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Outstanding Alumni – Allison McWilliams (PhD 2008)

Betz Kerley

Not everyone is lucky enough to find their dream job upon completion of their degree, but Allison McWilliams is one of the fortunate ones. In June of 2010, she landed the job as director of career education and counseling at Wake Forest University.

Her initial charge was to develop a culture of mentoring and to provide training, support, and resources for formal and informal mentoring across campus. However, it wasn’t long before her title and responsibilities were greatly expanded.

“I am responsible for strategic direction, budgets, and personnel matters related to our career counseling team. I have similar responsibilities for professional development, which is an area that we are cultivating to provide professional development training and support to liberal arts majors. I am the administrative and the programmatic director of the Mentoring Resource Center, so I perform the administrative duties and am responsible for the implementation of strategic direction. Career counselors are often talking about professional development—we use a lot of the tools and strategies of counseling in mentoring,” explains McWilliams. A lot of my role is to identify ways in which the three areas can and should most effectively collaborate for the benefit of the students.”

It’s no surprise that McWilliams’ biggest daily challenge is finding the time to meet all the demands of her job, but she couldn’t be happier. “I get the most satisfaction from the time that I spend with people, both students and also my colleagues, talking through goals and their personal development.

Reflecting on her time studying at the IHE, McWilliams says that, “Both Sheila Slaughter and Bettie St. Pierre (College of Education) taught me so much about history and research, and how important and amazing it is to be a smart woman. Going through a doctoral program in general is such an accomplishment and makes you realize that you really can set goals for yourself and achieve them.”

Her advice to current students? “Take advantage of every moment. Find a topic of study that truly interests and drives you. Seek out the help and counsel of the professors.”

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