For Humanities Faculty

Communications Guidelines for Departments 

Brief version

Deeper dive


Anonymous Survey, aka the Suggestion Box

What is Compass? 

It’s an integrated approach to helping Ball State humanities majors find their “true north.”

Compass helps humanities students navigate from college to career, providing them with alumni connections, visible post-college career pathways, curriculum, events, workshops, and (in a few years) internship stipends.

Compass is the only initiative at Ball State devoted to improving the post-graduate success rates of humanities students—specifically—and it’s manned by humanities students themselves.

It’s not about “finding a job.” It’s about students finding their purpose.

Did you know?

What do those statistics tell us?

The cynical response is “Getting a job is all about who you know.”

The Compass response is “There’s power in a community.”

Think about this well-known quotation by author Toni Morrison:

“I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”

Compass relies on loyal alumni who are willing to share their stories, their connections, and their time.  They’re willing to provide mentorship and direction to the next generation of Ball State humanities students.


#1 Student Navigators

The Navigators are responsible for helping to create a sense of community in humanities departments. They help departments navigate the waters of marketing.

They have three types of work:

  • communication (running social media and generating blog content for humanities departments at Ball State)
  • career (serving as TAs and peer mentors in the “Discovery”  career course)
  • community (assisting the Director in planning, promoting, and executing events, like Stars to Steer By and Star Party)

Their communication work involves applying content marketing strategies with a higher education lens. The Navigators create and manage digital content for department blogs and social media accounts; design digital displays and print flyers; create alumni e-newsletters; and compose weekly and monthly digest emails.

Navigator's office and working in NQ

The navigators work in this office inside North Quad 160. Once upon a time, it was the home of vending machines.

#2 Steering Committee

This group brings advocates together in community of practice to provide leadership and strategic direction for the Compass Initiative. At this time, there is no occasion for liberal arts departments at Ball State to share their career-readiness efforts with one another.

The committee is led by CSH Associate Dean Jill Coleman, Compass Director Cathy Day, and Compass Assistant Director Kathryn S. Gardiner. Faculty and academic advisors from all liberal arts departments at Ball State also attend.

#3 Discovery Course

This course formally “plugs students into” the Compass program. It will focus on student self-assessment including personal attributes such as values, interests, personality/temperament, competencies/skills, and passion/purpose. Begins the process of connecting student attributes with the exploration of options in the world of work. Designed especially for students who are fairly early in their academic career. The “Stars to Steer By” speaker series takes place during this class.

We’ve already offered a pilot version of this class–with great results.

#4 Career Pathways

  • In order to help students narrow down their career options from “anything” to something more manageable, we’re introducing the concept of “pathways,” five broad career categories that humanities students often pursue.
  • In the years ahead, we’d like students to choose a major, a minor and 1-3 pathways that interest them.

Alumni and students can meet inside Cardinals Connect, an online platform, like a Ball-State LinkedIn. Join with your LinkedIn account (preferably) and then look for the “Compass” groups.

We’ve created five groups for the five pathways. And you don’t have to pick just one.

    1. Business and Technology such as Information Technology, Management, Human Resources, Sales, Administrative Support
    2. Creative Arts and Communications, such as Advertising, Journalism, Publishing, Public Relations
    3. Education and Training, such as Public History, Library Science, Museums and Archives, Teaching in Higher Education
    4. Human Services such as Hospitality and Tourism, Nonprofits, Family and Community Services
    5. Government and Law such as Legal Services, Foreign Service, Public Management, Paralegal

#5 Events

Events provide an important occasion for bringing alumni and students and faculty together. They are at the heart of Compass.

Stars to Steer By: This series brings Ball State humanities alumni to campus to share their career journey with current students.  Topics include “Networking for Introverts,” “Careers in Publishing,” “Humanities + Tech,” etc.

Star Party: A yearly event that introduces humanities students to organizations and opportunities (immersive learning classes, student organizations, internships, etc.).

#6 Multipurpose Space

The lounge known as North Quad 160 serves as the hub of Compass. The director, assistant director, and student navigators report to work here, and the courses associated with the initiative are taught in this space. It’s also an event space.

student navigators working in small groups

Student navigators work on communication projects on four small teams: Blog, Social Media, Design, and Curation.

Want to get involved?

Alumni, Parents, and Friends of the Humanities at Ball State

  • Sponsor an internship: If your place of business has an internship position (or can create one), contact the Ball State Career Center.
  • Tell Your Story: You can indicate your willingness to speak at an event or in a class by registering for Cardinals Connect. If you live too far away, we’d love to interview you for our blog. Remember: when you make yourself more visible to students, you help guide their way. 
  • Mentor Online: join Cardinals Connect  (like a BallState-only LinkedIn). 

This is what you’ll see when you register. Alums, you can choose how often you want to be contacted and how much you’re able to help.

This is what you’ll see when you register for Cardinals Connect.

Compass Groups

Once you join Cardinals Connect (here’s some advice about that) and are approved, select “Groups” in the left-hand menu and search for “Compass.” If your career (or career interest) is part “Business and Technology,” part “Human Services,” by all means, join both groups. They will look like this:

Our ambitious goal: 500 Ball State humanities students and alumni in our Compass groups on Cardinals Connect by May 1, 2020.

Questions or ideas? Contact the Director of the Compass Initiative, Cathy Day or connect with her on LinkedIn. You can find her in North Quad 162.