By Sydney Sfreddo
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business consistently ranks as one of the best in career services among MBA programs internationally. To provide you with an idea of the depth and variety of experiences that the career advisors at Darden’s Career Development Center (CDC) bring, we will be introducing a few of them to you highlighting their professional backgrounds, advice for incoming students and a few fun facts about them . Our first spotlight is Jim Collins, Associate Director of Career Education and Advising for the executive format students. Read more about Darden’s Career Development Center in the news here.
How long have you been a career advisor at Darden?
I have been a career advisor at Darden for two years now. However, I have been working in career advising for eight years.
What did you do prior to coming to Darden?
I have a very broad background in organizational, executive, management, and professional development. During the course of my career, I’ve worked with 3 consulting firms, and served as a senior executive with trade associations in the technology, manufacturing, distribution, and electric utility industries. Prior to Darden, I had worked with over 2,000 professionals ranging from new graduates to C-suite level executives at a global consulting firm, helping them with their career transitions and job searches.
What is your favorite part about serving as a career advisor?
What excites me is working with individuals in either one-on-one or a group settings to enable them to establish clarity and direction for their careers and career transitions. I also enjoy producing programs that allow students to explore their career paths and potential industries, and then help them develop the search strategies and networks that allow them to reinvent their careers.
What career advice would you give to an incoming executive format student looking to make a career change?
There really is no one piece of advice. Approximately 120 students enter the Executive MBA program here at Darden every year, and each has their own, very unique career quest. However, those considering a significant transformation in their career direction will be going through a multi-phased process that takes time. We want to begin working with these students early on at the CDC to help define their career goals and the plans they will need to reach them.
What are a couple of hobbies you like to do in your spare time outside of the office?
I like hiking, playing racquetball and gardening.
What is your favorite thing about living in Charlottesville?
What is there not to like about Charlottesville? I’ve lived in major cities all my life. Charlottesville has an affordable cost of living, no traffic congestion and the countryside is absolutely beautiful. It’s a very stimulating community with a strong arts presence, a lot of cultural and athletic events, a large volume of history and great restaurants. It’s also no more than a couple of hours from the beach or Washington, D.C.
What do you think makes Darden’s Career Development Center unique?
On the executive format career services side, we establish very personal relationships with each and every student, and work closely with them to develop customized programs that enable them to articulate and achieve whatever their career objectives are.