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Welcome to MCEEA’s Faces on Campus campaign!

Over the next year – we will be highlighting the career educators and employers who make up our great organization. Each week we will pay tribute to the individuals who devote their lives to helping students take that key first step into their professional career and the employers who welcome and develop them into the professionals they will become.

We hope you enjoy the insights, stories, and laughs of the people of MCEEA.

This week we will explore Cleary University and their Director of Career and Corporate Development – Amy Denton. Cleary University (www.cleary.edu) is a business-focused university founded in 1883 with locations in Detroit and Howell.

Joe Bamberger: For those that might not be aware, what do you do? What does a Director of Career and Corporate Development do?

Amy Denton: What do I do? Okay, that's a loaded question. So really, it's multifaceted. I'm Director of our Career Development Department. We are a mighty team of two, Lisa Tivy and I . So, in the Career Development role, it is our job to work with local employers, and a large part of what we do is working with students and mentoring students, really anything and everything career related. Polishing up their resume, building up their LinkedIn profile, getting them career ready, because we certainly want career ready graduates. Those four years go by so fast, we want to make sure they're not waiting until their senior year to backpedal and get all these things done. On the flip side, we also work with a lot of our employer partners. Building up those relationships, certainly posturing Cleary University to be the go-to business school, for their interns, for entry-level employment. We also work a lot with our alumni. We have lifetime career services. It doesn't matter if our alumni have been graduated two years out, or 22 years out. We offer them the same level of services. So that could be getting ready for interviews, helping job source, you name it. The second part of my position, and because you asked, I'm Director of Corporate Development as well. It's building our corporate partnerships and relationships. We have many different levels, of tuition benefits. For an employer, if it makes sense as a retention tool and added benefit into their profile, we can offer employer provided tuition assistance here at Cleary. For bachelor’s level programs, and master's level programs. We bridge that gap and offer that educational component. So, think of a traditional benefits package, medical, dental vision, what have you. We're incorporating education in to that package as well.

JB: How long have you been in your role?

AD: I've been in this role just about three years. I've been with the university five years in December. I started off at the university for a good two and a half years as an adjunct professor. I was teaching a lot of marketing classes, leadership classes, and international business classes.

JB: I'm assuming you had a career in a corporate industry prior to taking a role as a professor?

AD: You guessed it. I am a former district manager for a pharmaceutical company. I have a robust experience. 15 plus years in corporate America, fortune 500 companies, almost exclusively in the sales capacity. Outside sales, corporate sales, I was in pharmaceutical sales for quite some time, as a hospital Rep, and then I led a team of 16 throughout Michigan and the Midwest. So, I took that experience and worked it into the classroom.

JB: What prompted the change from working on the corporate side into higher education?

AD: I'll give you an interesting answer. I took a couple of years off. I loved my role. I loved what I did. I worked hard to get to that position as a DM, but I had two very small children at the time and my husband was traveling a lot with his job. I got bumped up to about 70% travel, and when you have two small kids at home and mom and dad are traveling, it doesn't always work. So, I took a, what I thought was going to be maybe a six month to year sabbatical. And I loved what I did. I stayed home with my kids, I think three years or so, just exclusively. And when I was ready to get back into the workforce, a good friend of mine, a personal friend of mine, was an advisor here at the university. And she said, “you know what, Amy? You'd be a great instructor.” And my first answer was heavens, no. University students, college kids, they're scary. They'll eat me alive. I'm not doing this. One thing led to another, I started teaching a very small class, once I agreed it was personal selling - 2000 level course. I thought, okay, I'll dip my toe in the water. Well, you can't dip your toe in the water at university, you just jump in headfirst. So I guess the rest is history.

JB: In the role you serve in now, what would you say your favorite part of your job is?

AD: Working with the students. Bar none. However, I also really enjoy the employers that I have the privilege of working with. I love that sales aspect that gets me going. What really kind of puts the tear in my eye and a smile on my face, it actually just happened this morning, is when a student comes in my office and says “guess what, I got the job, or I got the internship.” I enjoy being a part of that picture - that success. It's pretty cool.

JB: So if I'm an employer, that doesn't have a relationship with Cleary, why should I consider your students?

AD: Hands down, and of course, I'm biased, but our students, when they graduate, are career ready. We make sure of that from day one. Starting freshman year, we incorporate what's called the Cleary Mind, and it really parlays their academia, their majors, again, we're a business University, but it also peppers in fundamentals, such as critical thinking, problem solving, and entrepreneurship. We want our students to, and I know it sounds a little clich√©, but be ready from the classroom to the boardroom. We want them to be able to start employment upon graduation with an employer and be able to contribute. We really do pride ourselves in that fact. We get such great feedback from our employers, that our students, they “speak up”. They're not wallflowers. We do a lot of hands-on curriculum here at the university to get them the exposure they need. For example, internships, job ready skills, we start that right from freshman year.

JB: When you look at your student population, is there something from a career search or career readiness standpoint they struggle with the most?

AD: You know, it's hard to speak for all but I do see many struggle with confidence. Just being able to be assertive and really ask for that job. I know that sounds so elementary, but I tell our students all the time, if you're in an interview, show that you're confident, show that you can bring value and ask for that position. They're not going to give you that position, you need to ask, you need to show that hunger. That's one of the things, that we have been collectively working on. It's baby steps. Every student is at a different level, but that's probably the one big thing.

JB: Is there a particular major on campus that you find is the hardest to connect with career opportunities right now?

AD: The hardest to get career? Just off shooting from the cuff, probably our sports management might be a little more difficult because many of our students graduate at 22, 23, 24 years old, amazing individuals, they may have the internship experience, they have the academia behind them, but those jobs can be few and far between. What I mean by that, when we think of sports management or sports event management, these are our future athletic directors, these are, individuals that might even do corporate ticket sales with the NFL or NBA, and if you think of that, we're not the only university that offers that. Those jobs are tough. They're really tough. And we've had success. We've had many, of our graduates get those positions. But oftentimes, it's not right away. I mean, they're starting off, obviously, like many of us have, on that lower rung and then work their way up, especially now with COVID. There's not a lot of corporate ticket sales to be had, so a lot of these positions, which were scarce to begin with, have become even more scarce.

JB: When we talk about employers engaging students on campus, is there something you think stands out most with students, or something that you've seen an employer do that really resonated?

AD: Yes. We were pretty robust about two years ago, we took the career fair idea, and shrunk it down. What I mean by that is, it's in conjunction with the larger career fairs at the university. We were doing a lot more one on one recruiting events, so in the atrium of, one of our buildings that houses the majority of our classrooms, I would bring maybe three to four times a week, one employer in at a time. They would set up a table, same way they would do for a career fair, but it would be a career fair for just them. From an employer's perspective, they're not competing for attention. They're the only one. The students really liked it, because we found that there was a lot more organic conversation. We would advertise these. The students would stop by, on their way to class or on the way to the cafeteria, some might have T shirts and ripped jeans on. The employers knew that, and that was okay, because it was more of an information session. We had some of the greatest conversations and outcomes just from those very casual, almost like an employer meet and greet. So, by not calling it a career fair or a job fair, I think it puts both parties at ease.

JB: Do you have a least favorite part of your job?

When a student does not get the job or internship that they truly desire. It's the nature of the game, right? Somebody else has been chosen over them, I do get those tearful phone calls, those frustrated phone calls. I've had many tears in my office. It's tough because I get it, we don't always get every job that we interview for or apply for. It is what it is. There's 1001 different answers for that and explanations for that, and I don't always have the answers. But people tend to take that personal. I mean, how could you not right?

JB: No, of course it is. It's one of the things in life that we all have to deal with.

AD: That's probably one of the toughest, just encouraging people to pull themselves up by the bootstraps, and just keep on keepin’ on.

JB: Let's shift gears a little bit. How long have you been involved with MCEEA?

AD: It has been about three years. I was brought into it by default. My director at the time in Career Development when I first started, was in a little bit of a career transition herself. So, everything just happened at the same time. She was the current board secretary for MCEEA while she was an internal transition here at the university morphing more so from Career Development to Enrollment Management. She asked me to step in for her and fill in for her at a few MCEEA meetings. I was totally wet behind the ears. I thought, I've been on many Board of Directors before as a secretary, I thought, okay, I'll just take copious notes. I kept a smile on my face and took about seven pages of notes. Well, I did this a couple times. I got to know some of the members and, of course, enjoyed everybody, because they're just an awesome group. One thing led to another, and she did move over to that new position, so I stepped in as interim secretary. Well, I fell in love with it, so I ran for the role again, early last year, right before COVID, or right around COVID of 2020. And I was elected. I was interim and then now in an elected position. I'll tell you what, when the term ends, they're probably going to have to kick me out because I love being a part of the group. I really do.

JB: That's great! Do you have a favorite part of MCEEA as a whole?

AD: The people, honestly. The people, the relationships that I've made. I've even found over the past year that we haven't been able to get together in person. I missed everybody. I really do. I miss the pulse of the MCEEA conference. I'm a people person. If you can't tell. I just I miss that. Virtual is fine, I think we're all kind of getting used to it and embracing it the best we can. But there's nothing in my opinion that can replace that face-to-face conversation.

JB: Agreed. Let's pretend that MCEEA had unlimited time and money, what sort of programming or additional benefit could MCEEA offering to it's members? What's on your wish list?

AD: I would say development programs, appropriate development programs, or kind of a means to an end for development programs. What I mean, and we've talked about this in recent past meetings, but again, those SHRM certifications, or for people like me a way to get credentialed in Career Development. Whatever that looks like is individual, but just taking somebody's skill set and career path, and tightening it up a little bit. So definitely, adding or enhancing those accolades.

Faces on Campus is a weekly interview series highlighting members of MCEEA conducted by Joe Bamberger of Emerge Consulting. Be sure to follow MCEEA on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and MCEEA.org


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