Spotlight – Sharon Hansen, Ursinus College
Associate Director for Employer Relations, Career and Professional Development at Ursinus College
What was your career path to get your current role? I worked in Residence Life as a Resident Director at Alfred University while obtaining my Master’s Degree and then as a Residence Coordinator at Kutztown University for several years. Following that, I was fortunate to be hired to join the Bi-College Career Development Office at Bryn Mawr College & Haverford College. I began as Recruiting Coordinator and was promoted several times leading to my final role there as Associate Director for Employer Relations. After almost twelve years at BMC/HC, I was hired to fill the newly created position of Associate Director for Employer Relations at Ursinus College.
What was your first job? I was a retail sales associate at Mid-Island Department Stores on Long Island.
Why did you choose this career? During college I was highly involved on campus in many capacities, including as an RA and a Tour Guide. As a senior it became clear to me that a career in higher education administration would allow me to blend my psychology major with the type of work that I enjoyed. The field of Career Services provides the ideal balance of working with bright young college students as well as professionals in the world of work beyond the college campus.
What is the skill that is most important in your current role? I have to answer this with two things. The ability to build and maintain relationships with students, employers, and faculty/staff is at the heart of my work. Also, one must be extremely well organized to execute employer relations activities effectively.
How did you develop this skill and how do you fine-tune it regularly? Lots of practice combined with excellent mentorship and guidance. To keep current, I read a lot of professionally related books and attend professional development activities whenever I can. I also frequently ask colleagues for ideas.
Did you have a mentor? Yes! I have learned so much from my mentor, Amy Feifer, with whom I worked during my time at Haverford/Bryn Mawr. Amy really “gave me my wings” in the field- through providing a solid understanding of the Career Services field and the critical role of a well-planned and balanced Employer Relations program. It was also through her mentorship that I became involved in EACE.
Did you hold any EACE leadership roles? I have been involved in EACE in many roles over the years. I have chaired committees, co-chaired an annual conference, and served on the Board. My experience in EACE helped me diversify my skill set and allowed me to build relationships with colleagues outside of my institution, all while having a lot of fun!
What is your biggest career accomplishment? I like to think it hasn’t happened yet! To date, developing and implementing the first ever Extern program at Ursinus has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my work. The students said such wonderful things about their experiences and were very grateful for the chance to get “out there” in the world of work. The alumni felt very good about giving back to UC in that way and enjoyed sharing their time with the students. Above all, the pictures we received of our students together their extern sponsors and testimonials we received warmed my heart. A win for everyone!
What is your advice to students looking for their first job? Be open to possibilities and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
What is your advice to young professionals in the field who aspire to your current role? Talk to as many people as possible, join organizations such as EACE, MACE, MACCA, DVCP, NACE, attend conferences, and find a mentor in the field.
What was the best career advice you have ever received?: That it’s okay not to know the answer, and it’s important to be honest about it when you don’t. Just know where to look to get the information you need.
What was the best career advice you have ever received? That it’s okay not to know the answer, and it’s important to be honest about it when you don’t. Just know where to look to get the information you need.
What would you like colleagues to know about your organization? Ursinus College is a warm community of exceptional students and dedicated faculty/staff. It is an exciting time at the College with new programs and initiatives on the horizon. The Career and Professional Development Office, in particular, is staffed by a group of smart, talented, dedicated, and incredibly fun women who are a pleasure to work with!
Sharon visited her career center while in college.