Spotlight – Eletta Kershaw, IBM
University Recruiting Program Manager and Team Lead, North America University Recruitment, IBM
Eletta attended Denision University. She has been in her current role for 15 years and with her IBM for 36 years.
What was your career path (previous roles) to get to your current role? During my time at IBM, I have held numerous headquarters staff and management positions in operations, education and training, finance, sales support, and HR. During my assignments in education and training, I had the opportunity to gain exposure to the HR management community which then opened doors in recruitment several years later.
What was your first job? I joined IBM in a sales branch office in an administrative/sales support position.
Why did you choose this career? I knew from the time I joined IBM that I wanted to be a college recruiter. I was attracted to the role for so many reasons….selling the incredible benefits and values of IBM, networking with and coaching students, and spending time on a college campus were all incredible perks to me! It hardly feels like work!!
What is the skill that is most important in your current role?Without a doubt, I consider adaptability the single most important skill. We live and work in a fast-paced and ever-changing world and the landscape in our particular field is continuously evolving. Being adaptable demands being nimble and forward thinking and anticipating change.
How did you develop this skill and how do you fine-tune it regularly? It takes discipline. I remind myself regularly to focus on the changing needs of my clients. (It’s important to note here that my clients are varied….students, career offices, business unit recruiters, my management, my team.) I find that I am constantly expanding my knowledge base and the definition of my clients’ needs. That growth and understanding occur most when I am in peak listen, evaluate and reflect mode.
Did you have a mentor? If so, how did that mentor help in your career development? Since ‘mentors’ were not defined as such when I started at IBM, I’ve not gone out of my way to seek a formal mentor. That said, I do have a handful of associates, many of them former managers, with whom I have a strong, proven relationship and to whom I turn for candid feedback and guidance.
Did you hold any EACE leadership roles? If so, how have they helped in your career? I served on a committee quite a few years ago. It may be time to get involved again!
What is your biggest career accomplishment? My greatest accomplishments are the balance, longevity and diversity of my years at IBM! I’ve been with one company, and enjoyed the expertise and respect that comes from staying in one job for many years, experienced constant learning and change, while always maintaining great balance to devote time to my family.
What is your advice to students looking for their first job? Be disciplined and diligent. Set aside a dedicated time each week for your due diligence. Develop a system which includes regular networking and online searches. Finally, be open to all possibilities and when you land that first job, tackle it with gusto. It will be noticed!
What is your advice to young professionals in the field who aspire to your current role? There are multiple ways to become part of recruitment. My personal belief is that the value of a college recruiter is enhanced with time. The more knowledge you possess of the organization you represent, the greater your contribution can be. So consider growing with an organization and gaining depth of knowledge which can then be transferred to recruitment.
What was the best career advice you have ever received?For me, it was to go with your gut. Follow your instinct. If something feels right, go for it. If it feels wrong, there is a reason so slow down and re-evaluate.
What would you like colleagues to know about your organization (i.e. hiring practices/programs)? At IBM, we value Dedication to our Clients, Innovation that Matters, and Trust and Responsibility in all Relationships. At IBM, there is ground-breaking and exciting work being done which is making an impact on the world around us. For opportunities, please visit ibm.com/careers.
Eletta did visit her career center when she was in college.