Karen Garner Stewart, a 1989 graduate with a degree in accounting, mastered a pandemic-era career reinvention. It began when she registered for career coaching and established her first LinkedIn profile showcasing accomplishments as a senior financial executive at Columbia University.

After a whirlwind of interviews in which she rose to top candidacy for a position at a different Ivy League institution, her job search took a back seat to the pressures of a transformative year. In the fall of 2020, Stewart’s optimized profile attracted the attention of a recruiter from The Museum of Modern Art in New York. Following a series of high-intensity interviews, she accepted the position of controller. Her pivot highlights the versatility of her skill set and the value of dedication and digital engagement.

Stewart credits a partnership with Jennifer Nicholas, assistant director of alumni career services and coach.

“Her innovative ideas and solutions let me know early on that she was paying attention and listening to what I was saying and, at times, what I was not saying,” Stewart says.

Graduates of Penn State Smeal degree programs are granted five one-hour, one-to-one personalized coaching sessions with a professional career coach. Program components include job search and advancement strategies, resume and executive bio reviews, mock interview preparation, and networking tools.

Program information and registration can be found on the Smeal Alumni Career Services website: www.smeal.psu.edu/alumni/alumni-career-services