Dr. Rachel Larson, director of the Business Career Center, needed some career inspiration after graduating from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. She relied on her connections at Nebraska to shape her outlook and put her on a path to an award-winning leadership position at the college.
Meeting Dr. Chris Timm, her supervisor as a graduate student at the university’s Career Services, sparked Larson’s interest to delve into a career development position. Her undergraduate degree in advertising and master’s degree in student affairs soon provided her with a wide range of possibilities.
“I first met Chris when she coached me as a recent alum,” said Larson. “Hoping to change careers, I saw firsthand how Chris empathized and connected with students, especially those struggling with their future path. After I chose student affairs, she laid a strong foundation for my future career, teaching the basics of career services in a caring way that also pushed me to go beyond my comfort zone.”
The work with Timm helped Larson make a bold change and leave Nebraska for five years at the University of Connecticut doing work directly related to career development and training. She not only honed her abilities in résumé critique and practice interviewing, but also developed skills working with other people in a supervisor and training capacity.
“Chris modeled a genuine student-centered approach that I incorporated into my own career coaching with students. Her training helped me be confident as I entered career services full-time at a university across the country, where we kept in touch. When I returned to Nebraska and became the director of the Business Career Center, Chris remained my mentor and confidant,” she said.
Larson’s efforts provided business students a career development office within their own college for the first time. She received the Carl A. Donaldson Award earlier this year for excellence in management by the University Association of Administrative Development (UAAD). Timm, who joined the College of Business herself in 2015, believes the award was well deserved.
“Rachel has done a great job of being strategic and moving us forward in a short time frame,” said Timm. “To have the Business Career Center grow this much and get national recognitions for our programs speaks about her as a leader.”
Timm pointed out Larson regularly recognizes staff for their work. She also sees others on campus recognizing Larson by changing their business practices.
“Her vision helped us all along the way, and now that vision is being reflected by other areas on campus. They want to see how we’re doing things and look at our successful efforts. We are fortunate to have the support of the college to allow Rachel to make this all happen, and as others see what we’ve accomplished it can grow across campus for other career service professionals,” said Timm.
Celeste Spier, associate director for career and professional development, believes Larson’s transformative abilities are particularly applicable to the Business Career Center. She sees a synergy between the growth of her office and how it reflects in the student population.
“We’re a learning office, and Rachel supports that by giving us opportunities to learn, grow and understand future trends that push us forward. She always has a focus on the strategic plan and how everything we’re doing is tied to those future goals. Her ability to see that bigger mission and vision support everything we do for business students.”
Larson joined Dr. D’vee Buss, assistant dean for undergraduate programs, and Rik Barrera, associate dean of student services and chief operating officer, as Donaldson Award winners from the College of Business. Buss received the award in 1993 and Barrera in 2011.
The Business Career Center develops services and programs for more than 4,000 business students, alumni, employers, faculty and staff. To learn more about the Business Career Center, visit: https://business.unl.edu/current-students/business-career-center/