As a three-time graduate of the Michigan State University (MSU) College of Education, alumni Greg Steele is a lifelong learner with a deep-running connection to the university. Earning a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education in 2002, Steele would go on to work with students in many capacities. During his professional journey, he returned to MSU, earning a master’s degree in Student Affairs Administration and a doctorate in Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education in 2005 and 2019, respectively.
Steele was initially uncertain about choosing an undergraduate degree path, stating, “I chose a major because I felt like I had to have one going in.” After discussing with professors and personal reflection, he stayed with elementary education over paths in communications and social work. Passionate about learning and continued growth, Steele reflects positively on his decision to pursue educational study but wishes he had not put so much pressure on himself at the beginning of his first year.
At MSU, he found ways to support his fellow students while working as a resident assistant (RA). Steele fondly remembers his floor, and he still values many of the lessons students taught him. Working with his peers affirmed his draw towards education and student support. Upon his graduation, Steele began his teaching career; however, he would soon discover that while he enjoyed teaching, he did not have the same passion for it at the elementary level as he did as an RA.
Thus, Steele pivoted, spending the next decade in student affairs, working in residence departments for the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and Binghamton University. His different experiences as a teacher, director and learner lead him to his current position as an e-Learning Specialist for Wayne State University’s Office for Teaching and Learning.
Due to his vast experience in student support services, Steele has much advice to offer students looking for their first full-time job offer. He encourages casting a very broad net and avoiding using only one source to find positions. These resources could be job boards, an individual’s network and/or using MSU’s or another college’s career services office. In the end, Steele emphasizes, “you only need one person to say yes,” to begin your career journey.
Steele offers helpful advice for all Spartans, stating, “Everything is a product of the relationships you make with other people.” Throughout his time at MSU and beyond, Steele has cultivated a variety of mentoring relationships and a vast personal network. To maintain these connections, he suggests taking the time to reach out to others on a personal level, such as asking about their professional projects and following up on what they have been working on. Further, he said, one should look beyond the transactional benefits – like recommendation letters – of these relationships and focus on the value others can add to an individual’s professional and personal growth.
For Spartans on the cusp of graduation and career planning, Steele recommends focusing on the end goal of one’s career and working backward. Though he found continued education to be necessary for his journey, he urges students who are uncertain about graduate school to reflect on their goals. Students should not get caught up in the “what “of their career journey, but the “why.” Focusing on why you may wish to pursue an advanced degree or continue to the workforce can help bolster your passions and reveal more about future goals.