Strains of smooth jazz make their way out of Chris Holland’s office, in the new W. P. Carey School of Business Career Services suite. Positive quotes and peaceful images decorate his walls. An Abraham Lincoln quote graces his desktop computer background: “Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition."
“As a career coach, my job is to be a resource to students and help them bridge that gap from where they are to where they want to be,” says Chris. “It's a very personal thing to be able to help these students navigate the early years of their adult lives,” says Chris.
Originally from South Carolina, Chris traveled quite a bit growing up because of his family’s military ties.
“You're always the new kid. Every four years you are moving, and you have to be able to adapt. It really teaches you how to get out of your comfort zone,” Chris says. Those skills are invaluable now, he says.
Chris is a former basketball player, and when he graduated from ASU in 1999, he wanted to work in athletics. He began as a women's basketball coach at University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif.
“Once I got that job, I knew working with college students was it for me. I had a lot of missteps when I was a college student, so my goal is to make sure that others don’t make those same mistakes,” he says.
Chris has held many different positions supporting undergraduates, including admissions, residential life, academic support, and athletics.
“When I was approached about this position, I said ‘You're going to pay me to talk to students about their future?’ It was a no-brainer. And it has been truly humbling and rewarding because I love what I do,” he says.
“Students come in as freshmen, and some of the resumes I’ve seen have need a lot of help. And now, a few years later, they're in conversations with major companies. They get so excited. Their faces light up. ‘Yes, that was always in you,’ I tell them.”
“I’m proud of the impact I’m able to make in students’ lives every day,” says Chris.
What do you like about your job?
Anytime a student comes back and says I appreciate what you did for me, that is invaluable. As a career coach, often times people only come to you when they need something. You don't always hear how it worked out for them. It's a real confidence booster when you get a thank you. You definitely remember it.
What’s your favorite W. P. Carey School event?
Graduation, without a doubt. Liz (Schaefer) and the whole UPO team do such a wonderful job with convocation. I'm so fortunate to be able to see these students come in as freshmen and leave as graduates. I am always blown away by their excitement. To see them walk in as young kids and walk out as young adults and see the jubilation on their faces — I'm getting chills just thinking about it.
Have you ever received especially good advice?
Don't be afraid to get uncomfortable. If you're too comfortable, you're not growing. If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you. That’s why I welcome challenges.
Where is your “never fail” lunch spot on or near campus and what’s your favorite menu item?
El Pollo Supremo. It's a little hole-in-the-wall on University & Ash, right by Buffalo Exchange. All of the three items on the menu are great! Take cash; they don't take cards. It always satisfies.
What was your first job and what did it teach you?
In high school, I worked in a bowling alley. I was the guy who had to make sure the lanes were maintained and properly oiled, fix machines that were down, etc. Back in the day, it wasn't as automated as it is now. It taught me the value of hard work. I learned that working smarter is just as important as working harder.
What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
I worked at Super Bowl 30. I had the pleasure of working a private party for the Dallas Cowboys.
If you could be in any other career, what would it be?
I'm open to so many different avenues. As long as I'm able to affect change, I don't care what the job title is.
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Australia: I would love to see what it's like. It seems like a really cool and interesting place.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I like to smoke meat in my smoker. Ribs and brisket are what I do the most.
What movie can you watch over and over?
Salty or sweet? Sweet, but not too sweet.
Coffee or tea? Neither.
Soda or energy drink? Red Bull all day.
Cat or dog? Dogs
Truck or car? SUV
Board games or video games? Video games
Fiction or non-fiction? Both
Facebook or face-to-face? Face-to-face
Breakfast or lunch? All the above!
Morning person or night owl? Whatever the day calls for.