We are extremely excited to spotlight Laura Burrell. Laura is the Director of Internships and Experiential Education at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. She is truly inspirational to her students, someone who impacts her students’ lives every day in a million different ways – big and small. On a more personal note, she was also the very first university partner our Head of University Partnerships spoke with, in her first week at WayUp! She has so much to teach us, from knowing when to ask for help to how to meaningfully search for your dream job.
Educational background: BFA Fine Arts, MS Arts Administration
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I took a position in a career development office in graduate school focused on community service, service learning and internship program management. This led to me slowly begin to specialize in experiential education (also called applied learning) in and around career services within higher education.
What was your favorite part about working in career services?
There are a few, which include:
- The moment you see a student connect what they are learning to who they want to be
- When students start to see how many opportunities there are
- There is a really amazing creative opportunity for students to start to design their own position, which is fun to work with them on!
What is your favorite piece of advice to give to students?
If you send out 10 applications and receive no response, it is time to ask for help. Learn to read between the lines – it’s probably something in your approach that you could improve on or tweak for a better ROI.
What is the best advice you’ve given to or received from another career services pro?
Never stop. If you aren’t in your dream job then you are searching, applying and interviewing – always.
This is maybe for career changers, but I think it applies to young professionals, too. Start your ‘search’ by writing the job description of your dreams. It will help you identify a) if you need more training/specialization/education b) what your true priorities are (compensation, work/life balance, flexible start times) and c) what to look for in the companies and organizations you apply to or court so that you are aligning your values.
When you’re not helping students find jobs, how do you like to spend your free time?
I am rehabbing a house upstate; gardening; making art; biking around.
Here’s a question we love to ask everyone who visits the WayUp office – what was your favorite job in college?
Aside from working in bars and restaurants to pay for tuition, rent and art supplies, I also participated in a two year apprenticeship with a sculptor. I wouldn’t trade those years for anything, the insights were invaluable. It was really hard work most days but it was paramount for me to see the kind of work ethic one needs to succeed professionally as an artist. I made a life-long mentor, learned to negotiate for my needs and discovered a lot more about what I wanted in life.