Make Your Next Move: Advice from 2016 Award Winners Samantha Collier and Dr. Brad Striebig

What is the Make Your Next Move Award?

Career & Academic Planning recognizes faculty and staff for their “outstanding work helping students move forward with their career goals and plans” through the Make Your Next Move Award. This award acknowledges those who have invested in students’ success from finding an internship, deciding on a major, pursuing a career path, to preparing for graduate school.

Meet the 2016 Award Winners

The 2016 winners Samantha Collier, Director of Experiential Learning in the College of Business, and Dr. Brad Striebig, Professor of Engineering, have advised your fellow JMU classmates with their career plans.

Now they have advice to help you!


Why this Year’s Award Winners Were Nominated

About Sam: “She encouraged me to get involved, which has led to me joining Massachusetts Society of CPAs and Beta Alpha Psi. If it wasn’t for her, I would still be unsure of what I want to do with my accounting degree and where I see myself in just a few, short years. I feel a lot better about where I stand and look forward to pursuing a degree in Accounting.”

About Brad: “Dr. Striebig was essential in helping me to determine my career path and next steps after graduation as well as for helping prepare me during my time at JMU. He mentored me as well as many other students and assisted us to gain skills and unique experiences that would distinguish us in our field and make us competitive in the job market and future endeavors.”

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Were you surprised to receive this award?


I was very surprised to receive this award.  I enjoy working with students and helping them with developing their professional goals.  I am honored that College of Business student Alicia Rosen nominated me for this award.


Yes, I was surprised. So many JMU faculty are outstanding teachers have a tremendous impact in and out of the classroom, so it is an honor to be recognized and represent the impact on students, as many JMU faculty spend a tremendous amount of their personal time invested in the students and I don’t believe any of us do it with the expectation of receiving an award. We invest that time in students because we are invested in the relationships we establish with our students and we have the ability to help them achieve their goals.

Why do you feel called to mentor students in preparing now for their lives after JMU?


I am passionate about helping people find their strengths and reach their goals.  I chose a career in higher education so that I could help students succeed, personally and professionally.  I had amazing mentors in high school and college who helped me find my passions and I am happy that I can now do the same for our students here at JMU.


I’ve spoken to quite a few audiences recently about the power of education to transform lives, as I have personally experienced it. Once upon a time, I was an undergraduate who struggled with more than one engineering subject. It was the extra time in office hours and support from my professors that allowed me to achieve professional and personal goals, which I could not even imagine as a freshmen engineering student. I’ll be forever indebted to my mentors and the education they provided along the way – some of which was very tough. Anything I can do for students today may help towards paying that debt of gratitude to the mentors in my life.

What is your best piece of advice for students in regard to making their next move?


I encourage all students to GET INVOLVED and NETWORK!  Join a club, attend a lecture, and try and meet a new person each week.  Take advantage of all the resources that JMU has to offer.  These resources help prepare students for life after college!


Reach out to your professors early and often in your JMU career (but it is never too late, even after graduation!) The JMU faculty are the best professionals and have a great deal of experience students can learn from. However, the students have to take the initiative to engage in conversation and follow-up opportunities. For instance, I put a call out each year for students interested in Earth and Environmental Systems Engineering Research. Students that respond early on can participate in undergraduate research and plan a curriculum to help them gain unique skill sets as an undergraduate. I also frequently get questions in the last few weeks of a student’s JMU career about how to find job in environmental engineering, in which case I can connect them with job listings and sometimes employers, but when they discuss this so late in their careers they do not have the time to gain the experiences and skills that really make their applications stand out to potential employers and graduate opportunities. Early or late in your career spending a few minutes talking to the expert faculty at JMU will really help students “Make Your Next Move!”

Why is it important for students to get involved, and in what ways should students get involved for career success?


I encourage all students to get involved, personally and professionally, while they are in college. Joining an organization on campus can help a student hone their leadership and teamwork skills. Joining a professional organization as a student can help a student identify career paths, as well as provide them with more knowledge about their field of study.

What are a few ways JMU students can make themselves competitive now for their professions?


I’m only qualified to speak for engineering students, since I’ve been an engineer for over 25 years, but I think the answer may be relevant for other fields as well.

  1. The “How” is more important than the “What” and much harder to achieve; students need to learn not just “What” should be done, but also need to put in the time gaining experience learning “How” to accomplish a goal or task.
  2. Jump in and don’t be afraid to fail by trying both old and new ideas. New engineers should be supervised by more experienced professionals and they will be able to help new graduates become experts with traditional approaches and will appreciate the entrepreneurial attitude of new attitudes who try to bring new ideas and technologies with them.
  3. Look for intersections of your work and extra-curricular experiences. In my 25 years of experience, I’ve observed that the most successful students are those that combine their technical skills with their personal interests to bring something special to their work, it might be additional skills with languages, art, or compassion for people that allow students to “be the change.”

What do you love most about being a part of the JMU community?


JMU is a large school, with a small feel.  I am blessed to work with amazing faculty and staff who care about students and their success.  The College of Business mission, vision and values are ones that I live by daily.


JMU’s emphasis on goal-oriented learning that allows students to work on projects that have real-world implications is an ideal place to develop innovative engineering education curriculum. As a point in fact, myself, Dr. Maria Papadakis in ISAT, Dr. Adabayo Ogundipe and several other JMU engineering faculty were able to develop a curriculum for sustainable engineering and development that has resulted in an award-winning textbook. 

Congratulations, Sam and Brad! Thank you for all you do for JMU students!


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