Five Questions with Cathy Padgett

Cathy Padgett says she has the coolest job in the Gillings School.

Name: Cathy Padgett
Position: Career services coordinator / internship coordinator, Department of Health Policy and Management
Time at the Gillings School: 12 years (Before coming to the Gillings School, I worked in UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School for 16 years.)

 

Cathy Padgett celebrates with her daughter and mother on her daughter's graduation day.

Cathy Padgett (center) celebrates with her daughter (left) and mother on her daughter’s graduation day. (Contributed photo)

What I do at UNC Gillings (and why I love it): I help students get jobs. Of course, my unofficial job title is “cruise director!” I prepare our students, which could mean helping with resumes or application writing, tweaking their responses during mock interviews and advising them on any job offers they receive: Is it a good offer? It is the right fit?

I’ve got the coolest job in the entire School. I love our students. When people ask how many children I have, I always say, “There’s the one I gave birth to, and in any given year there are about 250 more!” They need a sounding board and I’m the one who listens. I don’t usually give them answers; I just let them talk long enough that they find the answers for themselves. The questions run the gamut, too – some days my job involves people asking where to get a good haircut or which suit to buy for a job interview. It’s so much fun. I get up every morning and think, “Wow. They pay me to do this!”

 

An interesting day I’ve had at work: It’s hard to choose just one story! I work with students, so there’s no shortage of strangeness. There are days I drive home thinking, “Did that really just happen?” After the last election, there were 10 to 15 people in my office crying, and I had to “pull a mama” on my chickadees and tell them to toughen up. On a regular basis, I counsel students not to take on too much at one time. Basically, I don’t want to get the call saying one of my kids had a breakdown and is up on a roof chucking rocks at people.

 

If I could have dinner with anyone in the world: it’d be a toss-up between Eleanor Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson. I just want to know more about both of them! With Jefferson, I’d want to get the scoop on all the scandals we know about now. With Roosevelt, I’d just like to be in the company of such a strong woman.

 

Outside the office: I have frequent adventures in home improvement. I love to paint rooms and do yard work. My life is like HGTV… there’s always a project going on. I’m very into instant gratification – slap up some new light fixtures or crown molding, and you feel so darn accomplished.

 

In my office, I have: a bullwhip, for starters. That was a gift from a student in the business school. In that job, I used to joke that our theme song should have been the one from “Rawhide” because we herded nearly 300 students a year through the MBA program. “Move ‘em on, head ‘em up!” What else? I’ve got a voodoo doll someone brought from New Orleans. I’ve got three adult-sized elf costumes that we use during our holiday party every year. I’ve got a full toolbox, lace doilies, an inflatable mattress, wrapping paper… let’s just say, if you need it, I’ve got it. My office is where archival documents come to die, too. Want a student research poster from 1997?


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