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Spotlight – Gary Alan Miller, Hofstra University

Gary Alan Miller

Executive Director of the Career Center, Hofstra University

miller_gary_alanGary earned a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication from Middle Tennessee State University and a Master of Science  in Social Foundations of Education from Georgia State University.  He recently moved to New York and started in his new role at Hofstra on March 10, 2014.  Welcome Gary!

What was your career path to get your current role? I’ve had a path that seems logical only with hindsight. I began at UNC in 1994 doing registrar-type work. From there I got into academic advising at Georgia State University, which then led to an advising/career counseling/internship program management position at the University of Washington. I returned to UNC in 2008 and spent time as Assistant Director for Social Media and Innovation at University Career Services and Senior Assistant Dean in Academic Advising before taking this role at Hofstra.

What was your first job? My first job ever was when I was 14. It was for a department store, assembling bicycles. It was just about the perfect job for me at the time, because I was into BMX bicycle racing as a teen.

Why did you choose this career? Career services provides the most fulfilling combination of helping students, being creative, using technology and creating an high-performing team.

What is the skill that is most important in your current role? Since I’m new to this role, my response is more theoretical than practical. But, I think my primary charge will be to make sure my team is happy and serving our students in ways that are meaningful.

How did you develop this skill and how do you fine-tune it regularly? I read a lot – I devour information from Twitter and Flipboard; I read books; I talk to colleagues on LinkedIn (and at conferences and so forth). But, mostly I keep the mission front and center.

Did you have a mentor? I don’t know that I have one mentor, per se. But, I have had a number of people who have been influential in my thinking and who have made me see more of my capabilities. The latest in the line of these individuals is Ray Angle at UNC.

Did you hold any EACE leadership roles? This is my first time living in the EACE region. So, I haven’t been involved at all yet. I am currently on the board of SoACE and have served with both North Carolina Career Development Association and NCACE, and I have had a great experience in those organizations. I look forward to connecting to EACE now that I live in NY!

What is your biggest career accomplishment? Aside from the many students I’ve helped over the years, I think the study on career center innovation I did with my UNC colleague Katherine Nobles was a high point. From that study, we wrote 5 articles for NACE, presented at NACE and SoACE and contributed an article for the book that Manny Contomanolis and Trudy Steinfeld compiled last year.

hofstra_careercenterWhat is your advice to students looking for their first job? Be resilient and persistent. But, don’t put the pressure of “finding your passion” onto the search. Find work that is fulfilling to you and fits your values. But, these things will change over time and you should not feel anchored.

What is your advice to young professionals in the field who aspire to your current role? I recommend you read and write as much as possible. I’ve found it tremendously easy to write for and present at professional associations over the years, and I have done so out of professional curiosity. Let your curiosity lead you to interesting concepts, and then put your thoughts on how those might impact career services into writing.

What was the best career advice you have ever received? The best career advice I’ve received has been encouragement for me to better understand my capacity for leadership. Sometimes we just need to be pushed to be more, and I’m grateful that people have done that for me.

What would you like colleagues to know about your organization? I have a lot that *I* need to learn. But, I am confident I am going to be met by an extremely capable team who are doing and will continue to do interesting, meaningful work. My primary efforts will be focused on helping them unleash all their creativity in service of helping Hofstra students accomplish their goals.

Gary did not visit his career center while in college.

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