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Graduate School hires new director of graduate career coaching

Brandi Smith, IU Graduate School Bloomington’s new director of graduate career coaching, has been noticing patterns.

Across the arc of her experience as a career and life coach, which has included stints at Indiana University and Ivy Tech, Smith has consistently heard themes of uncertainty and anxiety from students approaching the job market. Many wonder how they can move into a career for which they have not been linearly trained, for which there is not one clear path.

“Career decision-making can feel uncertain; it’s complex,” Smith said. “That complexity can become clearer with research to gain familiarity with options, self-reflection on what’s important individually and preparation along the way so you’re ready when it’s time for the job search process.”

Brandi Smith sitting at a table next to a window and in front of a brick wall. Brandi Smith. Photo by Sarah J. SloverSmith’s objective, then, is to work with campus partners, such as the Walter Center for Career Achievement, to expand graduate career coaching capacity at IU Bloomington. Faculty and staff can then more meaningfully support graduate students in navigating their professional values and desires, their array of potential paths and the peculiarities of an often-stressful job market — both within and beyond the academy. Her goal is for students to feel empowered and excited about their futures.

“They devote a lot of time, energy and talent to their education and to the university. I believe that should be reciprocal.”

In mid-September, Smith entered the position, which is brand new to campus, with lots of ideas but with tempered energy and an eagerness to gather information. She wants to understand what support gaps students are finding, as well as what they want to take away from the career coaching experience. With that information, she can decide how to best employ university resources and networks to fill gaps and meet needs.

In the early months of this role, Smith is focusing on listening to students, staff and faculty who have similar goals for supporting graduate student career development, diverse pathway exploration and parallel planning. She is also available for one-to-one and group career coaching and consulting, as well as attendance, networking and presentation at various campus events with student, staff and faculty partners.

“Many of us at IU were familiar with Brandi’s expertise in career coaching, but since joining the team, she has rapidly made connections with units across campus and has already had an impact on expanding graduate student career coaching services,” said David Daleke, dean of the IU Graduate School Bloomington and vice provost for graduate education and health sciences. “As the Graduate School works to support all aspects of student development and realize the goals outlined in the IUB 2030 strategic plan, her commitment to careful listening and collaboratively forging a robust campus career coaching network will be invaluable.”

Smith will work closely with the Walter Center to develop graduate student career services for the College of Arts and Sciences, including serving more graduate students in one-to-one coaching, and career programming using shared resources, tools and strategies. She will also collaborate with the Graduate School senior leadership team, academic schools and other career services departments, councils and committees for planning and implementation.

“Building something new takes time and close attention,” Smith said. “We need each other’s partnership and feedback for that.”

No stranger to IU Bloomington, Smith attended the campus for her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and studio art, as well as her Master of Science in applied health science. In 2013, she began as an adjunct lecturer in the School of Public Health and went on to work in the Advance College Project and Career Development Center.

As senior assistant director of the Career Development Center in September 2019, Smith received the Indiana State Commission for Women Torchbearer Award for the launch and implementation of a workforce gender equity gap education program.

Toward the end of 2019, Smith accepted the position of assistant vice president for career coaching at Ivy Tech. There, she collaborated with career services and workforce development staff on 19 campuses statewide to launch Ivy Tech’s Career Link department.

Since 2017, Smith has operated her own life, career and leadership coaching and development LLC.

Emily Miles is a campus engagement generalist in the Office of the Provost.