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Executive Secretary, Department of English Language & Literature
Author: Rachel Hammond
Photographer: Photo courtesy of Karly Mitchell
“Who inspires you?” Past or current presidents, missionaries, superheroes, our own mothers, and even celebrity talk-show hosts generate the most responses. For Karly Mitchell, however, a role model of a different kind comes to mind. She cites the character Mrs. Hughes, head of the female servants in the post-Titanic drama, Downton Abbey. Mrs. Hughes is strict yet motherly, as she strives to keep the manor operations running smoothly.
In an office tucked away on the third floor of Angell Hall sits Karly, who greets her visitors with a warm, cheerful smile. As the Executive Secretary for the English Language & Literature Department, Karly is responsible for preparing promotion cases, organizing recruitment activities, arranging campus visits, and carrying out several other administrative duties. When asked to comment on her favorite aspects of her job and what keeps her motivated, she replied that she has “a sick obsession with the organization that’s required - there is something really satisfying about turning in a final product to LSA that you had your hands on.” She recalls what made her time as an undergraduate student so great and how gratifying it is that she gets to help others experience the same. And Karly’s dedication to her job has not gone unnoticed.
Those who work with Karly consider her a team player who, while serving the department just shy of three years, has the “expertise and confidence of a veteran staff member.” Whether it be a small project like stuffing envelopes or developing a Google “how to” training session for her fellow staff, she is always willing to offer a helping hand. Karly managed nine campus visits this past term, a task which requires extreme proficiency (two of these involved joint searches with other units and carried their own special set of complexities). It is no wonder Karly has been selected to assist new staff in becoming successful in their roles.
Not only does Karly Mitchell do an outstanding job keeping up with her own duties and responsibilities, but she also has offered to help train fellow employees. When the Political Science and American Culture Departments hired new executive secretaries, she was particularly sought out to mentor and train them. “We have great leadership in the department,” commented Mitchell when asked how she feels about being a role model, “I was really glad to show [them] the ropes.” Also an evening MBA student, Karly says the key to success is all about balancing priorities and interests and that the toughest part of her job is “having to say ‘no’ when you can’t do everything you would like to do.” This is likely a discussion topic at the LSA Core Administrative Professionals (LCAP) group that Karly participates in.
Karly mentioned the LCAP group when asked to provide advice for others who are in similar roles at the University. A “shameless plug,” she admits, but LCAP is open to all administrative staff and is a great way to meet people in different departments and share best practices. Karly doesn’t see herself leaving academia anytime soon, and hopes to one day set up a more formal mentoring program specifically for new executive secretaries and serve as an Academic Advisor or a Key-Administrator. For now, it seems Karly Mitchell is perfectly content where she is and has this to say about her current job with the English Language & Literature Department: “best co-workers I’ve ever had and the best office window I’ve ever had.”
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