What am I doing with my life?

Laurie Grove, Director of career services at Thaddeus Stevens College, talks about what employers are looking for and how you can stand out!

Jennifer Botchie Deinlein//September 6, 2023

What am I doing with my life?

Laurie Grove, Director of career services at Thaddeus Stevens College, talks about what employers are looking for and how you can stand out!

Jennifer Botchie Deinlein//September 6, 2023

You created the career services department at Thaddeus Stevens. What goes into keeping it current and growing? 

I break it down into five key things. First is how we run the office: we approach it more like a sales team, and building and maintaining relationships with our most important customers and that’s students, faculty and employers. Ultimately  it leads to why we’re here, to connect really well-trained and work-ready students in those super high in-demand careers, and encouraging them to give back to the community, and they’re contributing to Pennsylvania’s economy. The second piece is staying connected with alumni; we not only build relationships with our students while they’re here, we continue those relationships after they graduate. Our office is responsible for our annual graduate employment survey, so we reach out to the graduates one year after graduation, again five years after graduation, and we get an astonishingly high response rate and I think part of that is because of the relationships that are built while they’re here. They’re able to tell us a year out, five years out, what works for them, what doesn’t work, what keeps them at a company, why they leave a company. Then it allows us to go back and share that information with our employer partners so they’re better equipped to not just recruit but also retain our students and grads. It allows us to connect our alumni with our current students so our students can actually picture themselves doing the work. We bring alumni back all the time to mentor, motivate and encourage our students.  

 The third thing is our involvement with external workforce initiatives. Our office is involved with different local and state manufacturing and building associations, we sit on their committees, we’re part of the conversations with trade unions and tech councils. I’ve been really involved with our local Society of Human Resource Managers, that allows us to collaborate with the HR teams of the industries we serve. Being members of the chamber and working directly with the workforce development board, we’re able to have a conversation about what’s going on in the economy, with our jobs, our outlook, being on top of trends, to have our finger on the pulse of what’s happening right now. Fourth is (that) every one of our program majors has a vibrant, dynamic occupational advisory committee made up of industry representatives and others who have a vested interest in that program and major. The career services department sits on every single one of those committees, so we are at the table with all of this industry. It allows us to hear firsthand what’s happening on the industry side of things, what their needs are, what their struggles are, what are some of the new technologies, what are some of the new compliance rules and regs, what are some funding opportunities that will help our programs. We need to know what their HR policies are. Then we work with the faculty and the industry to create a plan to best support and enhance the program and students while still striving to meet the hiring needs of employers.  

 Finally, (there’s) being part of our college advancement team. We are now able to leverage the relationships we’ve already established and collaborate with all the departments and take a more 360-degree approach to the way we recruit, the way we teach, prepare and ultimately launch our students into lifelong careers. We’re better prepared to engage with our external partners on a more personal level, and that in turn allows us to more intentionally focus on securing the resources needed to enhance student support programs.  


There’s always focus on what prospective employers are looking for, but you ask students – the prospective employees – what they’re looking for in a job. What are some of the things that stand out? 

 Contrary to popular belief, money isn’t always the first thing on their minds. No. 1 — and this is pretty consistent across the board — throughout the years is our grads want to enjoy what they’re doing and to feel valued. The overall top four are: to enjoy what I’m doing and feel valued, company culture — which really just means a feeling of inclusion — compensation and then comprehensive benefits. (Students) also want to know they have training provided, they don’t want to be thrown to the dogs. And they want to know what their career pathway is, they want to know on day one what do they need to do to get to the next step. 

The most interesting thing to me is that while the majority of the programs we teach lead to careers that have all kinds of opportunities for overtime, having overtime available is one of the least important things to them when looking for a career. Paid time off doesn’t mean a lot to them, that’s so much less important if they are enjoying what they’re doing and they’re at a company where they feel included. 


If you could switch careers and go through any of the programs at Thaddeus Stevens, which would it be?  

I’m a huge fan of HGTV, so it would be residential remodeling, hands down. I would love to have the skillset to rehab and renovate homes. I’m fascinated by it, I would love to be able to give spaces new life, and I am completely inept in that area. Just to be able to remodel a home, knock down walls, know what I’m doing, rewire, you name it — I would love to do that.  

Freelance writer Jennifer Botchie Deinlein 


About Laurie Grove 

Laurie Grove, 57, created the first career services department at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology almost two decades ago and has served as its director ever since. Before that, she spent eight years as a national sales training consultant for Marriott International. She is involved in a number of community programs, including the Lancaster Chamber Women in Business mentor program and the Lancaster Society of Human Resource Managers, where she also serves on the diversity, equity and inclusion committee. 

Grove earned a bachelor’s degree in communications, with a minor in English, from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. 

She lives in Lititz with her husband Ken and they have two daughters, two “pretty cool” sons-in-law and two grandsons.