Spotlight – Kelley Bishop, University of Maryland
Director, University Career Center and The President’s Promise at the University of Maryland
Kelley obtained his Bachelor’s degree in English from Dartmouth College and his Master’s degree in Counseling from Indiana University. He has been with the University of Maryland in his current role since August 2013. He started his career path as Recruiting Coordinator, Career Services at Dartmouth College then moved to be an Graduate Assistant, Arts & Sciences Placement Office at Indiana University, Assistant Director, Arts & Sciences Placement Office, and then Associate/Interim Director, Center for Career Services both at Syracuse University, then at Michigan State University, Director of Center for Career Service and then Assistant VP, Student Affairs.
What was your first job?Assistant Librarian at Dartmouth College. It was a job that paid the bills and supported other pursuits: playing music in a band, mountaineering, woodworking–things I was passionate about but couldn’t make a living from. I later took a job in the career center because it paid more than the library job.
Why did you choose this career? Over time, I realized how much I enjoyed helping students navigate through the job search and figure out what matters to them. The process of discovery fascinates me. What catalysts trigger a person’s development toward a particular career path? Is it possible to incorporate those into the academic experience?
What is the skill that is most important in your current role? Two are equally important. The first is my ability to listen–to student clients, staff, administrators, faculty, employers, alumni, parents and colleagues. Hearing the different perspectives, aspirations and expectations helps me chart the course of our work. The second is critical thinking. I have a systems mindset and understand how changes to one part may affect another.
How did you develop this skill and how do you fine-tune it regularly? Studying counseling in grad school made an enormous difference in my life. It awakened something that had been untapped in me. I realized the power of listening as critical not just to helping an individual through the career development process, but also to interacting with anyone in the work setting. Because I’m naturally curious about a person’s “story” (hence my attraction to studying English literature), I’m inclined to rely on listening skills to see it through their eyes. It unlocks their motivations, their values, their hopes and fears, their strengths and weaknesses. I use this skill so frequently it’s really never not in use.
Did you have a mentor? If so, how did that mentor help in your career development? I’ve had many mentors but two stand out. Alan McNabb, the Director at Indiana University a the time I arrived for grad school, really invested in my development and pushed me to realize my potential. He gave me lots of guidance and exposure to Director-level issues. Barry Wells, the VP for Student Affairs at Syracuse, was a talented administrator who marshaled his resources and troops strategically. He was generous in spending time to improve my leadership skills and teach me about broader university issues. He was also a confident leader that I enjoyed following.
Did you hold any EACE leadership roles? If so, how have they helped in your career? Not at this time. I was a member of EACE during my time at Syracuse and Dartmouth, and I appreciated gaining a network of professionals in my chosen field. I have served on the NACE board of directors, and I was active in MwACE.
What is your biggest career accomplishment? Creating “12 Essentials for Success: A Guide to Competencies Employers Seek in College Graduates“. This publication changed the dialogue between employers and faculty–with the career center brokering the conversation–and consequently the way we are regrded by the institution. It allowed us meaningful access to academic imperatives and redefined our role.
What is your advice to students looking for their first job?: Focus on what you want to do rather than on what you want to get from a job. Hang out with people who are doing what you wish you could do. The opportunities are connected to them.
What is your advice to young professionals in the field who aspire to your current role? Spend as much time as possible understanding the mandates placed on the people above you, including the President and Provost. You need to see how your role, and that of the career center, can directly support their priorities.
What was the best career advice you have ever received? Deliver results to your stakeholders by the time they expect them.
What would you like colleagues to know about your organization (i.e. hiring practices/programs)?: The frontier for us here at Maryland is increased career exposure through non-traditional formats. One of the more progressive programs is called the “Career Shuttle” which takes small groups of students to on site visits with employers, especially ones rarely encountered at campus career fairs. They make important alumni connections, get an insider’s view from professionals in the field, and a chance to imagine life in a real work environment.
Kelley did visit his career center when in college.