Libby Cole is a proud 2008 graduate of GCSU. Libby recently joined our Bobcat Career Network, a database of alumni mentors who help students with career and job search advice through Career Connection. She’s very enthusiastic about her career and I asked her if she would like to share some information and advice to our current students.
1. What is your current job title and what do you do?
I am the Assistant Director of the Higdon Student Leadership Center at the College of Charleston. I am the head advisor of our Dance Marathon, which raises money for the MUSC Children’s Hospital, overseeing an executive board of 10 students. I coordinate a program called Leadership CofC, which is a prestigious program of selected juniors and seniors who meet once a month with influential people in the community to discuss leadership and network with each other. I coordinate and oversee a program called the LeaderShape Institute, which is a 6-day leadership retreat. I also work with many departments and students groups on campus as a resource and give presentations, seminars, and workshops on various leadership topics. In my office, I am also in charge of designing our annual report, creating marketing material, and maintaining our website.
2. What do you like best about your job?
Without a doubt, what I like best about my job is working with the students. Even when I am incredibly busy, which is often as you can imagine from the description above, I love having them stop by my office just to chat. It is also amazing to be in a field where you can make a difference in other people’s lives. Whether it is the money I help raise for the Children’s Hospital or when you see the “light bulbs” go on in students’ heads as you’re working with them. I recently had a student from my first year working here e-mail me and tell me that she was using much of what she learned in Leadership CofC in her new job and she just wanted to say hi and thank you. Those are the moments when all the long hours and stress are worth it.
3. What was your major while at GCSU?
I was a Psychology major, with a Rhetoric (public speaking) minor, and I completed a certificate in Leadership.
4. What sparked your interest in higher education?
I like to say that I do exactly what I did in college, but I get paid for it. I don’t know many people who would complain about that. I honestly was living in Charleston, after my husband’s job brought us here, not knowing what I wanted to do. I considered going straight into graduate school in School Psychology and then found this job at the College of Charleston. I felt like the job description had my name written on it, as I was very involved in the Leadership Programs at GCSU and worked with Dance Marathon all four years as an undergraduate student. I never even thought that this could be a career for me, but now I encourage students all the time to look into the field of Student Affairs.
5. Did you do an internship or some other out-of-class experience?
I did an internship with John Bowen in Leadership Programs in the Office of Academic Engagement my senior year. Then, I thought it was just something I enjoyed and was involved in and did not imagine it would someday be my profession. I am so grateful for that experience looking back, and know it must have happened for a reason. Like I said, my involvement in the Leadership Programs, the Leadership Certificate Program and the Georgia Education Mentorship program, and my leadership roles held in Dance Marathon were absolutely the reasons I got this job. My public speaking minor also helped with my interviewing and presentation skills necessary for this job.
6. What are your future goals?
Currently, I am half way through my Master of Education in Counselor Education with a concentration in Student Affairs and College Counseling program at The Citadel Graduate College. I am hoping this degree, combined with experience, will help me move to a Director level position in the field. In the more distant future, I hope to complete a doctoral degree and move to higher administration as a Dean of Students or a Vice President of Student Affairs. I recently completed an internship with the College of Charleston’s Executive Vice President for Student Affairs, Victor Wilson. During the summer, he gave me an in-depth look at what his position entails and what I can do to aspire to that level.
7. What career or job search advice would you like to share with GCSU students?
My mantra while at GCSU and still while working with college students here at College of Charleston is to get involved! My involvement during my undergraduate years was what qualified me for the job I have now. There are so many opportunities at GCSU that will be fun and educational, but will also make you more marketable in the tough job environment we are in. When you’re searching, stay positive and use any connections you have made. When you’re interviewing, make sure the interviewers feel like they know you when you leave the room. Don’t be afraid to lighten up, show your personality, and dig a little deeper with your answers.
If you would like network with Libby or other mentors in the Bobcat Career Network, then login or register in Career Connection at www.gcsu.edu/career.