After working at Penn for almost 40 years, Director of Career Services Patricia Rose will be officially retiring in August, and her colleagues and students alike reflect on her decades of service to the community and express appreciation in anticipation of her departure.
Vice Provost of University Life Valarie Swain Cade-McCoullum announced Rose's retirement to VPUL directors on March 13, writing that “Pat is a Penn pioneer in an iconic position."
"She has personally guided thousands of students and alumni through the exhilarating process of discovering their passions and embarking on their professional path," she continued.
Rose entered Penn as graduate student studying English, but quickly started working in advising and shortly after for Career Services. While her position as director has placed her in charge of more administrative work, Rose said that she always prioritizes the Penn student body and still finds time to advise them.
“She’s not shy about advocating for students' best interests,” Senior Associate Director of Career Services Barbara Hewitt said. “She’s always looking out for students — what will be most effective for them, how can we bring more employers to campus, how can we prepare them well.”
College senior Victoria Peng is an advisee of Rose’s and has found that unlike other “perfunctory relationships” that she has had with advisors on campus, Rose is not only a well-informed advisor, but is also supportive personally.
“She cares about my professional and academic success, but she also checks on me outside of my career aspirations,” Peng said. “It's very cool to have someone care about me as an entire person and not just as another statistic — I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to work with her.”
Throughout her time at Penn, Rose has helped spearhead many of Career Services’ major projects, including the Quaker Career Wardrobe — a clothing drive that collects new or gently used professional clothing for Penn students who otherwise could not afford them — and initiatives to fund and support first-generation, low-income students pursuing professional opportunities during the summer.
Senior Associate Director of Career Services Claire Klieger added that Rose was one of the first in her field to conduct “First Destination Surveys,” which document where students go and what they do within the first six months after graduation. These surveys are used by Career Services as reference when advising students about potential future opportunities.
“Across the industry, what she's known for is using data to tell stories,” Klieger said.
Aside from concrete initiatives, Rose said that one of the most important things that she has done with Career Services is create relationships with other departments within the University.
“We have forged relationships with people throughout campus,” Rose said. “And we can leverage what we do by the partnerships that we have formed. And I feel that that's my role — to be out there to say, ‘We're Career Services, we can work with you. Would you work with us? It'll help us.’”
In 2012, Rose won the Penn Human Resources’ Model Supervisor Award for her leadership, a quality for which she has become revered within the office. Senior Associate Director of Career Services Sharon Fleshman said that she learned so much from Rose just by “witnessing her leadership and trying to emulate that with what I do.”
Many have also described Rose as both “innovative” and “creative.”
“She allows for creativity in the office — she encourages it. She encourages innovation,” Associate Director of Career Services Anne Marie Gercke said.
Rose agrees that innovation is crucial for her position. In more recent years, she has helped to develop the office’s social media presence by establishing Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts, as well as a Pinterest page, for Career Services.
“Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher, said, 'You can't step in the same river twice.’ Things do not stay the same. You can't just keep going to the river. The river's going to be different and you need to adapt,” Rose said. “I like technology. I do like to innovate.”
Rose has also had an active voice on Penn’s campus, both within Career Services and the larger community.
She has been a regular contributor for Career Services' blog, “Penn and Beyond,” where she has published posts on topics ranging from a job hunter’s New Year's resolutions list to how the Eagles’ Superbowl victory can inform the career decision-making process.
She has also contributed to The Daily Pennsylvanian a handful of times. In January, she published a Letter to the Editor, responding to an article that she felt unfairly targeted Career Services’ work with Penn’s FGLI community.
Rose’s retirement will be effective Aug. 3 and while the University has posted a job listing on the Human Resources website, it has yet to announce candidates for the position.
Nevertheless, while her colleagues and students are sad to see her go, Hewitt said that “she has not backed down at all as far as leaving the office in a really good place to move forward.” Associate Director of Career Services Mylene Kerschner echoed Hewitt in saying that she admires the legacy that Rose is leaving behind.
“When we conduct interviews when we hire new advisors or even new administrators, people ask, ‘What are some of the things you like most about working in the office?’ Pat is at the top of the list. She fosters this environment where we are collaborative,” Kerschner said. “It has been a great place to work because of Pat.”