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Taking Charge of Your Career

Fifth Annual W&M Professional Development Week Brings Networking, Expert Career Advice to W&M Community

March 21, 2023
By Claire De Lisle M.B.A. ’21

“Know thyself.” This ancient Greek aphorism, sometimes attributed to Socrates or Aristotle as “To know thyself is the beginning of all wisdom,” remains salient advice today. It was a theme woven throughout the fifth annual W&M Professional Development Week, Feb. 27-March 3, 2023, as the W&M community gathered in person and online to network and grow professionally. 

More than 1,300 registrants, including alumni, students, parents and friends, attended sessions throughout the week. Networking was a key component, with in-person events in key regions nationwide and an online networking hour for participants around the world to strengthen and expand their W&M connections. To view recordings of the online sessions, visit the Professional Development Week webpage or follow the links below.

“I met a couple people I know and reconnected with, a couple people with very similar backgrounds and locale, a couple people I could introduce to others in their fields and locales, and one person who offered to introduce me to someone else!”

“It was easy to dive into the online experience and start chatting with other alumni live who I may never have gotten to meet otherwise. I liked the eight-minute speed round format too since it helped to keep the convos brief and maximized exposure to a lot of great people.”

In online workshops and panel discussions, experts addressed ways to take charge of your career in this changing economy — starting with knowing your values, defining your personal brand and charting your goals. Kirsten Jones ’93 kicked off the week by challenging participants to think about what they would do if they had no limitations and take small steps today to make that closer to reality. Terry B. McDougall ’86 built on the theme by sharing ways participants identify their values, strengths and skills to guide them in their job searches. Amy Steindler ’80 shared the importance of having emotional intelligence to navigate impactful conversations, especially those around equity and inclusion, and tips for developing those skills. And to conclude the week, William & Mary Professor of Marketing Dawn Edmiston Ed.D. ’20 and Amy Alyson Teller ’98, M.B.A. ’18 provided key tips on how to leverage your personal brand as you grow your network. 

Alumni leaders in the HR space Latoya Asia J.D. ’09, Kristen Vaughan ’00, Clarke Havener ’80 and Kelsey Weissgold ’11 shared their insights into the job market and finding the roles (or the employees) that are best for you. They discussed the career pivots they made in their professional journeys and how mentors guided them along the way, helping them to see their strengths and growth opportunities more clearly. In today’s economy, they’ve found successful job candidates at any level or industry have a clear understanding of and appreciation for the company’s culture; and demonstrated learning agility, or the willingness and ability to learn new skills and be flexible to changing workplace needs.

Complementing this discussion, LinkedIn expert Jeremy Schifeling provided practical and easy-to-implement strategies for showcasing your skills in your LinkedIn profile, connecting with others in your desired field and making your profile easily discoverable by potential employers.

“The session's panelists were very chosen for their diversity of experience and number of years in the workforce, from 10-30+ years. The panel was robust in addressing a number of very real concerns shared by alumni audience members. Thank you, panelists for being so gracious in sharing your career paths and work experiences today.”

“Timely topics, informative, resourceful, encouraging, welcoming, inspiring!”

Stephen Tang ’82, in a Q&A with Allen Plummer M.B.A. ’06, shared advice from his experience leading in today’s hybrid workplace. His guiding principle is “lead whole people whole heartedly” — understanding that employees aren’t just minds and bodies but also spirits to be nourished, each with their own preferred ways of integrating or separating their work and personal life. He discussed the myth that trust can only be built in person, and he shared the question he always asks job candidates: “Tell me about yourself as a person, a colleague and a leader.” Know thyself, and then be able to express yourself to others.

Throughout the week, alumni and friends gathered for in-person networking events at local restaurants and places of work in 11 cities around the country — from an entertainment industry happy hour in Los Angeles to a tour of the UN Headquarters in New York City to breakfasts in Atlanta and Boston. Event hosts included Douglas Bunch ’02, J.D. ’06, Lindsay Ellis ’06, M.Ed. ’08, Brian Focarino ’11, J.D. ’15, Aaron Frank ’93, Ashley Glacel ’02, Glenn Gundersen ’76, Phil Hatfield ’94, P ’27, John Horn ’90, Kevin Leslie ’08, Craig Poms ’83, Franklin Rho ’96, Robert Rose, Greg Wallig ’94 and Mike Tierney ’87, M.A. ’88, P ’15 — thank you to everyone who participated.

The fifth annual W&M Professional Development Week was brought to you by the Office of Career Development & Professional Engagement in collaboration with the alumni engagement team. Sessions were designed to help participants develop the career skills recommended by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. For more career resources, including information for including job postings, information for employers and resources for alumni, visit
Editor's note: A version of this article also appeared in the spring 2023 issue of the W&M Alumni Magazine.