Inside the mind of an anxious student, thoughts can race faster than an Olympic athlete. What major should I choose? Can I turn my passion into a career? How do I get an internship? Who would even hire me after I graduate?

The thoughts keep running in circles, seeking a finish line hidden behind heavy fog.

For students in the Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, Meghan Jester can help clear the path — with empathy.

Jester graduated magna cum laude from the college in 2013.

“I had an incredible experience as an undergraduate, learning from some of the best people both inside and out of the classroom,” said Jester, who has served as assistant director of student recruitment and career development for the college since 2017. “Many of those great people are still mentoring our students today. Now, I’m thankful for the opportunity to work alongside them in support of our students.”

Jester has now stepped into a new role, as the college’s assistant dean for student recruitment and career development.

Her recruitment responsibilities now include managing the recruiting process for first-year and transfer students, developing multimedia outreach and recruitment content, coordinating with college units to promote programs, and supporting university programming in promotion of more than 40 majors in the college.

Jester’s career development duties will include building employer connections, providing career advising such as résumé reviews and job and internship search assistance, and supervising the college’s Take the Lead program, a mentoring initiative with alumni and other professionals in a range of fields.

Jester will also collect and share alumni outcome and employer data with current and prospective students as they imagine how their Virginia Tech experience can support them in their post-education journey.

“Working at Virginia Tech feels like a dream,” said Jester. “I’m honored and thrilled to take on new responsibilities and continue doing what I love: helping students grow. This position allows me to work with our students from the time they are high schoolers to alumni pursuing their goals and careers.”

In her own career at Virginia Tech, Jester has experienced a range of rewarding moments. In addition to meeting with prospective students and their families, Jester has coordinated the College Ambassador Program by leading recruitment, selection, and training for a team of about 50 students.

 The college ambassadors provide valuable services to the college while participating in the structured professional development program that Jester plans. Past opportunities have included collaborations with Career and Professional Development, alumni panels, and mock job interviews.

“I love getting to know these student leaders as we work with them in various capacities across the college. For many, the ambassador program is a highlight of their collegiate experience. I enjoy seeing our ambassador alumni continue to support our students by engaging in alumni panels and sharing their career successes.”

Jester has also partnered with Monica Kimbrell, the college’s new associate dean for undergraduate academic affairs, to develop career-focused programs for students.

Kimbrell, who previously served as assistant dean for recruitment and experiential learning, began her new position with the college on July 1. In that role, Kimbrell now oversees curriculum management and development, career development, enrollment management, advising, and other matters relevant to undergraduate studies.

Jester and Kimbrell created a stop-in program that evolved into Walk-in Wednesdays, a chance to talk about internships and résumés, study abroad, and undergraduate research “Through these popular drop-in opportunities,” Jester said, “we’ve learned about a variety of student goals and helped students connect with resources across campus to achieve those goals.”

For the Take the Lead program, Jester collaborates with Kimbrell, the college’s Advancement team, and Career and Professional Development. Students learn how to build their networks on campus and beyond by engaging with college leaders, alumni, employers, and fellow students.

Jester also launched a weekly Career Corner email to streamline the internship and other professional development opportunities.

“Monica and Meghan have a remarkably effective and collegial working partnership and the college is quite fortunate to have them each assuming new roles,” said Laura Belmonte, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “Meghan’s tremendous dedication to our students, our alumni, and the college is palpable. I look forward to seeing her build on the countless successes she has already had.”

Jester earned a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in political science at Virginia Tech before earning a master’s degree in educational leadership at Lynchburg College.

Written by Andrew Adkins