When a student comes into Director of Career Services Sharon Bannon’s office, she never knows what kind of adventure they’ll bring. Do they want to be a dolphin trainer? An international businesswoman? The director of an environmental non-profit?
No two students are alike. Some have no idea what they want to do or what their options are when they walk in — others have the next 12 years planned out. The obstacles and opportunities for each of them differ wildly, sending Bannon down the rabbit hole with every inquiry. But she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“What you are essentially doing is trying to get a look at the career from the inside out and help the student reverse engineer it. There’s the job I want, so what is the path to it?” Bannon said. “Career services is like playing dress up. Every time you explore a different career it’s like you’re pulling on a new outfit. And who doesn’t love to play dress up?”
Bannon’s own career has taken her across the U.S. and abroad, with time in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Germany. Her desire to travel and see the world pushed her toward foreign languages in her youth, and an undergraduate degree in German landed her in higher education, helping place exchange students from Germany at colleges across the country. The work was rewarding, but fast-paced, and city life didn’t speak to her outdoorsy soul.
So she packed her bags and moved to Maine, where Bannon subsequently worked at the University of Southern Maine for 21 years, and then 8 ½ years at Southern Maine Community College. She’s spent almost 30 years adventuring into real-world applications of her students’ dreams, connecting them with employers and graduate schools and helping with resumes, cover letters, interviews, and more. It was Unity’s environmental focus that initially drew her here, and the opportunity to dive into some truly fascinating careers.
“I’m always the kind of person who says, ‘Why not?’ I’m always looking for an opportunity. And there comes a point in your career where you know it’s going to take a while to find the perfect job, so you always have your radar going. Enter Unity,” Bannon said. “This job looked really interesting. Unity looked interesting. This college has been doing some amazing things.”
“I can’t wait to be a part of that. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people already and I hope that students will take advantage of my services. I’m really looking forward to helping this exciting place.”