by Kiera Przygoda
I had the chance to sit down with Danny Pape, associate director for employer development and campus recruiting within the Center for Career Development to talk all things leadership, UT, and his newly acquired role as the director of membership services for the Southern Association of College and Employers (SoACE) professional association.
As associate director of employer development, Danny builds relationships with employers that recruit students for internships and jobs after graduation. “I do a lot of relationship building and travel about once a month to different cities and have as many meetings as I can with employers to consider recruiting students at the University of Tennessee.” Within this role, Danny built a strategy to work alongside other colleagues to go out and personally build relationships with industries in all areas for our students to make sure the university has organizations to recruit students.
For Danny, working in employer relations is like being a topic expert. “You really have to know about programs and majors and what types of skills students are coming out with to make those bridges happen between the college and the employer or the program and the employer.” He chose to take an industry approach and broke up the different sectors of industry among his colleagues. “I wanted my team to be more specific and focused to become knowledge experts because there is no way to know it all.”
It should be noted that Danny’s journey to career services wasn’t always clear to him. After graduating from Missouri State University with a degree in finance, he interviewed and prepared for a financial career. However, he was heavily involved in sorority and fraternity life during his undergrad which led him down a slightly different career path than anticipated. “My Greek Life advisor, my senior year, asked if I had ever thought about working on a college campus. I responded with “No, I didn’t know that is how people got involved within this field.”
After interviewing for many assistantships, “I walked out of my Career Services assistantship interview knowing that that is what I wanted to do. The people, the type of work. I get to use my financial skill set still, in terms of budgeting and analytics, but the people side, the helping side of my career goals came out and so it was kind of a perfect fit.” Danny attended the University of Kansas where he received his master’s in higher education administration.
Once graduated with his masters, Danny fell in love with the city of Knoxville and after seven years is still loving every second of it. Starting as a business consultant within the Center for Career Development at the university, Danny helped business students on career development. He worked as a business consultant for five years before being promoted to associate director of employer development.
Danny’s next step in his professional career has included being voted as director of member services for SoACE, a regional professional association for career center and recruiter colleagues. “This region is the perfect size, typically 500 people come to the conference whereas some of the larger professional associations have more people attend. To me, It is an easier way to connect with people and share best practices and really get involved.”
Leadership has always been an important aspect in Danny’s career especially being an introvert and learning how to be a successful leader amongst his team. “Leaders don’t always have to be extraverted and I’ve learned to look at my introversion as a strength when I build relationships, collaborate with others, and form a brand for our university. Leadership is about learning from others and continually growing from the experiences you gain.”
Danny Pape has shown great leadership through his advances within the Center for Career Development, from developing a process focus for recruiting organizations to be knowledgeable in all aspects of university programs. He builds his leadership skills off of asking questions and challenging himself. When advising others in terms of leadership, he encourages others to “utilize professional associations to obtain those skills you are not receiving in your job and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself to move forward.”
“I believe in putting my best foot forward regardless of the responsibility or roles I find myself in and try to motivate others to do the same. I believe you can’t teach effort and it’s something we can all do to make ourselves and team better. We often as educators don’t always take the advice we give to our students and we need too!”
Danny’s passion toward representing the university reaches far beyond, going outside Tennessee state borders to partnering with employers for our students and creating a successful platform for student’s futures. The university is fortunate to have Danna Pape leading our university to bigger ideas and opportunities while growing the platform of what has been set for him.
Kiera Przygoda is a junior at the University of Tennessee majoring in communication studies. She is the undergraduate public relations intern for the Office of Communication and Marketing. She has a passion for writing and media and a love for Disney. Kiera is also a student assistant at SEC Network and VFL Films.