Carolina People: Dr. Tierney Bates
Interim Executive Director of University Career Services(UCS) for six months
What is your role as Interim Executive Director of UCS, and how have your responsibilities changed since the switch to working remotely?
My vision is to help create lives of purpose and legacy using personalized and innovative career education to empower student success and transformation. Since we went remote, my work has increased due to the number of students who lost job offers or internships due to COVID-19.
From another perspective, University Career Services has increased in exposure due to recognition that we need to focus not only on graduation completion, but from completion to career. We must truly focus on career outcomes and attainment due to the nature of trends, labor market and outcomes.
If we want students to become great alumni and University supporters long term, we need to help them secure employment during their time here and upon graduation in the field that will help develop their skills and leadership. Now is the time our office must be elevated across campus!
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced when transitioning to remote work?
Our transition was smooth; we were able to adjust within days. We had already talked about offering virtual platforms for the fall term and using technology to an advantage. We do miss the student face-to-face interaction.
One specific example: In March, UCS launched the micro-internship program with Parker Dewey, which is a free platform that allows students to demonstrate skills and explore career paths across various fields, industries and disciplines. We were actually ahead of the curve when we added them to our list right when we shifted online.
We were able to set up our COVID job search page within 10 days. I credit the team in being innovative and prepared to adjust quickly.
Oh, but we are also Zoomed out … if that is considered a challenge!
How have you set up your workspace at home? Where are you working from and did you bring anything from your office to your home?
I have a home office, so I am one of the lucky ones. I was only on the job two months before this hit. My home office is messy since we had just moved during the pandemic, so I didn’t get chance to even move stuff into my on-campus office. What you will see in my office is football helmets: I collect mini helmets from the schools where I have worked. I still need a UNC helmet!
How are you continuing to support Carolina’s mission?
Every day I wake up to see what we as a department can do better. How do we become the “Steve Jobs of Career Innovation” for our students? How can we get to a ranking of the No. 1 University Career Services office? I want every student to walk across the graduation stage with a job offer in hand if they are not going to graduate school. According to our most recent data, we currently have 59% of students employed. I would like that number to be 90% or higher.
What remote programs and resources are available for Carolina students?
All of our career fairs will be virtual this fall. We are setting up ways for students to learn how to navigate virtual fairs and interview from the virtual space. We have a list of program and workshops that will be virtual, starting in August, to prepare students for career fairs, interviews, and best practices.
If students visit the UCS website there is so much information and ways to help them. Students should also go activate their Handshake account, especially first years and sophomores. We tell them not to wait until their last two years. There are more than 5,000 jobs and internships posted on Handshake. We advise students to get experience NOW!
We already participated in a join virtual career fair in April with other schools from the SCE and ACC. We had 184 employers and 170 UNC Students participate in that event. Our fall fairs are listed at: https://careers.unc.edu/students/career-and-graduateprofessional-school-information-fairs
What do you like most about your work?
The staff and students! I love leading people, and students make my job easy because they are my “why” and purpose.
Bates’ home office still has boxes that he never had time to move into his campus office before operations moved remote, guarded by his favorite co-worker.