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New executive director of Career Management and Academic Services working on her vision for student development

Wednesday, March 4 2015 12:00am

Jen Murphy steps into newly created role at College of Business

By Meredith S. Jensen
Ohio UniversityJennifer Murphy (1)

ATHENS — As the school year rolls through its last semester, the College of Business career management team’s new leader, Executive Director Jen Murphy, is looking to keep the momentum going. 

The position may be new for the college, but for Murphy, it’s a continuation of her lifelong goal to help students achieve their full potential.

 “I knew I wanted to be in the helping field,” she said. “And I knew that I loved working with students, so I put to the two together and decided that counseling would be a good fit with a focus on college students.”

Easing students’ worries about being “stuck” in a lifetime career is one of Murphy’s top priorities as director. While many of their parents have had the same careers their whole lives — doctor, teacher, etc. — a career in the modern business field is anything but permanent.

 “Most people now have an average of four careers — not four jobs — but four careers in a lifetime,” she said. “We’re educating students that you will likely be in your first job for one, two, three years and then you’re going to move on, or you’re going to get a master’s degree, or you’re going to shift gears. That’s normal. It’s okay to change your mind.”

On top of that, post-undergraduate options can vary by industry and student, Murphy said. She always tells students to consider their career goals and the value-add for a degree versus industry experience right away.

“It’s okay that they don’t know what’s next,” Murphy said. “We’re here to assure them that that’s normal part of life. And you might have moments like that again in your 30s, 40s, 50s, where you think ‘what’s next?’”  

Murphy completed her undergraduate work in communication at Purdue University in 2000, but it wasn’t until she completed her masters in counseling from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania that she knew she had found a career field that seemed tailor-made for her.

“The program at Shippensburg changed me as a person,” Murphy said. “It solidified my passion for college students and I committed myself to this profession forever. I definitely made the right career move.”

Her focus on college students has always been driven by their zest for life despite dealing with its oscillations. “Their energy with the uncertainty of life … it’s the quarterlife crisis that ensues when you are 22-25,” Murphy said. “That’s what I want to help students work through — the uncertainty, the what ifs, the what-am-I-going-to-do-next.”

Upon graduation, Murphy took an internship at American University as a career counselor, and then moved on to Indiana University as the assistant director for the Career Development Center, followed by a stint as a career counselor at Arizona State’s Career Management Center. But when a position opened up at American in 2008, Murphy jumped at the chance to head back to DC.

As the Senior Associate Director of Career Management at the Kogod School of Business, Murphy hit her stride. She rebranded the Center for Career Development, built career courses, developed a program that worked closely with MBA students on their career goals, and hired a staff that stayed together for over half of her term.

“A big [career] highlight for me was keeping the same team at AU for four years,” she said. “I had the same four people who would run through a brick wall for me. That, to me, is a sign of good leadership. It was a good team and having that experience taught me who I am as a leader.”

Working exclusively with business students was a new, welcome challenge for Murphy. While they seem like they walk through the door with their whole careers planned out, she said, just like every student, they need emotional and academic support, and guidance as they develop their professional autonomy.

“Business students are way more driven,” she said. “They seem to be more focused. Many of them have had parents or mentors in their lives that have given them good advice and pushed them toward the right things. I think that it’s our duty as a business school to continue that.”

The importance of good mentorship is not lost on Murphy. Her mentor, Larry Ward, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Babson University, was the one who told her about the OHIO job and encouraged her to apply. She’s committed to backing her students in the same way.

“That’s what my duty is as a student advocate — challenge and support appropriately,” she said. “It was nice to have a mentor that supported me through that process.”

Since January, Murphy has been working on setting up her vision for the College of Business. She wants to foster good relationships with students so they feel like their concerns matter and they get the appropriate amount of support, from their first year to their last.

“Just being here over a month, I am confident that I made the right decision,” she said. “This is a great community and I like the idea of building my strategy and vision around that. The support in the College of Business has been outstanding and I am committed to making this a better place for students.”

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UPCOMING EVENT: Career Management and Academic Services presents “Improve Your Job Search IQ” career planning workshop, Sunday, March 15. For information and details on registering, click here.