Chris Clary, Director of Career Development, Saint Michael’s College
What do you love about working at Saint Michael’s College?
Saint Michael’s is a very tight knit community where not only do I have the opportunity for a lot of interaction with students through career development, but also through collaboration with faculty, other departments on campus, and especially student groups. As a result, we know many of our seniors by the time they graduate and have developed extensive alumni contacts over the years, which can benefit our current students.
When you aren’t working, how do you spend your free time?
Spending time with my family and visiting with my grandson is the best part of any week. I read all the time…fiction, history, contemporary social issues, and enjoy being outside, especially in the garden.
Who inspired you to get involved in Higher Education?
Prior to working at Saint Michael’s College I knew many members of the community through my husband who is an English professor. There were many people, both faculty and staff, whose dedication and enthusiasm for their students inspired me to enter higher education.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in your career (so far)?
It is important to listen to students, paying attention to their concerns, their hopes, and aspirations. Being open, patient, respectful, and supportive is essential if I am to be of real service as my students find their way into adulthood.
What is on your Higher Ed bucket list?
I am aware of the financial constraints facing many students and how these affect their choices of summer jobs and even their career paths. As a strong advocate for liberal arts education, I see the necessity to find more opportunities for paid summer internships with non-profits and other organizations that will enable more students to explore areas outside the corporate realm. Working with our alumni office and institutional advancement to fund more of these opportunities is important to me.
What advice would you offer to new professionals who are starting their first professional position?
Be open to and proactive about collaboration across different areas and offices of campus, especially in those areas that work closely with student development. Make connections with faculty, especially those who may be in departments where the relationship between major and career is less obvious. Everyone is being asked to provide students with career guidance and resources and career counselors are in an unique position to assist with this. We are all in this adventure together.