June 24, 2013

Dr. Gerald Williams Named Director of Career Opportunities at VSU

VALDOSTA – Valdosta State University welcomed Dr. Gerald Williams as its director of Career Opportunities June 3.

Career Opportunities is a recently formed office that offers programs to assist VSU students in choosing their majors, identifying career objectives, obtaining practical work experience and seeking relevant employment upon graduation.

“I am very excited about the future of Career Opportunities,” said Russell Mast, vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students. “Dr. Williams is a tremendous addition to the Division of Student Affairs, and through his leadership our students will benefit from a more modern and innovative approach to career development”.

Williams will oversee programs and events provided through Career Opportunities, which merges the Office of Career Services and Office of Cooperative Education.

“The same services that have been offered in the past will still be offered, but more will be introduced,” said Williams. “There will be more twining, shadowing opportunities and experiential learning opportunties. We plan to build positive connections with students before they reach the 30 credit-hours necessary to participate in the co-op program and track them throughout their time at VSU to make sure they are fully prepared to enter the workforce when they leave.”

Williams expressed plans of expanding the office’s employer base and developing outreach strategies to connect with academic departments, focusing on what skills are needed to accompany students’ career plans. The office will also look at ways to build on an already strong career counseling component.

“Student input is also heavily valued,” said Williams. “We want to find out what is important to them and make sure we are actually soliciting employers from industries they are interested in. The overall goal is to make sure that we are in the vein of where the institution is and where the demand is going.”

The office wants to partner with the Office of Alumni Relations in an effort to pinpoint more graduate success stories and develop opportunities for graduates to mentor current students.

“We already know that the co-op program works,” said Williams. “The students who participate are hired quicker than those who do not. The challenge has been determining where the students go when they leave the university. We want to find them and tell their story as it relates to VSU. We want to show that this program works and provide the data to back that up.”

Williams joins VSU with more than 15 years of experience in higher education. He is a three-time graduate of VSU, with a Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies, a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Education in Higher Education Leadership. He also holds a Doctorate of Education in Higher Education Administration.

Upon completing his undergraduate studies, Williams worked at VSU as a program coordinator and then assistant director of Student Life from 1997 to 2005. After leaving VSU, he served as director of Student and Residence Life at Thomas University for two years, director of Student Success at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College for three years and then director of Student Success and Retention at Bainbridge State College for three years.

“As a student, I was heavily involved as a resident assistant, athlete, SGA president and fraternity member,” said Williams. “After working here, I always said that I wanted to eventually return.”

Williams’ immediate plans include working with his team to develop an “aggressive marketing and branding plan for the office.”

“This is a new era in services that we will be rendering so making our presence and relevance known is priority right now,” said Williams.

The Office of Career Opportunities is located on the second floor of Powell Hall West. The office can be reached at (229) 333-5942 or online at  https://www.valdosta.edu/student/student-services/career-services/forms/contact-us.php .