By Dave Isbell

Today is my first day on the job without my “fellow adventurer,” John Hill. (Read last Friday’s post to find out about the new journey he has moved on to.) In many ways, John and I are polar opposites, but it is truly hard to imagine having a better working relationship with someone than what we had. I’ll miss having his high energy optimism and all of our conversations (while he multi-tasked) about our passion and vision for the work we were doing together. He was always the public “face and voice” of the work that we did and I suppose I was probably more like the “heart and ears” while I worked with individuals behind my closed office door. For the meantime, I guess I get to do a little bit more than I was before. The challenge is a bit daunting; yet, I am so excited about what the future holds for me and for the work that is going to come out of this office!

One thing I can say will remain the same moving forward is what John and I always agreed on, even if we approached it differently, and that is the commitment to change the world for the better and to improve the quality of life for every Spartan. The opportunity to do that one person at a time, in an organization that I love, with people who support the same vision is what keeps me loving what I do every day! MSUAA’s leader and “head servant,”  Scott Westerman and I are working out the details of where we go next and I want every Spartan to know that we are committed to carrying on the work of compassion and collaboration that John and I started nearly four years ago.

If you or anyone you know has a vision for collaborating with us to create meaningful business (and personal) relationships and to help Spartans to live self-actualized lives while they do productive, purposeful work, please don’t be shy about giving me a shout!

I honestly don’t know when the hiring process is going to start, or how long it will take, but I do want to hear ideas about what you think we should do moving forward and what kind of person you think should fill the pretty big sweatervest John left behind! (You have to know John to understand that sweatervest remark.)

In the meantime, I want to take a minute to recognize and introduce the new team of graduate students who will be working with me this year as we work through a transition and continue to serve you with the quality that you expect!

First, it seems appropriate here to recognize the great work that my Communications Assistant, Kim Toman, did for me this summer. She has done a stellar job on helping me to edit posts on this blog, and on writing new content for the Career Services pages on and those should be up for your viewing in early October. She has now graduated and went on to work for Christman Company as a marketing guru.

John Mattos worked with me last year doing resume critiques and social media. He is going to be working primarily on helping us to focus our social media efforts. I met him when he was still a MSU undergrad (Anthropology/Studies) and he impressed me right away! While still in school, he built MSU’s Facebook page up to around 40,000 people before he negotiated a deal to give it over to MSU. He is now working on his second year of a graduate degree in Advertising, and also is a student employee for MSU’s neighborhood initiative. He is also working for a social media firm near Detroit and as a contract employee doing social media for a Brazilian soccer team and a restaurant in Brazil (where he was born and raised.)

Tiffany Gaston graduated from MSU with a degree in Journalism and is a Masters in HRLR student. I was immediately impressed with her when I met her for the first time last Spring semester.  She came to me with about four years of resume critiquing experience and is very interested in career development issues and helping others to move toward self-actualization. In just two weeks, she has already proven to me that she is a quick learner, and a leader, and I’m so glad to have her on board! I’m also extremely thankful that she introduced me to our newest team members, Calvin and Lacretia.

Calvin McDaniel is a Masters in HRLR student. He graduated from MSU with a management degree before going on to work for Kroger’s for about two years in a leadership development program and then coming back to MSU to work on his graduate degree. Calvin is extremely interested in the issue of diversity in the workplace, and in developing people to fulfill their potential. In just one meeting he has already impressed me with his insight, contagious confidence and positive attitude. He will be starting with us on 10/22.

Lacretia Davis went to high school with Tiffany Gaston, graduated from MSU with a Bachelor’s in Social Work and is now starting a Master’s in Social Work. She already has over three years of experience working with children and families and I have to admit I’m a little bit jealous because she’s so young, already has great listening/helping skills, and will be graduating at the same time I do with an MSW! Aside from her interest in children and families, Lacretia is interested in helping adults with developing meaningful lives and careers. In just one meeting, I can already tell that Lacretia has a heart of gold, wisdom that surpasses her age, and a strong sense of self! She will be starting with us on 10/22.

It is going to be a great year, but please forgive me in advance for how bumpy the ride might be this semester as we work through some of the changes taking place. I am fully confident that each of the students I have hired will be able to adapt well, grow, help one another and contribute to our vision of “changing the world for the better and improving the life of every Spartan!”

Based on the conversations that Scott and I have already had, I think you (the Spartan Nation) are going to love where we take this office in the future! I want you to know that we cannot do this great work you have entrusted to us without you. Please keep tweeting, emailing, texting, posting, and talking with us about what you need, how we can make things better, and how you can get involved to help other Spartans. Every hand matters when you are trying to elevate a friend to greater heights or to  lift the weight of the world from his/her shoulders!



Dave Isbell is the Alumni Career Service Coordinator at Michigan State University. He has been a Career Coach since 1999. He is also currently pursuing a Master’s in Social Work/Family Studies at MSU. When he is not working or studying, he is enjoying domestic bliss with his wife and kids, or playing rock music on his bass guitar. You can find him on Twitter (@helpingspartans) and sometimes he writes about compassion, collaboration, and career for this blog, which he owns and begs other Spartans to write for.



  1. Tiffany Gaston 21 September, 2011 at 15:43 Reply

    This was a joy to read Dave! Thank you for the kind words, I’m sure that as a team, we will accomplish great things!

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