The University of Arkansas at Little Rock has named Brittany Straw as the new director of Career Services.
“We are thrilled to welcome Brittany to UA Little Rock,” said Dr. Sarah Beth Estes, dean of the College of Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences, and Education, where Career Services is housed. “Brittany is a dynamic and visionary leader. Her experience and enthusiasm make her the ideal person to build on the investments the Donaghey Foundation has made in Career Services over the last couple of years.”
Straw is looking forward to making Career Services a useful and innovative center to help UA Little Rock students and graduates find great internships and careers. In her new position, Straw is responsible for managing Career Services, advising students and recent graduates on career readiness and job search processes, overseeing a professional development and career skills program for students, and running career fair and career exploration programs at UA Little Rock.
“UA Little Rock has been very welcoming,” she said. “What makes this a great place for me is the energy I’ve seen for Career Services. I want to help our students find rewarding careers. If students have great careers, they will have more opportunities as alumni to give back to future students. Students come here to better their career and for career development, so I think it’s important that we have new services and tools to help them be successful.”
Before joining UA Little Rock, Straw served as the assistant director of Career Services at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where she increased the Career Track Razorbacks faculty partners by 160 percent by enhancing and scaling the Career Track Razorbacks Professional Development program. She also was working on implementing a new diversity, equity, and inclusion career readiness programs for students.
A native of Batesville, Straw is a first-generation college student who learned the importance of hard work and higher education by participating in the Upward Bound program at Lyon College. Originally a ballet minor, she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Master of Science in Vocational-Technical Education from Arkansas State University.
Straw started her career as a career consultant at Arkansas State University, where she provided career counseling services to around 1,000 students at the university’s Career Management Center. She also worked as a career counselor with ASU’s Career Services.
After six years in career services, Straw joined the executive board of the Arkansas Association of Colleges and Employers. She has served in various roles including student recruitment and relations coordinator, past-president, president, and president-elect. Straw loves to give back to the field and hopes to become more involved on a regional level.
“I love higher education,” Straw said. “I started off in the First Year Studies Program and then I went to financial aid. A mentor recommended I try career counseling, and I fell in love with being able to help students reach their goals. I am a leader who helps people achieve their career goals and live their dreams.”
Straw is implementing several new initiatives at Career Services. She will hire a new career specialist this fall to help more students develop their career skills and develop a guide for professors to help students learn career competency skills in the classroom.
With funding from the Donaghey Foundation, Brittany is piloting a new program underwriting internships at non-profit, governmental, arts, and start-up entities that typically cannot afford to pay student interns. She is also incorporating work study positions and non-academic graduate assistants into Handshake, UA Little Rock’s student career portal. Both of these initiatives are designed to enhance equity in career exploration, one through experiential learning opportunities and the other in the student job search and application process.
Career Services has two upcoming events for students who are looking for career experience. During the week of Sept. 20-24, UA Little Rock is partnering with JCPenney for a Suit-Up event that will give students a 30 percent off coupon to help with the purchase of business clothes. UA Little Rock will host a Virtual Career Fair from 1-4 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 28.