Magazine Feature / People

Graham wants to be the Suze Orman of career counseling

Dawn Graham began her undergraduate education at Seton Hall University as a voice major. She says she quickly realized that her voice was better suited to “blending into a group,” so she moved into the choir and chose a new major: psychology.

Graham has since learned that “blending into a group” is exactly what she wants to help others avoid. Not in music — in their careers.

Graham is completing her PhD in counseling psychology at the University of Denver and expects to graduate this August. Prior to attending DU, Graham worked for eight years in corporate environments, including four in human resources at Arthur Andersen while simultaneously earning her master’s degree at Johns Hopkins University.

“I was at Arthur Andersen and got caught up in the Enron wave,” she says. “I got laid off and it made me realize that there is no such thing as job security.”

Graham worked independently for two years as a career consultant, helping people with their resumes, interview skills and salary negotiation.

“It was a nice shift from HR, to see the other side and realize how differently people worked to get hired,” she adds.

That experience directly affected her dissertation at DU. Graham’s work combined career management and personality assessment. She was trying to determine if certain personality types are apt to be better networkers than others.

“Being an introvert, I know that it is much more comfortable to sit behind a computer screen and send out your resume,” Graham explains. “But having been in HR, I know that only 10 to 15 percent of jobs are filled that way! The reality is that jobs are filled through networking.”

Graham is completing an internship at the University of Pennsylvania. After graduation, she plans to consider many fields — corporate, academic and independent. 

“I’d like to be the Suze Orman of career counseling,” she says, referencing the superstar financial adviser. “Suze provides key financial advice to the masses. I’d like to do that for people’s careers — to help people have more fulfilling lives.”

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