Ever since she worked as a graduate student intern in Lehigh’s office of career services, Lori Kennedy ’93G has been helping Lehigh students, alumni and others navigate their careers.
“I took a career development course taught by Arnold Spokane [director of the counseling psychology program in the College of Education] and was instantly intrigued with how we make career decisions,” says Kennedy, an alumna of Lehigh’s counseling and human services graduate program.
“It was a big turning point in my own career. I loved the ability to be a part of the process and to help people navigate career decisions…to identify values, interests, skills, and how they relate to our career choices.”
Kennedy, who was recently appointed director of career services, now devotes her time to expanding the outreach and opportunities that the office offers. Part of that initiative is to increase networking connections with alumni, who are important to the success of students entering the workforce.
“It is daily that alumni are either here on campus to recruit, make a presentation, or have a position to post,” she says.
“The Lehigh community is deeply dedicated to the success of our students and willing to partner and contribute to their success.”
Recently, a Philadelphia Inquirer article quoted Kennedy and included statistics from Lehigh’s on-line job placement report charting the success of 2012 graduates. According to the article, the report was lauded by the U.S. Department of Education and is being viewed by the Obama administration as a model to follow for a new college rating system.
Alumni volunteers regularly visit campus to participate in events such as the Resumé Marathon, Mock Interview Day and Career Fair. In September, the Career Fair connected 117 employers to more than 1,500 undergraduate and graduate students. During the 2012-2013 academic year, 1,216 corporate partners worked with the career services office to interview on campus or help students secure jobs or gain experience through externships, internships and co-ops. Much of that collaboration is done through alumni involvement.
“The Lehigh alumni network is amazing in the support that they provide our students,” said Robert Wolfenden, assistant vice president for alumni relations. “Lori will expand an already strong group of volunteers who regularly return for on-campus career services programs, invite students to gain on-site work experience, and seek to fill positions with Lehigh graduates.”
Kennedy, who replaced Donna Goldfeder after she retired in August, brings a wealth of experience in career development and employer relations to her new role.
In her former position at Lehigh, Kennedy was the director of alumni career solutions and volunteer engagement. She and her team launched one of the first alumni career programs that combined webinars with personal career coaching. Their work garnered national attention and was featured in The New York Times for pioneering a new program that could meet the needs of mid-career professionals. Kennedy gave presentations to more than 400 colleges and universities on how to develop and launch alumni career programs.
“Career solutions uses a blended approach to meet alumni career needs through web seminars, individual career coaching, networking, workshops, e-mail exchange and online tools,” she says. These services, she adds, are for graduates who have been Lehigh alumni for more than a year.
“Nationally, many universities are not staffed to provide services to alumni, which is why Lehigh’s unique approach is vital in providing continued support to our graduates.”
In the office of career services, Kennedy leads a staff that educates students and first-year alumni on how to make the transition from college to career. The main objectives are to teach career-related skills, help students gain practical experience in the workplace, and secure first destination plans in careers or graduate school. With the help of alumni volunteers, the career services staff offers professional, career and leadership development to promote student success.
Photo by John Kish IV