This week’s posts are from an interview I did with Rick Browne, the Director of Xavier University’s Career Center. The interview will be posted in three parts: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Rick Browne Interview: Part One

“I was the kid in college that the career center dreads to see,” says Rick Browne, the Director of Xavier University’s Career Center, “a kid that had very little direction and very little depth, driven, in large part, by necessity and doing what he thought was expected of him. I chose to major in psychology, but I didn’t choose it carefully. I went through my classes; I worked at being a student. I wasn’t thinking where school was going to get me next, which is probably why I went to graduate school. I chose mental health because I wanted to help people, but it didn’t have a lot more depth than that. In many ways, I just got lucky.”

Browne is a natural. While interviewing him, I had to keep reminding myself that he was not my therapist and the interview was about his thoughts on finding the right career fit, yet I was overwhelmed by the desire to disclose. So, yes, Browne got lucky. With “very little
direction” he found his niche.

Browne didn’t come at career counseling in a traditional way – not from a human resources or higher education administration background.  He was trained as a psychologist. Graduate school forced him to think about what he wanted. “Being around people who wanted to explore their lives more deeply was good for me. What I got out of graduate school was a sense of what I was about.” Browne realized he was “better at figuring out what was right with people versus what was wrong with them,” but he was unsure how that would manifest in a career.

He stumbled into career counseling by accident. At Indiana University, where he received his doctorate, Browne taught three years of “Communication in the Classroom”, a course designed to help teachers communicate better. He loved teaching, but in his department, a doctoral student could only teach for three years within the department to ensure that all doctoral students could have the opportunity to hold a teaching assistantship.  He discovered, however, that Indiana’s Career Development Center had assistantships that involved teaching, which allowed him to get around the rule.  “To my surprise, I just really fit in this environment,” he says. “Career counseling was about finding the good; I was interested in asking, ‘how do you connect people with what’s true about themselves?’ Parker Palmer says ‘vocation is about figuring out what you can’t not do.’ That’s one of my favorite quotes. Put me in any situation and I will figure out how to help people get in touch with their truth. That’s what I can’t not do.”

Click here for Part Two.