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Kelly Woods, Career Development Center



Name: Kelly Ryan Woods

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Hometown: Amherst, MA

Position: Associate Director of Career Advising

What do you do at Mount Holyoke?

I lead the advising team here at the Career Development Center. The CDC has a professional staff of 12 people, 6 of whom offer career advising.

When and how should a student start using the CDC?

We are present at orientation every year and have a role in introducing ourselves from the first moment people walk on campus. I think that most students first engage with us when they are looking at on-campus employment or internships, but we are available to all students. With first-year students for example, one of our advisors, Ju Hong, works very closely with the first year seminars and is attending classes and doing activities like the vision board projects. From early assessment to a student beginning to explore and articulate themself, all the way through to making strategic decisions about what their next steps are going to be and how they are going to get there, we are available to support students.

What is one resource that you wish students would utilize more?

I hope that every student has opportunity to engage with the CDC and find out what is best for them. I have a particular favorite. I love the What Can I Do With This Major website. It is a tool that I have found is really helpful in thinking beyond what our stereotypical idea of a particular field is and where that kind of work happens or where one might be able to apply their particular skills or interests. There is another fun one called Buzzfile. It is available for students with a college email address. You can create a profile to search for themes, majors or areas of interest and what kinds of companies could be involved in related work. Sometimes it pushes you past the companies that you think of first and helps you get new ideas about where people are doing work that is exciting to you.

What is informational interviewing?

An informational interview is a conversation that you have with someone about their experience. You can ask about the work that they do on a daily basis or their own path to that work or their perspectives on an industry. It is an opportunity to define your own questions for yourself and to find people that you can have a conversation with to complement the research that you do. We tend to do research independently online and in the dark. We get a lot of information that way. But until you have conversations with people who are doing it in the real world and have an opportunity to hear about their experiences you won’t know what it is really like. Sometimes what is written is not the same thing as what it feels like live. I think of it like trying on other people’s shoes without having to go to the shoe store for yourself yet. You get the chance to try it on and to discern for yourself if it feels like a good fit for you or how you would do it differently. The more diverse conversations you have with people, the more likely you are to see what resonates with you personally. The goal is not to do what someone else has done, the goal is to find the things that resonate with you and to explore those further yourself. And I think by seeing other people’s paths, you can get ideas about your own path. There is no one way to create success for yourself.

How did you come to Mount Holyoke?

I came to Mount Holyoke in 2013. I was here on a temporary part-time basis to provide additional support in the CDC’s walk-ins. When I was offered the opportunity to stay on I did! It is such a diverse community of learners and I am happy to be here. I moved into the position I am in now probably about a year and a half ago.

What was your career journey?

I went to school to be a nurse. I had done all the “right” things beforehand. I had taken Anatomy and Physiology in high school and I had volunteered. I also had family members in healthcare, so I knew what it was. When I got to college, I can confidently say that my goals did not change- I still wanted to be able to help people and I wanted to be able to be directly engaged with people. But what I found was that there were many other ways and places where I could more directly do the kind of things that I really got excited about. And it was in the courses that I was taking electively where I really started to notice that community cultivation, marketing and public relations, and youth development were areas of work that felt more like me and also were areas I felt compelled to pursue and explore.

I had an opportunity to do an internship as a student the spring semester of my junior year. I went abroad and volunteered for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. While I was there, I developed an internship project and did some independent research. When I returned I finished up my degree. I ended up with a Bachelors of Science in Natural Resource Studies. So I have a very eclectic science background in everything from geology to zoology. But I also intentionally took coursework that reflected the interest I had in nonprofit management and program development. And then when I graduated, my first professional job was as an older girl program specialist for a Girl Scout council in MA. I supported adult volunteers who were working with young people in programs. I also had a role in supporting leadership development programs and awards that the Girl Scout organization offered. From there, I ended up working in fund development. But I kept coming back to community cultivation and coaching. So, through fund development and alumnae relations I eventually came to career development. I came to Mount Holyoke in 2013. But prior to that, I had been a career director at two small colleges.

It’s funny because I can look backwards and reflectively see a very clear progression of the work that I was doing and a path of consistency. You don’t always see the path when you are on it necessarily, but for me I have been very fortunate in that I have been able to follow my strengths and my interests. And that the people that I have worked with have recognized where I’ve had strengths and have allowed me the opportunity to do things that I really get excited about.

What advice would you tell your younger self?

I think I would tell my younger self to be bold and to trust that things will work out. I have been very fortunate both personally and professionally to have been given diverse interesting opportunities to learn and grow. I think I had those opportunities because I didn’t hesitate from the work and I sought out additional responsibilities and had tremendous support and guidance from colleagues and supervisors.

If you would like to write for Her Campus Mount Holyoke, or if you have any questions or comments for us, please email mt-holyoke@hercampus.com.

Gauri Ganjoo

Mt Holyoke '19

I was the Co-Campus Coordinator of Her Campus Mt Holyoke for during my senior year of college. where I learnt so much and got to help others find their voice. I graduated in 2019 from Mount Holyoke College with a degree in Mathematics and a minor in Film Studies.
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