Spotlight – James Westhoff, Husson University
James Westhoff, Husson University
Director of Career Services, Husson University
James received a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Economics from Colorado State University and a M.Ed. in Counseling and Career Development from Colorado State University. He has been in his current role and with Husson University for 4 years.
What was your career path to get your current role? I started at Colorado State University as a Receptionist in the Career Center in 1994. I applied and was accepted to the Master’s Program in 1996 and became a Graduate Assistant during my program. I moved to Maine in 1998 to accept a job at Bowdoin College as a Career Counselor and Internship Coordinator, and then moved into the Assistant Director role. I left Bowdoin in 2007 to work on a federal grant in workforce development for the State of Maine DOL. I started at Husson as Director in June 2010.
What was your first job? A Dishwasher and Prep Cook for the Fort Collins Country Club
Why did you choose this career? I fell in love with this career field when I took a Career Development course for Mid-Life Career Changers at the age of 25. Taking that course introduced me to the theories and content of this field and I literally fell in love with the field.
What is the skill that is most important in your current role? There are so many important skills. I think the most important is the ability to advocate and present on the importance of Career Services to many constituents. Public Speaking as an introvert is difficult for me, but I have learned what works for me to be successful most of the time in public speaking situations.
How did you develop this skill and how do you fine-tune it regularly? I am still working on this skill. I have learned to prepare myself, but not over prepare. I get in front of people as much as I can and that helps me be more comfortable. I also use my other skills of listening and empathy to draw people in.
Did you have a mentor? My mentor from Colorado State helped me see my effectiveness in this field and gave me much confidence in moving forward in the field early in my career. In addition, I rely on many connections as mentors and people I can go to with questions and support.
Did you hold any EACE leadership roles? I have been on the conference committee as the co-chair of programs and also co-chaired the Membership Committee. These roles introduced me to more colleagues and I learned so much from those individuals. Participating on the conference committee helped me learn more about how strong conferences are put together.
What is your advice to students looking for their first job? Relationship development with professionals is more important than developing superficial networking connections with lots of people. I try to help students narrow down their search to a core number of organizations and then help them establish deeper connections with professionals.
What is your advice to young professionals in the field who aspire to your current role? Get involved in professional associations. Develop many mentors. Take advantage of the free professional development in the way of webinars, workshops, etc. but definitely take the chance to go to live events as well. Don’t be afraid to present at these events on subjects you care about. One of the best professional development opportunities I had the chance to attend was the Management Leadership Institute through NACE.
What was the best career advice you have ever received? Don’t be afraid to change if you are very unhappy in what you are doing.
What would you like colleagues to know about your organization? The only way to apply for jobs at Husson is through our online portal. Bangor, ME is actually a really cool community that is developing and growing awesome cultural aspects.