After nearly 11 years at John Brown University, Chris Confer left his position as director of career development in December and accepted a job as the new dean of students for Anderson University in Anderson, Ind.
As the head of career development, Confer met one on one with more than 2,000 students, but never tired of the constant involvement with the student body.
“By far, my favorite part was helping students discover and understand what God was calling them to do,” he said in a phone interview from Anderson.
In the nearly six years as the director of career development, Confer developed the office, doing whatever he could to give students better opportunities, said Sarah Erdman, the assistant director of career development. “He really revamped the program and has made career development really what it is,” Erdman said. “He’s left a good legacy.”
Some of the bigger additions to the office include co-curricular transcripts, corporate partnerships for internships and connections, online self-assessments and a career development certificate, she said.
“Compared to other colleges our size, Chris has done a phenomenal job with the program,” Erdman said. “We have had other universities contact us, saying ‘Hey, how did you do that?’ Chris really led that initiative and has done a great job.”
Junior career development assistant Lexi Anglin said Confer was more than just a supervisor.
“He always does one on one meetings with his career development assistants,” she said. “So not only is he our boss, but he built a friendship with us, which made us want to work harder since we had such a great boss.”
Anglin regularly saw Confer do more than was required of him, opting to get involved with students directly in the classroom.
“He went as far as teaching a gateway class, which wasn’t required of him,” she said. “But that was something he felt like
he wanted to do, to meet new students and tell them about career development. For him, one way to get our name out there was to teach a gateway class.”
While Confer’s move wasn’t planned far in advance, it wasn’t surprising to him or his co-workers. He likens his time at JBU to a boxer training for a big match in ways like jumping rope or lifting weights.
“You train for years before you get to that ultimate match,” Confer said. “You’re about to step in the ring and fight hard in a good way. Unless you’ve done the training, you’re not going to be ready for the fight.”
Over the last couple years, he said that God has caused him to wonder what was next in store for him. He sees now that it was finally the right time.
“I’ve been really searching in my vocational life, trying to figure out where he’s going to call me,” Confer said. “I’ve questioned God, saying I’m ready to jump in the ring, but God still had several lessons to teach me at JBU. I’m relying on so many experiences at JBU to pull into my perspective here [at Anderson].”
Confer continues to work in an advisory role with the career development office, and other employees are now working more hours tofill some of the gaps left, according to Tim Dinger, the director of JBU’s student counseling center. The search process to replace Confer is also underway, with one candidate already visiting campus.
“We’re in a position, I think, to manage the spring well on the key initiatives of career development,” Dinger said.
“But if it takes until August to fill the position, that’s OK. There is a sense of urgency because we want leadership in
that position, but we’ve taken measures to make sure things are in good working order.”