Name: Emily Carlson
Position: Director of Undergraduate Leadership Development
Interviewed By: Rachel Arner
What did you study in college?
My bachelor’s degree is in elementary education, and my master’s is in educational psychology.
As of this semester, you are the new director of the Undergraduate Leadership Department. What does this position mean for our readers?This position casts the vision for the undergraduate leadership development on campus—both in the classroom and in the co-curricular realm. That means directing the day-to-day aspects of the academic program (we offer a certificate and minor, as well as a la carte electives), providing leadership development outside of the classroom via short courses, team training and any other ways we can think of, and offering mentoring and coaching to any student who wants to grow in their leadership. I am the lead instructor for the majority of the courses, so part of each day is spent in the classroom with students. I also spend a lot of time coaching and advising students. I’m also the sponsor of the ULead Society, which is a new student organization on campus that is committed to extending the leadership program experience for both our students and the rest of campus.
That’s awesome! What do you like most about taking this new role?
I’m a teacher at heart, so I love being back in the classroom full time. One of the things I loved most about my previous role was getting to mentor students, and now I get to do much more of that!
Do you plan to change “leadership” at Andrews University? If so, how?
I’m really wanting to tackle the perception of the term “leadership” on campus and to make sure students realize that what we offer is not just for AUSA officers or that person in your study group that loves to take charge. I believe that leadership is about relationships. Anyone who wants to make things better—whether that be themselves, teams they are on or organizations that they will work for—should be in our program. This program will impact your relationships, your self-awareness and your capacity to impact your workplace when you leave here. So that’s a big goal. In the more immediate, I am planning on leaning into my strengths that are anchored pretty heavily around organization and execution, and really evaluate how we can be more efficient, communicate more effectively and improve the student experience.
What are you most excited about with this position?
First and foremost, I’m excited about getting to work full time with our leadership students. I taught in the program as an adjunct for the last year and a half on top of my responsibilities in Student Activities, and I’m loving the chance to be “all in” with the incredible students in our program. Also, I’m looking forward to being a part of the team that is going to tackle the topic of life calling at Andrews. I think it could make all the difference for the Andrews student experience, and we have to figure out how to do it well.
Do you have any advice to students related to receiving their dream job after college?
Honestly, the further I progress in my own career and the more I learn about life calling, the less I am convinced by the concept of a “dream job.” I think culture has sold us this idea that there will be one single job that you will do for your entire life in which you will wake up every day bounding out of bed, bursting with excitement and passion for every moment of the work day. I would argue even the people that have what they term a “dream job” don’t love every waking second. I think your career can consist of several jobs or assignments through the years that may look completely different, or be in the same field. A job is what we do. A calling is why we do it. And sometimes we get those things confused with our identity, which causes a lot of dissatisfaction in the workplace and stress for students who don’t have a major figured out, or are not enjoying the one they have declared. I think centralizing your identity around the job you do is dangerous, and I hope students focus on finding a job that includes meaningful work, that 80 percent of the time they truly enjoy, and that allows them to prioritize other things in their lives that matter. But you may have been asking more about advice for getting your resume to the company you really want to work for and acing the interview. And for that, I will say from my biased perspective, that taking part in ULead on some level has proven to help.
What do you love most about working at Andrews University?
There are some really great people here. Our students give me energy and are awe-inspiring. I genuinely love spending time talking with students. Also, I work with people that are really good at their jobs and I truly enjoy being around. They make me better, and they really care about their work.
What is your favorite food and why?
Blueberries. Especially now that I live in Michigan and can pick them in the summer and freeze them to enjoy all year. Michigan blueberries are the best. People from Jersey, we can fight about this if you want, but it will be hard to convince me otherwise.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go, and why?The Isle of Man, because my sister moved there recently and I haven’t been to visit her yet!