"What the Pros Know"

What the Pros Know

Carla Rinde knows a thing or two about jobs.

After 35 years, Carla Rinde is retiring as director of Career and Professional Development (formerly the Career Services Office). During those years, the office has touched some 14,000 alumni, based on the class size average. She has served on numerous college committees and countless position searches, including the search that resulted in the hiring of the late President Bobby Fong. She has co-coordinated the Kemper Scholarship, managed the Ursinus partnership with the Washington Internship Institute and represented Ursinus on the board of the Perkiomen Valley Chamber of Commerce. And, she has judged almost every Airband competition.

An undergraduate major can be related to, but not define, one’s career.

As a student, I worked in the Binghamton University admission office and I loved giving tours, talking to prospective families and advancing the mission of the university. I also loved my major: environmental studies. We studied the relationships and connections between living things, including humans, and their environment. It may be a stretch but I always saw my work in higher education as a continuation of what I studied in college, in that I still studied the connections between students and their environment. And just like the water cycle, carbon cycle and nitrogen cycle, if a college student’s ecosystem should become unbalanced, the effects can be devastating.

Linear career paths are behind us.

My career path, unlike the career paths of young people today, was pretty straight and linear. I graduated college, went to grad school (MS.Ed Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse) and worked in the field that I studied. The straight and narrow path I followed hardly exists any more. Today people zig zag. Careers are curvy. Students are bolder—they take more risks, they don’t follow the dots. It is exciting for new graduates, but it can be scary, too. That is why I love working in this field—to help students embrace both the uncertainty and also the opportunity.

Social media has revolutionized an already rapidly evolving field.

The field is SO VERY different today. The career services field historically has changed to adapt to economic conditions. When the field developed in the early 1900s, vocation bureaus were created to help new immigrants find work. Later in the 1920s and 30s, the field responded to the tremendous need for teachers.  In the 1940s and through the 60s, the focus was on placement of GI Bill veterans. The 1970s and 1980s saw the emphasis was on helping graduates assess their interests and skills, explore careers and plan a job search. The information technology and social media revolution of the 1990s and after, transformed offices like mine into vital centers that facilitate networking. Job searching strategies have seen drastic changes in the last 10 years or so. A student’s online profile has become much more important.

Ursinus students are prepared for the workforce.

I feel so fortunate that the majority of my career was spent helping Ursinus students see that there is a lot you can do in college to become “career ready,” and that if you find the vocabulary to successfully market your skills and talents to a workplace or graduate/professional school, great things will happen. I have every confidence that our students are extraordinarily prepared. To think we may have assisted students in realizing their goals is rewarding for ALL of us in my office. We are so proud of our students. We have so much confidence in them, and we know they are going to go on and do good work.

More employers are seeking job candidates with skills that can be transferred to a number of positions. They want critical thinking, interpersonal communications, teamwork and problem-solving. Liberal arts students learn how to learn.

One word: Airband.

I worked at a small college in Michigan prior to coming to Ursinus (Albion College). At that time, music videos had just launched on MTV and teenagers were fascinated by them. And everyone tried to mimic them. So we launched what in the early years was exclusively a lip-sync competition, with creativity mostly in the costume and props, like using a curling iron as a microphone or an ironing board as a keyboard. It began very different than it is today, but the one thing I am so pleased about is how Airband has become such a fun tradition. We don’t have enough traditions on campus, and it feels so great that this has endured the test of time and so many alumni have great memories of their time on the stage. The other thing that makes me feel great about Airband is how it has evolved into a fund-raiser for a worthy cause selected and supported by that year’s RA staff. I just love that. It’s a beautiful thing and so characteristic of our students.

A few words for the Class of 2017.

Show up. Be present. Work hard. And most important … be nice and treat others with kindness.