The Marketing and Communication Office will be profiling Saint Mary’s University leaders regularly in the Cardinal Update. Our goal is to showcase those overseeing and guiding key areas important to our strategic initiatives. This week, we feature Kerri Carlson Anderson, director of Career Services.
Name: Kerri Carlson Anderson
Title: Director of Career Services
How long have you worked at Saint Mary’s?
I have been at Saint Mary’s just shy of three months.
How would you describe your role at Saint Mary’s?
I work to promote the recruitment, retention, and graduation of our students through career development, career readiness, and career search strategies. Whether it is an incoming student trying to determine their major, a graduate student, or even an alumnus/na who is already established in their career, it is meeting them where they are at and helping to connect them with the resources, network, tools, and support to achieve their career goals.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I enjoy being able to connect with the greater community to learn about the needs of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and employers and building out the future of career services at Saint Mary’s. To be able to lead the effort to build a strong Career Services program for our university is truly an honor that I don’t take lightly.
As director of Career Services, how do you hope to expand the services of the office to both campuses?
I am hoping we are able to find grant opportunities that the university might apply for along with donors who understand the importance of Career Services and want to contribute to our work so that we can add to our staff and more fully serve the majority of our students. In the short term, I am working with the associate director and our half-time administrative assistant to find ways to maximize the resources we do have. We will be rolling out a communication plan at the start of spring semester to show the ways we are here to help. I am also exploring ways we may partner with the counseling program to have practicum students in our office as well as tap into our talented Saint Mary’s alumni.
How do your role and the office you oversee help meet Saint Mary’s vision of developing “ethically-guided graduates leading in their communities and succeeding in their careers.”
Throughout college, students need to learn how to document and integrate what they are learning in the classroom, experiential learning, and involvement into the world of work. We are here to help students identify how they want to use their Saint Mary’s education and help them package it in a way to sell their experience and demonstrate to employers, graduate schools, etc., why a Saint Mary’s graduate is the best person for the opportunity.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
As a first-generation college student, I struggled as an undergraduate, and if you asked me or those who knew me during college, I was the last person you would have thought would go on to graduate school. However, I have learned to pay attention to the nudges. I fell in love with working in higher education and, to progress in my career, I needed to complete my master’s degree. I had wonderful mentors and supervisors who saw my potential, encouraged me, and provided the support and flexibility I needed to successfully complete my master’s program while working full-time and commuting three hours each week for two and a half years to do it. Of that same group of people who knew me in college, I was the first one to complete a master’s degree.
Looking at the “Declaration on the Lasallian Educational Mission,” which of the 12 declarations resonates with you the most? Why?
The declaration that resonates the most with me is No. 11, “We believe that today’s realities demand taking risks and being creative.” Part of what drew me to Saint Mary’s was the energy I felt and the commitment to respond to the changing needs in our world right now. If we intend to remain relevant and serve the needs of our students and the greater world, we have to change. Higher education is an investment, and students who are making the decision to invest their precious time and resources into their college careers need to see that we are preparing them to meet the needs of the time. While this change sometimes brings about endings and can be hard, it also allows for new growth and opportunities. In my career, I have often come into institutions at this point of key change, and I appreciated the challenge to work as part of the team to transform the work being done and see the results.