2016 Professional Development Scholarship Recipient – Tara Stevenson, Flagler College

Five months post NACE-MLI and I still think, “Wow, how did my head not explode in front of all those people??”  Cause that’s exactly how I felt while sitting in the back row, looking out at 60+ Career Professionals as we got ready to embark on a five-day journey of professional soul searching and reflection on the strengths and weaknesses of myself and my own department at Flagler College.

To give you a bit of background, I am in my eighth year with the Career Development Center at Flagler College in Saint Augustine, Florida.   This year marks my fourth year as the Director.  I quickly became involved in SoACE after I began my current role, serving as a chair for the Career Advising Knowledge Group, becoming a SoACE Mentor, and presenting at annual conferences.

On a whim, I saw the SoACE Scholarship email around the same time I looked through various associations for professional development opportunities.  When I came upon NACE-MLI, I thought, “Why not?  Let me put my scholarship application in on the deadline day and see what happens!”  Lo and behold, I was honored to be selected to not only represent Flagler College, but SoACE as the scholarship recipient and become a member of the 2016 MLI class in St. Louis, Missouri.  In a whirlwind, I completed my applications and pre-requisite work for MLI and set my travel plans in motion for the summer.

Shortly after the school year ended for the summer, I took some time to completely revamp our office with our Assistant Director.  We went through a name change, overhauled our campus programming and developed a new rebranding strategy.  Our office finally received the approval to hire a new coordinator, putting our office at a staff of three instead of the two we always operated under.  Talk about a couple new changes happening quickly and all at once!  Little did I know, the timing could not have been proven more perfect as I set out to travel into the deep space nine of leadership versus management, strategic planning, ethics and finance and marketing all within the sphere of career development at a college campus.

I won’t go through every single thing we covered, nor will I bore you with my inner monologue of the week, but here are a few of my takeaways, milestones, or profound impacts:

  • “You can be in a management position where no one wants to follow you.” – Matthew Brink, NACE
  • I’m a Squiggle…or maybe a squiggly triangle…and that’s ok! I stood up for my group on the first day of MLI when I felt we were looked at as the “crazy” ones.  Being spontaneous, thinking outside of the box and keeping up high energy is a great thing.  My control freak, challenging the process, literal self is also a great thing.  Taking pieces of both of them helped me hone my leadership style.
  • Feedback is essential to my success as a leader. Given the opportunity to see what my direct reports, co-workers and supervisors see in me through the Leadership Practices Inventory provided the perfect boost to understand what I need to continue and also work on as I continue to develop myself professionally.  Erin DeStefanis, NACE, even took the time to further dive into my areas for growth.
  • “Ask for what you need; people can’t assume what you need.” – Kathleen Powell, William and Mary. Strategic planning is hard, especially when you are constantly proving to your campus and colleagues the value you bring to the students and community.  This was where I struggled during the week.  Instead of feeling the boost of excitement, I feared if I could accomplish what MLI was encouraging me to tackle.  Taking a look at stakeholders, processes, mission statements and outlining goals is vital to the success of a department.  This wasn’t something I could focus on that week, but plan to keep revisiting.
  • “If you can’t change the people, change the people.” – Trudy Steinfeld, New York University. It takes a minute to wrap your head around that one, but the direct approach Trudy takes will always win me over.  Sometimes we can’t change the people and understanding that simple point, will save you energy.
  • I still do not know specifically what I would do if given $1,000,000 for my department, but Ray Angle, you better believe I am allocating our funds in a more direct approach. Only you could make a four-hour budgeting seminar intriguing and engaging, even if my department’s budget per student was the lowest of the group.
  • Add ethics on top of budgeting and finance, plus my birthday all in one day? If my brain hadn’t already exploded, it was on the verge.  But Norma Guerra Gaier, Texas State University, found a way to get us all talking about it, helping us find more similarities across campuses than we originally thought.
  • “You can have the best of everything, but if your brand is non-existent, you mean nothing.” – Christian Garcia, University of Miami. So fetch.  Which also pushed me to create my own Twitter account.
  • When you select the picture of a thinking gorilla to represent something you’ve overcome, stand by it and run with it. Because when I looked at that picture, I saw how much I grew over the past few years and what MLI taught me challenged me to undertake over these next few years.

I believe I can comfortably say, 2016 took it out on all of us.  Whether it be professionally or personally, this year tested us all, myself included.  My week at NACE-MLI overloaded my brain, but ultimately I know I’ve used many of the points we discussed and deliberated each day since.  I might not see direct results, or even know I am doing it, but bits and pieces come back.  If it was not for the SoACE Scholarship, I don’t think I would have been given this opportunity to attend MLI.  I am already thinking about the next class and who will attend.  What will their takeaways be?  Can I one day encourage someone else to attend?  Dig down deep into themselves, get a little touchy feely (one of the low points for me!  Haha), but eventually see how it shifted and molded their leadership style.  I can only dream…And hope someone is listening.





Letter from the President – Mary Mahoney


Happy New Year SoACE Members!

I know it is already mid-February, but I still want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and hope that 2017 has started off well for everyone. I can’t believe how quickly time flies by. It seems like it was just the other day that I was enjoying the warm sand and sunshine with SoACE members in Ft Lauderdale, and now we are all back in our offices probably bundled up from the cold and working on job fairs.

SoACE is busy planning opportunities for members to participate in throughout the year. The KGs and Professional Development are preparing webinars on various topics, the dates have been set for the Employer Relations Summit which will be June 14-16 in Nashville, TN, and work has started on the Conference where we will celebrate our 10th year as SoACE!

I encourage you to stay current with our opportunities by checking the website, being in our LinkedIn group, reading the blog and checking your email for important updates from SoACE.

Take care and in the midst of our busy days always be sure to find time for yourself!

Mary Mahoney
2016-2017 SoACE President
The University of Tennessee
Center for Career Development

SoACE Updates!

Hello SoACE Members!

As many of you prepare for the first career fairs of the year, the SoACE Marketing Team would like to share with you a few important updates that will help make 2017 the best year yet.

SoACE Connections Blog

Starting this year, the SoACE Connections blog will be your source for SoACE news as well as relevant educational content.  SoACE updates that previously were delivered to you through the SoACE newsletter will now come in smaller, more frequent announcements made through the SoACE Connections blog.  Letters from the president, Knowledge Group Updates, Event Updates, Diversity and Inclusion News, and SoACE Kudos will still be coming to you but will be hosted from our SoACE Connections blog. One benefit of running our communication this way is that members can still receive information from SoACE regardless of when their membership is renewed.  Be sure to enter your email in the subscription box on the right side of the page so that you stay connected!

SoACE 10 Year Anniversary

This year’s annual conference will be the 10th annual SoACE Conference, but we don’t have to wait until December to start celebrating!  To help kick off the celebration of this important milestone, we invite you to share your favorite #SoACEMoments.  Do you have any pictures from any of the last 10 years of SoACE that you would like to share?  If so, please send them to Heather Scarboro, Marketing Committee Co-Chair.  The SoACE Marketing Committee will be posting these photos on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook throughout the year for #ThrowbackThursdays.  We will also feature them in the conference slide show in San Antonio.

We are looking forward to seeing and sharing the fun and friendships from the last 10 years of SoACE.  To join the conversation, please like check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.