhancing and aligning our office philosophy and approach, and we’re excited to share an overview here.

As we talk about our work we say, Hiatt helps Brandeisians know who they are, what they want, and how to get there. We recognize careers are not about finding one job or making a single decision. “Careers” intersect with many areas of life and are shaped by changing interests, unexpected events, and new opportunities. As a result, there are many different factors involved with career decision making and there is no test for students to tell them what they can do.

This is not radically new, however, our approach and reaction to it better reflect the reality of careers today. Many years ago, career centers were thought of as placement offices and we’ve worked hard to move very far away from that impression and type of service. Today we are educators and the range of careers and student interests is far too vast and interconnected for us to focus only on placement.

A New Philosophy

Recognizing the dynamic nature of work, Hiatt has embraced a philosophy which helps students discover unexpected opportunities, develop skills and strategies to become adaptable and learn flexible decision making. Over the course of a year and a half the office reviewed and selected a philosophy informed by scholarship, research, and practice in the field of career development. We have adopted a philosophy because it:

In the same way that you might use a GPS or navigation system when you drive, a theory of career is our GPS. You might end up where you want without it, but the GPS can provide better directions and many routes when unexpected roadblocks appear.

As an office, Hiatt has adopted the Chaos Theory of Careers (Pryor & Bright, 2011), which teaches flexible planning and decision-making, addresses the uncertainty a fluid employment sector generates, and holds students at the center of the process creating a holistic framework. Chaos theory comes from math and science and observing nature. Chaos does not mean disorder, in fact, it is all about systems and patterns.

We adopted this theory because it acknowledges multiple pathways in life and that change is a constant part of career development and decision making. It’s also a multicultural and inclusive theory of career development, based on the factors and influences important to the individual student. Chaos Theory of Careers also supports and empowers students by building self-efficacy: it’s about lifelong teaching and learning. We invite students to collaborate with Hiatt, intentionally using this language because we are not experts doling out advice or contacts, rather we are partners in this process with students.


Hiatt has been more closely tracking how we collaborate and engage with our students. We regularly see over 60% of the undergraduate students engaging with Hiatt through online and in-person services. Our student population, much like their interests, are diverse and we have seen great representation across class years, majors and diversity. We now regularly engage over half of all each class year and as well as all students of color each semester!

In addition to engagement, we focus on quantitative and qualitative evaluations and track our learning outcomes. After appointments in spring of 2020 over 85% of students left aware of resources, understanding their next steps, and ready to put them into action! We have also seen our Net Promoter Scores steadily increase, to 73.68 for appointments in 2020. Learn more about Net Promoter Scores and see benchmarks. The following are typical student quotes about appointments and drop-ins:

Our nationally recognized staff of with undergraduate students and alumni inclusive of all identities, backgrounds, and interests. Learn more about Hiatt staff.

Creating Opportunity

One of Hiatt’s primary resources is Handshake, our online internship and job board, as well as our resource for students, where they go to make an appointment or see reviews of companies. Handshake’s mission is to: democratize opportunity because building your career shouldn't’t depend on where you go to school, what you’re majoring in, or who your parents know. Handshake’s social justice mission aligns with Brandeis as well as our office, and it has been a successful partnership. In 2019-2020, Handshake saw more than 60,000 job and internship postings from across the country specifically for Brandeis Students. Learn more about the organizations recruiting Brandeis Students.

In addition to Handshake, we create networking and career opportunities through events, career fairs, meetups, and alumni networking events in Boston and across the country, with the goal of most of these events being primarily to make connections and learn more about organizations. In 2019-2020 we had over 280 organizations engage in educational and recruiting events. 

Beyond Brandeis

To help current and future students create connections, we track and built out an interactive website called Beyond Brandeis. Here we can see where students work, study, and live after graduation. We hope this will be useful for faculty when you get asked the “Where have previous students gone” question, and much more. Visit go.brandeis.edu/beyondbrandeis to explore this interactive tool.

We recognize careers do not occur in a vacuum and neither does our success. Hiatt is focusing on an ecosystem approach to engagement, collaboration, and career education. We are embarking on a mission to build longer-lasting systems and partnerships with stakeholders to help us accomplish goals together.

We hope that you will stay connected to Hiatt and reach out to us with new ideas and ways to continue our partnerships.

Jon Schlesinger, Director, Hiatt Career Center

Resources for More Information

Pryor, R. G. L., & Bright, J. E. H. (2011). The chaos theory of careers: A new perspective on working in the twenty-first century. New York, NY: Routledge.

Schlesinger, J. & Daley, L. P. (2016). Applying the chaos theory of careers as a framework for college career centers. Journal of Employment Counseling, 53(2). doi: 10.1002/joec.12030

Brooks, K. (2009). You majored in what?: Mapping your path from chaos to career. New York, NY: Viking.

National Recognition 

Hiatt has been nationally recognized for career services excellence from two of our professional associations as a result of this philosophy and how we have implemented it.

NACE 2020 AwardNCDA 2019 Award