Don Kjelleren Leaves CCI

By Caroline Jaschke

On Feb. 5, Don Kjelleren resigned as Director of Professional and Career Development for the Center for Careers and Internships (CCI). He ended his 17  years at the College to become the Director of the Williams College Career Center.

Kjelleren will be replaced by Ursula Olender, Associate Dean of Students and Director of the Career Center at Amherst College, who will start on March 21. She has further experience as the Director of Career Services at Colgate University and the Associate Director of Career Services at Dartmouth College. In the interim, students looking for advising in finance, consulting and business can schedule appointments with Susan Walker, associate director at the CCI.

While at Middlebury, Kjelleren specialized in guiding students interested in finance, consulting and business. Sarah Sicular ’16, a peer career advisor in the CCI, said, “So many students come in for finance and he had a huge personal network and always had all of the interests of his students at heart. I think a lot of students are really missing out that they don’t get to have Don as their advisor. He helped build up the Middlebury pipeline to careers in finance.”

During his career at the College, Kjelleren built up a large web of connections by networking with alumni, parents and companies visiting campus. Peggy Burns, Director of the CCI, reassures students that Ursula will be coming with that exact same network from her previous work, particularly at Colgate and Amherst. “We could not have asked for a more seamless transition,” she said.

Besides spending time advising students, Kjelleren trains as a triathlete with world ranking. He also has enjoyed biking to work on warm summer days and swimming in the freezing cold of Lake Champlain.

About her colleague Burns said, “It was fun having someone in the office with this incredible athletic prowess and experience with extreme sports. He has a good sense of humor and he cared very much about the staff and the students.”

Although Kjelleren says he will miss those bike rides, his colleagues and the students, he very much looks forward to in his new job. He is excited for the challenge of a tremendous growth opportunity. He said, “The culture and feel of the Williams Career Center is very different than Middlebury’s, in part because the Center is housed in College Advancement and so there are about 90 professional staff running around at high speed doing great things.”

While Kjelleren’s colleagues are certainly sad to lose him to Williams, they are excited about the great opportunity ahead of him. Furthermore, he leaves an excellent finance and consulting program behind him, which according to Burns is a strong foundation that the CCI expects to build upon in the future.

Burns believes this foundation will only benefit from the new perspective Olender brings.

“Ursula is coming from a campus that has a strong commitment to diversity and it is something she is particularly passionate about,” Burns said. “Her feet are firmly planted in the idea that these four years are a developmental process and she really wants to meet students where they are. She’s very committed to making the career exploration process a little less scary for students.”

Kjelleren leaves some parting words of advice, “Students, shift your focus from ‘What do you want to do?’ to ‘Who do you want to be?’ Be confident, dream big and don’t settle for less.”