Empowering Students to be Career and Life Ready

You can feel the energy as you walk into the modern interior of the building, formerly known as the Ampersand Center, and now the new van Vlissingen Center for Career and Professional Development (VVC). The ampersands painted on the wall are still relevant as the Career Center is all about connections. But, there are new faces, new ideas and fresh perspectives that lead the work of the Center.

Posted October 01, 2020

The van Vlissingen Center for Career and Professional Development Lee Svete, director of the Center, came to Emory & Henry with 30 years of career development experience, most recently with Wake Forest University and earlier with the University of Notre Dame.

“We passionately believe in our Emory & Henry students­­­—the future leaders in which we are investing our resources and expertise today,” said Svete. “We are so grateful for the faith and vision expressed by the van Vlissingens when they gifted the funds for the Center.”

Svete wasted no time tapping into the knowledge of the College and experience offered by long-time career services director Amanda Gardner, who now oversees internships. Paula McGraw moved from the E&H Admissions Office to serve as career center coordinator. New faces at the Center also include Christine Arias, career advisor, and Adria Hayden, assistant director of student employment. Trent Allen ’21 serves as peer advisor.

Five Pillars Support the Mission

The VVC’s mission is embedded in the Emory & Henry strategic plan, Pivot Toward the Future, 2020-2023, which stresses connections, accessibility and place. The Center’s work stands on five pillars, which include teaching students how to Learn, Work, Lead, Serve and Connect as strategies for students to become market-ready. A Fall 2019 gathering at the center which is conducive to discussions and learning. A Fall 2019 gathering at the center which is conducive to discussions and learning.

Learning the importance of career planning leads to major and career exploration. “We help students target their goals to choose relevant fields of study. They identify their skill sets and how those translated into future career opportunities,” said Arias. “We use a unique career assessment software application called Focus 2, plus our professional coaching and advising.”

The VVC also addresses a student’s interest in continuing their education. A third of Emory & Henry students go on to graduate school. “We’ve placed students in grad schools at Tulane University, Duke Divinity School, University of Richmond, University of California-Berkeley and William & Mary to name just a few.” Ninety-percent of students in the Class of 2020 have landed full-time positions or graduate school opportunities with a small percentage of graduates working in part-time jobs to save funds for further education, according to Svete.

The first step to gaining valuable work experience is student employment. “Working as a student isn’t just a way to make money, it is a way to integrate a student’s college education and enhance their marketability to reach career goals,” Hayden says. “Students typically work five to 10 hours per week, so it’s a great way to gain experience and strengthen their resume.”

Not only is the list of employers with which the Center has formed internship agreements impressive, but students get academic credit for testing a career field. “Internships can run in the fall, winter, spring or summer and can be pursued after the first year at Emory & Henry,” said Gardner. “The jobs are part-time, which means students are taking classes but also are going off campus and working with potential employers.” Pictured left to right, Center Director Lee Svete, Adria Hayden, Paula McGraw, Amanda Gardner; on... Pictured left to right, Center Director Lee Svete, Adria Hayden, Paula McGraw, Amanda Gardner; on-screen is Christine Arias, showing the virtual meeting capabilities in the center's conference room.

Even alumni are getting with the program. E&H Alumni Director Monica Hoel (’85) works closely with the Center and the alumni to network, advise and provide career opportunities to students. Alumni can also take advantage of career connections, according to Hoel. “Our alumni live all over the world and work in health care, media, education, research, business and many more areas. We help students connect with these professionals in specific majors or careers of interest.”

“Students can see what jobs are out there through ourE&H Connects,” said McGraw, “which is a web system where we post all student employment and work study jobs, along with internships, shawdowships, volunteer opportunities and even full-time jobs. Access is free and the listings are ever-growing.”

Director of Career Center Brings Award-Winning Experience

Lee J. Svete was named director of The van Vlissingen Center for Career and Professional Development at Emory & Henry effective July 1, 2020. Lee Svete Lee Svete

Svete was most recently the associate vice president for professional and career development at Wake Forest University from 2017-2020 and led the Center in earning awards of excellence including the NACE’s Diversity & Inclusion prize for Diversity Matters, and the NCDA’s Exemplary Career Center Program Award.

Prior to the appointment at Wake Forest, Svete spent 18 years as the associate vice president and executive director at the University of Notre Dame’s Career Center, leading the program to build a $20 million new facility as part of the Duncan Student Stadium Project in 2015-17.

Before Svete’s successful leadership at Notre Dame, he served as the director of career services at Colgate University (1995-99) and director of career planning at St. Lawrence University (1989-95).

Carrie Cannaday '02 Starscape Media One of the methods chosen to promote the new van Vlissingen C... Carrie Cannaday ’02 Starscape Media One of the methods chosen to promote the new van Vlissingen Center for Career and Professional Development was to shoot a video inside the center to give students and employers a feel for the modern facility and tools available and to introduce the talented staff of the Center. As a 2002 graduate of the Emory & Henry Mass Communications Department, we were excited to enlist Carrie Cannaday (above left) of Starscape Media in Abingdon for the project. (Please note Director Svete, right, removed his mask for the short intro to the video.) Visit to see the video.Sampling of Our Partners

The following companies and businesses work with E&H students to provide jobs and internships:

  • Amazon
  • Angel Oak Capital Advisors
  • Appalachia Service Project
  • Appalachian Trail Conservancy
  • AT&T
  • Ballad Health
  • Brown & Edwards
  • Collegiate School
  • Crossroads Treatment Centers
  • Eastman Credit Union
  • Ebay
  • Enterprise Holdings
  • First Community Bank
  • Food City
  • K-VA-T Food Stores
  • Monticello Media
  • PetSmart
  • SiriusXM Radio
  • Smyth Co., Va. Public Schools
  • Spectrum
  • Washington Co., Va. Public Schools

Our students have interned with:

  • Academy of Country Music
  • Ballad Health
  • Bristol Motor Speedway
  • Center for Disease Control
  • Charlotte Hornets
  • CNN
  • Discovery Network
  • Duke Health
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Norfolk Southern
  • Southwestern Va. Mental Health Institute
  • Strongwell
  • United Nations
  • U.S. Department of Justice
  • U.S. House of Representatives
  • Washington Co., Va. Circuit Court
  • WCYB-5 TV
  • William King Museum

We are working with Goldman Sach’s competitive Analyst Program in Investment Banking for 2021. This will be the first time that Emory & Henry has posted an entry level position with a top bulge bracket bank.

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