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        College, OPCD

        New leaders on career and employer initiatives team working to enhance Harbert student career outcomes

        February 19, 2024 By Laura Schmitt

        All News


        Marianne McCarley, Michelle Keesee sitting at table

        Marianne McCarley (left) is the new director of professional development and Michelle Keesee (right) is the new director of employer engagement in the Harbert College of Business.

        The Harbert College of Business has two new directors who are strategically enhancing Harbert students’ career readiness competencies while attracting more companies that can hire its students.

        Marianne McCarley started in her new role as director of professional development in October, and Michelle Keesee joined Harbert on February 1 as director of employer engagement.

        McCarley leads the career curriculum and instructional team that teaches career readiness across Harbert College, beginning in the students’ first year.

        An important aspect of Harbert’s Office of Professional Career Development (OPCD) operations—and a unique feature among peer business schools—is the career readiness curriculum, said Mandy Devereux, who oversees Harbert College’s vast career and employer relations ecosystem.

        “There’s a special way we do things for Harbert students,” said Devereux. “We embed career education in their academic preparation through [one-credit-hour] courses they take each year, through interactions with our career coaches and program champions, and through ethical leadership training their senior year.”

        McCarley, who has been with OPCD for three years before assuming her current role, examines national data on core career competencies for business school students to make sure her team’s curriculum remains aligned with current employer needs and future on-trend opportunities.

        “Each semester, we surpass the national averages for those competencies from the students’ and employers’ perspectives,” McCarley said. “My team and I are committed to providing superior student experience that produces highly sought-after graduates and cultivates lifelong engagement.”

        As an instructor for the senior-level career readiness course on ethical leadership, McCarley shares some of her own experiences owning a marketing agency in New York City, where she represented and matched film directors and production companies with ad agencies that had specific projects in mind, including high-profile Super Bowl commercials.

        Although she enjoyed owning her own firm and working on high-profile projects with filmmakers of the Hunger Games, Black Swan and the renowned Coen Brothers, McCarley said nothing compares to her Harbert role. 

        “My biggest thrill is helping students find careers that they love, and seeing the impact our team is making in the classroom, through one-on-one coaching appointments and during employer- led events,” said McCarley. “There is an excitement in Harbert regarding our new career initiatives and employer partnerships, and I'm honored to be a part of it all!"

        Michelle Keesee, director of employer engagement, is strengthening relationships with current employers and building new relationships with companies that could recruit Harbert students. She is starting this process by talking with the program champions to see which companies their students want to have recruit at Auburn.

        “Students from other areas of the country may want to work at a company that doesn’t currently recruit on campus,” said Keesee, who is also working closely with the college’s graduate programs office and development team to identify additional prospective employers. “I’m building those relationships,” she said.

        Keesee has a solid network-building history, having worked the last 11 years with Auburn Athletics, where she managed operations and membership recruitment and retention for the Auburn Football Letterman Club, a non-profit alumni organization of former players, as well as for the A Club Network for all Auburn athletic alumni.

        She and her team also developed AuburnYOU, a comprehensive life skills program that guides student-athletes on their journey from recruitment to graduation and beyond.

        “We knew how limited athletes were in their time, so anything we asked them to go to had to really be worth their while,” Keesee said. “We had a four-year curriculum for the athletes, which included having Harbert [faculty] do an After the Offer program that covered contract negotiations and how to weigh offers whether they were pursuing a career after graduation or professional sport opportunity.”

        According to Keesee, she also helped connect athletes directly with potential employers, especially since these students often missed out on regular career fairs because of scheduling conflicts with their practice and game commitments.

        "I'm thankful to be a part of this team and look forward to serving Harbert College in this role,” said Keesee. “I’m also proud of how Harbert sets its students up for success. The caliber of students that industry connects with here is top-tier.”


        Learn more about hiring Harbert students for internships and full-time employment

        The Harbert College of Business, which is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Raymond and Kathryn Harbert's transformational naming gift, is a nationally ranked hub of undergraduate, graduate and continuing business education that is inspiring the next generation of business leaders. Our world-class faculty deliver unparalleled academic rigor in the classroom, while our research-driven scholarship advances thought leadership and best practice across business disciplines. The largest college on Auburn's campus, Harbert enrolls more than 6,900 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students.