On Monday Feb. 15, Donald Kjelleren assumed his new role as Director of the College Career Center. Kjelleren served as the Director of Professional and Career Development at Middlebury College for 17 years, specializing in finance, consulting and business. He received his MBA from the University of Pittsburgh and his BA from Dickinson College.
At Middlebury, Kjelleren helped establish a new advising model that integrated industry expertise, participation from diverse populations, and the creation of priorities within the program. He created industry-specific advising groups in order to further assist students with their career-searching needs.
Kjelleren decided to come to the College because of the academic program as well as the people who he interacted with while visiting campus. “The Williams liberal arts education is the pre-eminent learning environment of its kind in the world, and it’s easy to get excited about working here,” Kjelleren said in an email. “In addition, my decision was based on the passionate people I met while visiting campus, previous relationships with the center’s talented staff, the exceptional student and faculty reputation and lastly the curious happenstance that every other person in my life seemingly has a special Williams connection or story.”
Kjelleren’s goal is to line up the interests of the student, faculty and institution with the initiatives of the career center. “I hope to positively influence current and future generations of Williams students. My hope is to bring both a heightened level of student intentionality to the after-college project and to activate an institutional ecosystem supporting it,” Kjelleren said.
Kjelleren acknowledges that many students have questions about how knowledge generated at the College will figure into their lives upon graduation. “I hope to bring a fresh perspective that this can happen by boldly establishing an undergraduate developmental pathway that bridges academics with a wide array of cocurricular experiences and presents the world with a more complete and future-proof liberal arts graduate,” Kjelleren said.
“My vision is really quite simple and even reducible to a single word: that is, the Greek word arête,” Kjelleren said. This word means something along the lines of “being the best you can be,” or “reaching your highest human potential.” He believes that the career center should help students reach his or her potential, however he or she defines it.
“Operationalizing this vision necessitates adopting many of the core fundamentals that top career centers across the country offer, but we won’t stop innovating there,” he said. His hope is that the career center becomes the most trusted network of information for the students at the College. He believes that the career center will be successful when jobs line up with the needs of students and remain closely accessible. Kjelleren also says that the center should function as the main networking agency for alumni and employers. “The Center needs to evaluate and adopt the latest innovative career technologies like Career Path Mobile, Handshake, Talent Circles and In-App Notifications,” he said.
Kjelleren wants to work with students starting early in their time at the College to help guide them in a helpful direction. “My vision includes opportunities for every Williams student, of every major and interest, and I am extraordinarily privileged to lead a dynamic center of professionals who energetically work to affirm and accelerate all students’ post-graduate aspirations,” he said.
“We couldn’t be happier with the appointment of Don as director of the career center,” said former Interim Director of the Career Center Michael O’Connor. “At Middlebury, Don successfully integrated the career services office into the broader fold of the campus, while building a unit of national prominence. Don brings a depth of experience and skill-set that will benefit not just our office and the division of college relations, but the Williams community as a whole.”
Kjelleren has already spoken with alumni leaders of the Class of ’66, who have set up a fund to support students directly who would otherwise not be able to take advantage of certain internships due to financial constraints. “This investment in excellence is what gets me excited about working at Williams,” he said.
“I personally invite students, student organizations, faculty, academic departments, staff, alumni, parents and friends to partner with us in order to actualize this future for every Williams graduate. To fully realize this potential it is going to take a whole village ecosystem of energizing advice, advocacy and delight,” Kjelleren said.
Kjelleren added, “Shift your focus from ‘What do you want to do?’ to ‘Who do you want to be?’ Be confident, dream big and don’t settle for less. Arête.”