Pam Weller: A Legacy of Student Success and Career Development at Minnesota State University, Mankato

The technological advances alone have improved exponentially from what they were when she first started her career. Through these advances, staff now have the ability to reach students where they are more effectively. The simplicity of sharing job postings online, expediting communications with students, creating connectivity amongst students and hiring managers has created countless new opportunities for students to engage with career opportunities more effectively and easily. Weller adds that although “technology has definitely helped with [being more efficient and effective],” since they are an opt-in service, they primarily see only students who proactively seek out assistance from the CDC. Weller adds that in her experience, “a lot of times those students, their parents or a family member have given them a nudge, so what ends up happening is the students most needing assistance aren’t necessarily coming through the door, attending a career event, etc.” This led Weller and her colleagues in the CDC to take a look at how they can improve visibility and access to career guidance on campus amongst all students. They want to develop a philosophy of helping those who seek out their guidance and assistance, while also reaching out to those who may not be aware of the assistance and resources available to them. Weller notes that visibility did improve in the mid-2000s when they moved into their current space in Wigley Administration Center, which is big and bright. This move is one of her favorite memories in her time at the University.

Throughout Weller’s time at Minnesota State Mankato she is most proud of a few key initiatives and programs that have been developed. Outreach to various sub-groups on campus by creating partnerships with other departments and targeted programs and career-related communications are two improvements Weller highlights. Additionally, the faculty/staff Career Champions Program, now in its second year, provides an opportunity for faculty and staff to be trained to serve as a resource to the students they work closely with in order to aid in student career development. Since the faculty and staff work more frequently and closely with the students, the staff of the CDC developed this program with a “train the trainer” mentality. Around 200 faculty and staff have gone through the training to be considered a Career Champion. A goal of the Career Champion program is to increase career integration in the classroom, academic advising and in other areas of campus with Career Champions serving as career influencers.

Weller has learned a lot both about herself and how to best provide for students over her time at Minnesota State Mankato. She hopes that students know the CDC has programs, resources and tools that can be helpful for any major. Coming from someone who has worked closely in student success and career development, her advice for students is not to equate their major with their career. “Major doesn’t equal career, and I think sometimes people get caught up in that,” she says. “Approach your career path with your eyes open. Know what the opportunities and obstacles are for the field you want to go into, and invest in your own career development.” For professionals, she shares the advice that one must “take ownership of your career because no one else is going to.” She also suggests you “respect your individual style; don't necessarily strive to be like someone else. Incorporate your style into what you’re doing because that’s the way you are going to be successful.”

As she embarks on retirement, Weller looks forward to new adventures. While she wants to stay in the field in some capacity, she is unsure of what exactly that will look like at this time. What she does know for certain, though, is that she is looking forward to traveling and seeing the world. She also plans to spend more time with family, and is excited to see her adult daughter more. Her future in the field may remain uncertain, however, her impact on student affairs and career development at Minnesota State Mankato is undeniable—a testament to her enduring legacy of excellence and dedication.