University Park

Penn State's director of Career Services wants to lead internationally

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Jeff Garis, a Pennsylvania licensed psychologist who has worked in career services in higher education for almost 40 years, has returned to his alma mater as director of Penn State Career Services. Garis replaces Jack Rayman, who retired last December.

"Jeff’s extraordinary knowledge about career service functions combines with a truly collaborative style to make him the ideal leader for our Career Services,” said Damon Sims, Penn State vice president for Student Affairs. “He has a national reputation and connections across all of higher education, as well as the corporate community, so he’s well equipped to operate at the level of Penn State’s longstanding exemplary career development and placement activities.”

Garis' career services experience began at Penn State, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in psychology and a master of education degree in counselor education. He was first employed at Penn State as an adviser for the Freshmen Testing, Counseling and Advising Program (FTCAP) and progressed to associate director of Counseling and Programming for Career Development, while earning his doctorate in counselor education. From there Garis left Penn State to become the director of the Career Center of Florida State University in Tallahassee, a position he held for 19 years.

“I felt like it would be best for my career to experience another school,” Garis said, on why he left. “When Penn State announced Jack’s retirement and called to ask me to apply, I wasn’t even planning on leaving Florida State University, but I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

His decision to come home was made easier not because he grew up in central Pennsylvania and was returning to his alma mater, or even because Penn State was where he started his career, but because of Penn State Career Services' national reputation.

“It’s already highly regarded, ranked No. 1 in the Wall Street Journal by corporate recruiters and in other rankings, so it was a sound decision,” Garis said. “And because Penn State is a land-grant university, the quality and quantity of employers that recruit here is incredible.”

Sims is confident that Garis will continue to lead Career Services in the right direction.

“Jeff's previous experience at Penn State and his personal connections to the area give him an unusually deep familiarity with both Penn State and the commonwealth, which should be a tremendous advantage in his new role,” Sims said.

Garis said with the help of the highly regarded Penn State Career Services staff and its resources, he’s eager to take it to the next level. In the short term, he’d like to create an advisory board made of employers, students and administrators that meet often to give feedback on the services his office offers students. He also would like to implement some of the latest technology used in other career centers today, to give Penn State students a competitive advantage. In the long term, Garis would like to see more collaboration among Career Services and the University's colleges to help students make the most of their career planning. He also would like to see Career Services further develop its reputation as a national leader into one of international leadership.

“We have an impressive, comprehensive office, from freshmen testing and planning to recruiting events and alumni career services. It’s a full range,” he said. “We’re just going to take our impressive rankings to the next level.”

To learn more about Penn State Career Services, visit: online.

Jeff Garis, new director of Career Services at Penn State University Park. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated April 19, 2017