The Center for Career Development is pleased to announce its first Faculty Fellow – Dr. Natalia Smirnova. As the Career Center continues to move toward its vision of ‘creating a university-wide career readiness culture that prepares all students for post-graduation success’, they have been extending their reach to partnering with faculty and staff more intentionally over the past several years. In addition to Career Everywhere and the Career Champion program, staff at the Career Center determined it would be beneficial to hire a faculty fellow to continue to bridge the gap between the academic side of the house and the Center. According to Nancy Bilmes, Directer of the UConn Center for Career Development, “A Faculty Fellow has built relationships within their discipline, college, and campus, making them the ideal person to bridge the gap between ‘career readiness’ as a concept and career competencies being articulated in courses.”
We were excited to receive several applications including Dr. Smirnova’s. It was Dr. Smirnova’s work outside academia, her research and interest in career readiness, and her participation as an active Career Champion faculty advisory board member that lent to the decision to hire Dr. Smirnova. We are excited to have her on board in the faculty fellow role. Please see more about Dr. Smirnova below:
Dr. Smirnova is an alumna of the University of Connecticut, receiving her Ph.D. in Economics from UConn in 2004. Her career has spanned government, academia, and non-profit sectors. This applied economics experience provides the basis for her approach to teaching: to engage students with real-world applications and data-driven explorations, to focus on the relevance of economics to everyday decisions, and on building career competencies to enter a chosen profession upon graduation from UConn.
For her innovation in the classroom, Natalia received a Wal-Mart Teaching Excellence Award from the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) in 2007, and a Grillo Family Excellence in Teaching Award from the Economics Department at UConn in 2021.
Dr. Smirnova’s research interests mirror her unique career path. She has published on new pedagogical approaches in a classroom with students of diverse backgrounds and levels of preparation, on program evaluation, and on economic literacy. Her most recent research focuses on career preparation of her students. With her co-authors, she developed an instructional module where students learn about their major and career path by using publicly available large data set. This pilot program attracted national attention of the economics profession. Dr. Smirnova presented this research at several conferences during 2022-2023 academic year.
Dr. Smirnova’s work on career readiness is closely aligned with the mission of the Center for Career Development and its Career Champions program. As the inaugural Career Faculty Fellow, Dr. Smirnova will be developing materials related to integration of career competencies into syllabi, serving as an ambassador to academic departments and faculty, and creating a sustainable program of faculty fellowship.