Spotlight – Ingrid Peterson, St. Michael’s College
Associate Director of Employer Relations & Career Counseling, Office of Career Development at St. Michael’s College
Ingrid earned a Bachelor’s degree University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire and her graduate degree from Appalachian State University. She has been with St. Michael’s College for 19.5 years.
What was your career path to get your current role? I held an interim position in career counseling for nine months at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Prior to that, I worked in human resources for a short time right after grad school.
What was your first job? I was raised on a dairy farm so helping my family with whatever needed to be done was my first job. Once in college, I held a workstudy position in the Graduate Education Department. I also managed a Hello Kitty store–now that was fun.
Why did you choose this career? I wanted to pursue a career in human resources but shortly realized that it was the right job in the wrong environment. A friend suggested career counseling and after landing an interim position, I realized that career counseling was my passion.
What is the skill that is most important in your current role? Listening. Ensuring that I hear what a client is saying to me so I can assist in the best way possible.
How did you develop this skill and how do you fine-tune it regularly? I’ve learned that I just need to be in the moment with a client. Not thinking about the things on my desk or the recruiter down the hall. When I am with a student, they deserve my complete attention and focus every day.
Did you have a mentor? I don’t know that I’ve had a mentor in the strict sense of the word. However, I have always sought out people whom I respect and can go to with questions or ethical dilemas. It is important to always have someone who can be your “go to” person for advice.
Did you hold any EACE leadership roles? I held a number of leadership roles with EACE and they have all helped forward my career in some way. Early on in my career, I was Chair of the Diversity Committee and had to introduce the scholarship winners at the annual conference. I was nervous to present in front of so many people and it was a pivotal moment for me when I learned that the number in the audience is irrelevant if you’re confident in yourself and in your knowledge of the topic. I have never been nervous about presenting in that way again and if I hadn’t pushed myself to take on that leadership role, it may have been quite some time before I learned that valuable lesson.
What is your biggest career accomplishment? It is my day-to-day contact with students that I take most pride in. When I have a student that I don’t feel like I am connecting with and all of a sudden they give me a hug to thank me for my help, that is the reason I come into work every day.
What is your advice to students looking for their first job? Be prepared. Job searching is a game and you need to know what the rules are. Once you know and understand the rules and practice so you’re prepared, you can be successful.
What is your advice to young professionals in the field who aspire to your current role? Enjoy the moment. Working with individual students is incredibly rewarding and never take it for granted.
What was the best career advice you have ever received? You spend too much time at work to be miserable. Do what you love.
What would you like colleagues to know about your organization? We have fabulous students whose work will speak for itself.
Ingrid visited her career center while in college.