Patrick Keebler, the Director of BW Career Services, is one part of a larger staff who’s primary mission is to facilitate the social mobility for all students through career outcomes. Their day to day work involves serving as educators, connectors, facilitators, influencers, skill developers, and content providers.
Keebler said his “role is to establish a vision for our work along with determining the strategic priorities necessary to achieve this vision. A big part of my job also involves harnessing the necessary resources and positioning us organizationally so that we can serve the career needs of all students.”
Keebler explained that the field of career development was founded by Frank Parsons who, in 1908, helped recently arrived immigrants discover how their skills, abilities, and interests fit into the world of work in America during the industrial age.
“Parsons was first and foremost a champion of social justice in a time of dramatic social and industrial change. The events of the past year have reminded us that career development work is indeed social justice work,” said Keebler.
When Keebler was 23, he was working as a Human Resource Assistant for New York University, but was still struggling to find his calling in life.
“My father was a religious minister so helping others in that way was also important to me, but I knew I wanted to do it in a more secular manner. I was also interested in labor markets and [when I was] working in Human Resources, I became very interested in the role of work in our society and the impact that one’s job has on quality of life. NYU offered a graduate degree in Counseling with a concentration in Career Development. I enrolled, finished the program, and have never looked back,” said Keebler.
Keebler has had the opportunity to work in both corporate settings and higher education. That blend of experience, he said, “has provided me with perspective and an agile mindset. We’ve gone through a period of enormous change here in Career Services so appreciating the challenges inherent in that and helping others manage through it is also important.”
Keebler also said that the job requires a lot of patience, a willingness to take risks along with the courage to try new things, and a resolve to forgive yourself “because every day I make mistakes, but I learn from those and they make me more effective in the long run.”
One of the difficulties that Keebler has to take into account is the many stakeholders (students, parents and families, alumni, faculty, staff, administration, and employers) when making decisions. Because BW Career Services are continually implementing improvements to their curriculum, they are also working through some difficulties with integrating career education.
Keebler said it’s “an enormous challenge but we are fortunately in a good place and have already had some early wins which we can build on.”
BW Career Services will soon have a new home and a new name. They recently received a very generous financial gift from Union Home Mortgage and with that they are building out a new space located on the garden level of the Student Union. The center piece of the new space will be the Union Home Mortgage Career Studio along with a large walk-in Career Closet where students can obtain free donated professional attire.
“As for the new name, I can’t tell you that yet, but stay tuned as it will be announced all in good time,” Keebler said.
As to his current position, Keebler said, “as you can imagine helping students with their career outcomes and achieving post-graduation success in the professional world is pretty serious business. But it’s work that I’m blessed, privileged, and honored to do. I can honestly say that I wake up and always look forward to the workday ahead. I’ve worked at a lot of great places, but BW is the one I’ve enjoyed the most! Besides being able to work with and lead a very talented group of people, the most rewarding part of my job is getting to know and work with students and then keeping track of them through LinkedIn and watching their careers unfold as they find meaning and purpose in their work.”