Career Center Welcomes New Executive Director, Moves to CELA


Khadijah Halliday

The Career Development Center recently moved into the newly-renovated Center for Engaged Liberal Arts.

The Career Development Center recently welcomed Anthony Pernell-McGee as its new executive director. Pernell-McGee replaces former Executive Director Dana Hamdan, who stepped down from her position last spring. After a nearly year-long vacancy, Pernell-McGee plans to bring new energy to serve Oberlin students and bring the Career Center to its full potential.

Pernell-McGee comes from Williams College, where he worked as the associate director and director of inclusive career exploration.

Vice President and Dean of Students Karen Goff, who was involved in the hiring process, believes that Pernell-McGee will be a valuable asset. According to Goff, Pernell-McGee has already identified goals for his work at the Career Center.

“Since his arrival in March, Anthony has already embraced the challenges as opportunities to provide a robust and seamless experience from the first year to graduation for all students,” Goff wrote in an email to the Review. “He endeavors to streamline all experiential learning projects and programs on a single platform to simplify the process for students.”

Pernell-McGee said his top priority is hiring a full staff for the Career Center by the fall semester in order to launch new programs to serve students. 

“I think it’s important to have a full team of career professionals available to provide services to the students,” he said. “By the fall, we will have a full team and be presenting new ideas, programs, and services for the students.”

Pernell-McGee plans on developing a curriculum of workshops and programs for students to explore different career options and expanding the Career Communities program. He also plans on replacing Wisr, the alumni networking website, and Handshake, a site where students can apply to and be recruited for internships and jobs, due to their user-unfriendly interfaces.

“We will add all the alumni-sourced internships and jobs on [the new] platform because Handshake is too big,” he said. “There are over 10,000 jobs, and students have difficulty navigating that platform. So we will segment all alumni-sourced internships and jobs on the new platform, which will make it easier for students to navigate.”

Pernell-McGee is also excited to implement some of his ideas for Winter Term, which he views as an important opportunity for career development. He mentioned Winter Term courses on professional development as one idea.

“We will develop co-curricular Winter Term courses so that students can develop and hone those core competencies and skills that employers seek,” he said. “We will reach out to the alumni network to recruit alumni to teach those courses based on their industry expertise, and to enhance the classroom knowledge, each career community will design a career trek. Career treks allow students to visit industries and interact with industry experts to learn about their business and opportunities.” 

Pernell-McGee’s start at Oberlin coincides with the move of the Career Development Center from Stevenson Hall to offices in the Center for Engaged Liberal Arts about a month ago. CELA is located in Mudd Center and will house the offices of a variety of student centered programs. Pernell-McGee is excited to begin work in the new location because it was built with cross-discipline communication and experiential learning in mind. 

“This was an opportunity to come in on the ground level with CELA’s launching and use my experience to do some wonderful things for the students,” Pernell-McGee said. 

Director of Experiential Learning and Executive Director of the Bonner Center Tania Boster will also be moving to CELA this spring. She is looking forward to the chance for more inter-office collaboration between the Bonner Center for Service and Learning and the Career Center.

“The Bonner Center is delighted to be working with Anthony Pernell-McGee, and more closely with the [Career Center] in general, now that the experiential learning offices are coming together within CELA,” Boster wrote in an email to the Review. “We are particularly eager to work together to enhance connections and programs focused on preparing students to work in the nonprofit, NGO, and public sectors.”

Pernell-McGee expressed similar excitement to collaborate with the Division of Student Life.

“The Dean of Student Life’s leadership team here at Oberlin is excellent,” Pernell-McGee said. “Professionals from various backgrounds work cohesively as a collaborative team to implement the recommendations articulated in [the] One Oberlin [report]. … I believe that Dean Goff has the vision and the experience to reimagine Student Life. She is extremely bright and innovative, so I’m glad that I’m on her team.”