Shaughnessy grew up in the Adirondacks region of New York State and graduated with only 15 classmates. She earned her undergraduate degree in communications and a minor in sociology from SUNY New Paltz. “When I graduated, I had a short-term plan for the summer, but not a true focus after that. I knew I liked learning about and working with people, so I felt confident that something would work out,” recalls Shaughnessy.
In 2006, things did begin to fall in place. Shaughnessy started working at a staffing agency and found a love for human resources. “Staffing was really fun. I liked the challenge of pairing workers with the employers that needed them- it was sort of like a puzzle.”
After a few years in that role, Shaughnessy made the move to Central New York and began working for Bryant & Stratton College. She filled a variety of positions, such as an admissions counselor and career service representative. “I gained a true passion for higher education and helping students make career decisions. It was great combining HR with higher education,” Shaughnessy says.
She spent over 10 years working at Bryant & Stratton College. Shaughnessy admits, “I wasn’t seeking work when I learned about my current job at the Whitman School of Management. I didn’t feel like I had to get out of a situation because I was truly happy with what I was doing and where I was. However, I knew I needed to look at how to continue to grow professionally. It was definitely scary to take the leap, but at the end of the day, the job change was a great move.”
Shaughnessy attributes her success to friends and mentors she has made throughout her life. “They have always been such a good sounding board to ask tough questions, like how to improve myself,” she says. Networking also played a big role in Shaughnessy’s career advancement. “Always have conversations along your path. You never know when it will come back to help you. It might not be immediate, but you never know what family and friends may have opportunities for you later on,” says Shaughnessy.
If you ask her what accomplishment she is proud of, she will eagerly share the outcomes of the students she advises. “It’s so great seeing students that I have been working with succeed and land the opportunity they were striving for. I feel great when they make sure to reach out and share their good news. I feel like I’m making a small difference in somebody’s life,” she says.
Shaughnessy enjoys spending her time in nature. “Since I’m from the Adirondacks, I love being outside. I enjoy hiking and skiing, but I have a 2-year-old now. Having a 2-year-old son is like a hobby in itself,” she jokes.
Before having her son, Shaughnessy conquered seven of the 46 high peak mountains in the Adirondacks. “It’s one of my goals to take my son hiking in the future and we can continue to work on accomplishing the 46er’s together,” she says.
Her life isn’t what she had imagined as an undergraduate. “There isn’t a degree in career advising; my undergraduate degree is in communications and sociology. My master’s degree is in leadership and management,” she says. However, Shaughnessy knows that being open to opportunities and connecting with people along the way has helped her tremendously and has helped shape the path she is on.
She reminds students that the Whitman Career Center is always open, so they can get help, too. “You don’t have to know what you need help with. I love having exploratory conversations and seeing students realize all of the opportunities they have in front of them,” she says.
Shaughnessy says, “Students need to know that they are in control of their own future. A path is just that, it isn’t always straight. Every experience adds to the path and gives students options, they just need to be open to the unknown.”
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