By Tracy Lum
The words “dream” and “imagine” decorate the walls of Missy Gutkowski’s office, a room that beams and radiates with as much positive energy as Gutkowski herself. A career consultant, the manager of the externship program and the assistant director of Alumni Relations and Career Services, she helps students pursue their dreams–whatever they are.
For Gutkowski, who began working at the University in September 2006, a career in career services was a natural fit. Having graduated from Susquehanna University with a degree in sociology, she then pursued a master’s degree in social work at Marywood University. Throughout her time at Susquehanna, she worked in the career office and even spent a summer interning at our University’s Career Development Center (CDC).
“I loved the aspect that everyone has a career, and everyone has a job,” Gutkowski said. “It was this topic I could talk about with anyone, and I knew that [Bucknell] was where I wanted to be eventually.” She got there sooner than expected.
Gutkowski was initially hired as the program director of externships, a position she still holds. The externship program allows sophomore students to job shadow a sponsoring employer for two days over winter break. As the program coordinator, she expanded the burgeoning idea into the thriving program it is today.
“She’s really been the person to tweak the program and see what’s working,” said Pamela Keiser, Executive Director of Career Services.
At first, the pilot program was only offered for the College of Engineering and a few arts and science majors. Each year, Gutkowski incorporates new concepts into the program. For example, she requires students to get their résumé critiqued before they can apply to the program. She also provides tips on how to behave and dress professionally during the externship experience. “This has really paid off over the past few years in a very positive way,” Keiser said.
Gutkowski also serves as a career counselor and oversees the student workers at the CDC. In both roles, she goes above and beyond, developing genuine connections with students as she helps them achieve their goals.
“One of the things I admire most is her total commitment to educating students and the excitement and motivation she gets out of working with students,” said Sarah Bell, Associate Director of Alumni Relations and Career Services.
Many students who have worked with Gutkowski over her tenure agree. Rob Shanahan ’10 worked with Gutkowski for two and a half years, and he believes that she truly defined his experience at alumni relations and career services.
“She was and continues to be the best supervisor that I’ve ever had,” Shanahan said. “Her management style is such that I loved my job, even the more mundane parts of it because I could see how it all fit into the big picture.”
Overseeing the student worker program gives Gutkowski insight into how to reach out to students. She not only hires and trains students, but also develops a personal connection with them.
“That’s a blast. I love it because I get to keep the pulse of students,” she said. “I want to know what students are thinking.”
Career counseling is another way that Gutkowski reaches out to students. Up to 12-14 students work with her per week, a vigorous schedule that could drain even the most resilient of workers. Gutkowski, however, keeps her energy level up–-even without coffee.
“Throughout the week, the students energize me, and just loving what I do,” Gutkowski said. “It’s awesome to know that you can be a piece in teaching someone about what’s going to make them so great or what they’re choosing to do with their life.”
The students who consult with her also notice her dedication, energy and vivacity.
“Missy is the most helpful person when it comes to advice and help with networking [and] job/internship searching,” Malika Subramanian ’11 said. “She is always detailed in her response and never lets you down.”
John Stevenson ’11 also believes that Gutkowski was immensely helpful in his job search.
“She consistently strove to help me with my search, including working on my resume after she had left the CDC for the day,” he said. “She is dedicated to helping students find solutions to their issues, and the Bucknell community is blessed to have her.”
Across her roles at alumni relations and career services, Gutkowski strives for excellence and demonstrates her genuine passion for counseling.
“It’s just this idea that [University students] can do absolutely anything. This is truly just the beginning,” she said.
“Seriously,” Gutkowski said, “dream, imagine.”