Though Michigan State University alumna Kelly Holdcraft had a passion for communications, she was persuaded by a family member to major in political science. Graduating from the College of Social Science in December 1992, Holdcraft would embark on a career journey that allowed her to reconnect with her love of communications and become an active member of the MSU alumni network.
Following graduation, Holdcraft continued her education by completing paralegal studies at the Philadelphia Institute for Paralegal Training. She went on to work for law firms across the northeast and Washington D.C. Deciding to take a few years off to stay with her family, Holdcraft eventually re-entered the workforce at the beginning of the Great Recession. Being laid off from her paralegal work, she pivoted her career path, accepting a full-time position with Georgetown University. Holdcraft worked with both the Paralegal Studies program and as an adjunct faculty member teaching career skills and development.
Holdcraft recommends those interested in higher education positions, “Work for a college and take advantage of their education benefits.” While employed at Georgetown, she earned a master’s degree in public relations and strategic communications, which helped foster her interest in alumni engagement and leadership. She served as a board member for the MSU Alumni International Advisory Board, doing committee outreach work for alumni engagement and enrichment.
Her professional experiences combined to strengthen her dedication to learning, continuing education and making connections. She ultimately accepted an offer from the College of William and Mary, where she now serves as the senior director of Alumni Engagement. In her position, she interacts with the William and Mary alumni community, organizing events and facilitating outreach initiatives to keep them engaged with their alma mater.
Holdcraft believes the connections one makes during their undergraduate years become invaluable to their career journeys. Connecting with faculty members and advisors exposes students to research experiences, an expanded network of professionals and job opportunities, she explained. Holdcraft has found her own network essential to her career development, especially considering the women leaders she has worked with in the past. To her, these women pushed her to work harder and set higher standards for herself and her work.
When commenting on the value of her MSU education, Holdcraft credits her access to the expansive alumni network as one of the most important aspects of her education. The relationships she formed helped ease her transition when changing jobs and relocating.
“Make sure you are maximizing your Spartan experience,” she advises fellow Spartans. Looking back, Holdcraft wished she had taken advantage of the many student organizations and activities offered. She suggests students learn the value of life-long learning, which can help one adjust to new positions and problem-solve in the professional world.