Executive Director
Career Center

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In the heart of Silicon Valley on a California State University campus recognized for rich diversity and transformational student opportunity, the Executive Director (ED) of SJSU’s Career Center leads the central career services department to ensure that every Spartan emerges with career self-knowledge, employability skills, professional connections, and career opportunities.  The ED aligns the department’s efforts with SJSU’s strategic plan, Transformation 2030, and the campus’ strategic enrollment management plans. 

Operating within a team of leaders reporting to the AVP of Health, Wellness, and Student Services in the Division of Student Affairs, this role partners to ensure that students are equipped to flourish academically, professionally, and personally.  


Core responsibilities include:
•    Assessment and innovation to respond to career trends and client needs,
•    Leadership and management of operations supported by a $2.5M budget,
•    Career education—co-curricular and integrated—of all SJSU’s 35,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 
•    External relations to generate engagement with SJSU’s 9,200 local and 32,000 global employer connections, 
•    Organization and people development for the staff of 17 experienced career services professionals


To achieve these goals and perform these responsibilities, the executive director continually builds client knowledge to ensure that the center’s services and programs generate inclusion, cultural relevance, and high value to its primary clients: students, alumni, and employers.  


Assessment, Analysis, and Innovation

  • Lead department assessment and reporting to evaluate and communicate the impact of department services and programs

  • Research economic, policy, and industry trends to identify the opportunity to innovate and adapt services and programs

  • Gather and analyze data on client needs, preferences, and goals to ensure the center’s services and programs remain valuable and culturally relevant

  • Identify and implement priority improvements that advance the department’s mission and maintain high standards of excellence


Career Education Leadership and Management

  • Support the associate director to develop the co-curricular and integrative career education curriculum and delivery plan

  • Maintain learning goals and assessment strategy based on current career- and personal-development theories

  • Lead strategy for integrative and co-curricular career education in collaboration with senior campus leadership

  • Lead continuous improvement efforts to grow the scale and impact of career education

  • Build constructive relationships with senior campus leadership in the effort to ensure that students in all academic programs can achieve career success

  • Serve on select committee assignments to build administrative knowledge and skill

  • Serve as career services thought leader, sharing insights and best practices with senior campus leadership and career services leaders outside SJSU


Operational Leadership and Management

  • Create annual operational plan, refining department goals, KPIs, and activities that align with campus strategy and create the basis of individual performance plans.

  • Collaborate with resource and operations lead to produce and adhere to a three-year budget plan

  • Collaborate with AVP and VP of Student Affair to secure internal and external funding

  • Manage multiple budget funding types, including general funds, student fees, revenue, and grants

  • Select, secure, and manage cost-effective partners and vendors to grow the scale and impact of services and programs

  • Provide digital systems leadership to scale services and ensure data security

  • Provide leadership of promotional activities to generate broad engagement with career center resources as well as awareness of the value of career center resources

  • Ensure department adherence to campus fiscal, safety, personnel, and other SJSU and CSU administrative policies

Organization and People Development

  • Continually lead by example to develop practices among leadership team to foster staff engagement, trust, collaboration, innovation, and growth.

  • Enhance progressive organization structure to provide staff development, create succession strategy, and build retention

  • Develop annual professional development goals and budget to ensure staff knowledge and skills remain relevant

Engage in national and regional professional associations; encourage staff to do the same



  • Skill in using qualitative and quantitative research methods to generate insights on client needs, team performance, and student career success

  • Ability to absorb, analyze, and develop action plans based on large amounts of information about environmental factors affecting career services

  • Ability to apply current career development theories and best practices to career education services

  • Knowledge of student-development theories

  • Knowledge of retention and graduation strategies connected to career development

  • Ability to apply multi-cultural counseling and education theories to generate inclusion in services and programs

  • Skill developing and implementing complex operational plans

  • Skill managing multiple budget funding types, including general funds, student fees, revenue, and grants

  • Ability to generate funding from a variety of sources

  • Skill developing and negotiating grants and MOUs

  • Ability to engage and generate mutual benefit with strategic partners inside and outside the university

  • Skill developing and implementing multi-channel and multi-audience promotional plans

  • Excellent communication skills in written, multi-media, and public speaking modes for audiences of all levels

  • Ability to establish rapport and credibility with senior leadership to articulate the value of career services and understand emergent needs

  • Ability to build strong working relationships and influence staff, peers, faculty, and external stakeholders.

  • Skill managing budgets within a complex fiscal environment

  • Ability to select and manage impactful vendor relationships

  • Knowledge of student data management best practices, particularly those related to FERPA

  • Ability to engage and motivate staff to implement operational plans in support of the center’s mission

  • Skill managing and developing staff performance within a union environment

  • Skill in large-scale project management

  • Knowledge of employment law, including EEOC and FLSA

  • Knowledge of ethical and professional best practices for career services


  • Education: A master’s degree in counseling, psychology, human resources, talent development, management, or related human-development field

  • Experience: At least five years’ experience serving as department head in a complex higher-education or related function with external relations responsibilities.



  • Education: A doctoral degree in counseling, psychology, human resources, talent development, management, or related human-development field

  • Experience: At least five years’ experience serving as department head of a complex, central career-services function on a large, diverse, public university campus offering master’s and doctoral degrees.


  • Commensurate with experience



As one of the most transformative universities in the nation, San José State is ready for big change. As part of Transformation 2030, SJSU's strategic plan, the campus community is dedicated to realizing the university's potential as a nationally prominent urban public university. San José State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study. With approximately 36,000 students and nearly 4,300 employees, SJSU is an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and California. 

In collaboration with nearby industries and communities, SJSU faculty and staff are dedicated to achieving the university's mission as a responsive institution of the state of California: To enrich the lives of its students, to transmit knowledge to its students along with the necessary skills for applying it in the service of our society, and to expand the base of knowledge through research and scholarship.



San Jose is Silicon Valley's largest city, the third-largest in California, and the tenth-largest in the United States The San Jose Metropolitan Area has the third-highest GDP per capita in the world (after Zurich, Switzerland and Oslo, Norway), according to the Brookings Institution, and, as of June 2021, has the highest percentage in the country of homes valued at $1 million or more.

Silicon Valley is home to many of the world's largest high-tech corporations, including the headquarters of more than 30 businesses in the Fortune 1000, and thousands of startup companies. Silicon Valley also accounts for one-third of all of the venture capital investment in the United States, which has helped it to become a leading hub and startup ecosystem for high-tech innovation. It was in Silicon Valley that the silicon-based integrated circuit, the microprocessor, and the microcomputer, among other technologies, were developed. 



Transformation 2030

Road Map to Our Future

This is a campus of change agents and a community that thrives in the face of challenges. Throughout our history, from a small institution focused on preparing teachers for the frontier to a dynamic comprehensive university in the heart of the global innovation economy, we have changed and evolved along with the needs of our students, our region and the world in which we live. San Jose State is experiencing a transformational shift in culture and momentum as a pre-eminent urban public university committed to academic excellence, diversity and inclusion. The campus culture is one of vibrancy and optimism for the future.

Institutional Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

  • SJSU’S world-class faculty, staff, and management are an integral part of a student’s journey through academia. Become part of a diverse, inclusive, welcoming and well-balanced community focused on educating students to do extraordinary things with their lives as learners, creators and champions.

  • Through its leadership and work, the ODEI encourages civic and communal responsibility for diversity, equity and inclusion amongst its students, faculty, staff and administrators. The ODEI seeks to build organizational capacity to support and grow meaningful and collaborative working relations to provide opportunities for all members of our campus community to further their education and development as lifelong learners within their arena of work or schooling.

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Catherine Voss Plaxton

Catherine Voss Plaxton, Ed.D., serves as Associate Vice President of Health, Wellness, and Student Services at San José State University.  Catherine's portfolio includes many of the functions that are key to creating equity and access in education: Accessible Education Center, Case Management, Career Center, Counseling & Psychological Services, Military & Veterans Student Services, Student Ombudsperson, Student Health Center, Wellness & Health Promotion, and the UndocuSpartan Resource Center.  In her previous role as SJSU's career center director, she oversaw an innovative team striving to engage every Spartan in career education and strategically expand employer engagement.

After starting in corporate settings, Catherine was compelled to shift her career toward widening student opportunities in public higher education.  Her experience in education includes teaching, academic and career counseling, curriculum development and assessment, digital student service transformation, and grant development.  From her early career, Catherine brings over fifteen years of experience optimizing large-scale organization performance through instructional design, talent development, organization transformation, and IT infrastructure enhancements. 

Catherine's academic background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Economics degree from the University of Michigan, a Master of Human Resources and Organizational Development degree from the University of San Francisco, a Master of Arts in Education/Counseling and Student Personnel degree and a Pupil Professional Services Credential from SJSU, and a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership from SJSU.


Click 'Apply Now' on the SJSU Online Employment Application page and attach the following documents:

  • Resume

  • Letter of Interest


All applicants must apply within the specified application period: October 26, 2021 through December 12, 2021. This position is open until filled; however, applications received after screening has begun will be considered at the discretion of the university.

This job description and prospectus has been designed to indicate the general nature, working conditions and level of work performed by employees within this job. It is not designed to contain or be interpreted as a comprehensive inventory of all duties, responsibilities, working conditions and qualifications required of employees assigned to this job.