Looking for Career Clarity? Fellow Domers Are Ready to Serve

We're guessing you've heard this line from our buddy Confucius: “Choose a job you love, and you'll never have to work a day in your life." Sounds pretty good, right? But most of us know that finding fulfillment in one's daily work isn't always a guarantee; in fact, sometimes it's a mighty struggle! Fortunately, there's a team of people who can help -- whether you're adapting to your first entry-level job, contemplating a transition, re-entering the workforce or thinking about retirement. And you already share something in common with these helpers: besides being experienced, professional career coaches working with the ND Alumni Association, they're also ND alumni.

Who Are They? Meet the ND Alumni Association's Career Coaches


Jeannie (Euch) Denuo '84 has 15+ years of experience coaching senior level executives, including many from Fortune 500 firms. As a senior level manager in an advertising media firm, she spent a lot of time on personnel issues, and it was her favorite part of the job. She realized, though, that the higher she climbed up the ladder, the more her job shifted away from a focus on people. When she began exploring ways to reinvent herself, coaching fit perfectly with her skills, passions and lifestyle.


Julianne Franke ‘73 started as a resume writer, but quickly realized that the resume was only a small piece of the career transition process. She says, “I wanted to do more for my clients. That broader interest led to outplacement work, then consulting assignments, then to establishing my own practice after getting several certifications. I was always fascinated with careers and passionate about helping my clients make significant life and career transitions."


Sue Matson ‘77, meanwhile, began offering coaching services to individuals with whom she had established professional relationships, helping them transition to their next opportunities after they had departed various corporate positions.  


Kay McBrearty ‘85 spent 20 years in a corporate career, where she served first as a recruiting liaison at ND and later as a Corporate Director of Staffing and College Relations and Director of Shared Values, among other leadership roles. She managed, mentored, interviewed and coached countless team members throughout her career, even helping to establish a women's mentoring and networking organization and Notre Dame's Career Day at Mendoza. She says, “During the past five years I've focused on helping clients get ‘unstuck’ on the career front, including pivoting, reinventing or launching themselves on a fulfilling path. You could say I've been career coaching my entire adult life.”


Paul Perez ‘88 completed a flying tour with the Navy in the Bay Area and took an assignment as an officer recruiter with Navy Recruiting District Seattle. He recalls, “My pregnant wife (Paula, ND ‘88) and I loaded up our black lab and all our stuff and headed north. My tour in recruiting was both as an executive recruiter and career coach. It was a major inflection point in my life and calling, and I never went back to flying.”


Theresa Sullivan ‘98 graduated with a business degree in MIS. She says, “By the time I was 30 years old I'd achieved most of the things I set out to do in my professional career, including consulting, sales, Business School and even a stint as a PhD candidate. But I still felt no real fulfillment in my work. I took the time to figure out what I wanted for myself and how I wanted to serve the world, and coaching was a very natural and fulfilling fit for me. I have the best job in the world!”

These Coaches LOVE Their Work with Domers


Whatever the differences in their backgrounds and paths to career coaching, these professionals share an important quality: they truly enjoy working with fellow Notre Dame alumni.

In describing these individuals, Sue talks about people of high values who are appreciative of her time and “unfailingly courteous and generous.” Similarly, Theresa mentions the caliber of the character she sees in clients. She says, “Of course they're smart and driven, but I find that beyond that, so many ND alum want to make a positive, meaningful impact on the world, and I admire and celebrate their commitment to that.”

Paul, Jeannie, and Kay each highlight the shared experiences of ND grads, or as Paul says, “We are a pretty exclusive ‘club.’ It really is like being a Navy veteran. We have a common understanding of the core values of our Alma Mater.” Jeannie adds, "It is great working with ND alum in that there are many values we share by virtue of the fact that we chose a special place like Notre Dame to study. This common ground means we can get down to business faster." Kay agrees that ND alum are "a special breed, each with his/her unique internal compass, yet bound together by the shared values experienced and strengthened while under the Dome." She affirms, "It's rewarding to join alumni on their journeys as they entertain their next transitions."

Julianne appreciates the ways that Domers form connections regardless of age, professional level, or career focus. She goes on to say, “The alum I've worked with are committed to delivering high standards with integrity and a passion for service.”

Their Go-To Career Tools and Websites


These coaches have plenty of helpful resources to recommend, and here are just a few.

Jeannie:  LinkedIn is my favorite resource. It's really changed how we connect and market ourselves.

Julianne: I like the Gallup Strengths Finders Assessment, which identifies your strengths and helps you learn how to leverage them to be more creative, productive, and successful in all your professional endeavors.

Sue: I often share an article that Peter Drucker published more than 20 years ago, “Managing Oneself.”  He provides five questions that help people seeking new positions to define what they are (and are not) looking for in their next opportunity.  

Kay: There's no magic bullet, app or tool that will navigate your career for you. That said, there are several TED talks and books that may be helpful to those in transition. I'm a fan of Amy Cuddy and Simon Sinek. For those launching their careers I suggest "The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter -- and How to Make the Most of Them Now" by Meg Jay. It's a great read for 20-somethings and their parents. I'm also a fan of the NDAA's Clear-Sighted Career Online Learning Series for practical tips and insights.

Paul: 48 Days by Dan Miller. It’s simple, straightforward and very impactful.

Theresa: Knowing and accepting your talents, interests and drivers is central to finding the right work. I ask all of my clients to take a free MBTI assessment at to get them thinking about their ways of ‘being’ in the world. For a client who is a classic overachiever (and it seems like almost all ND alumnae fit into this category), I recommend a free tool my partner and I have on our website to help women disentangle what they’re good at from what they love doing. This isn't always obvious to individuals who are good at and capable of so many things!


Their Top Pieces of Career Advice for Alumnae

Theresa tells clients, “Always know your ‘why.’ Even when you're just starting out, know who you are and what you want from your life, and choose a career situation that supports it. If you find that your career and vision for what you want in your life are not in alignment, have the courage to make the changes necessary to align them. Your work should serve your life, not the other way around.”

Embracing a similar holistic perspective, Julianne says, “Go beyond the analytical and practical to the emotional. Become more aware of yourself, who you are, your personal brand, your key strengths and values.” She advises working with a career coach who can “offer objective insight to help you better understand your value, while providing guidance, accountability, and support to leverage your full potential.”

Paul extends this message by recommending that individuals seek clarity. He says, “It goes a long way to arriving at a place of peace. Define what YOUR God-given calling is and jettison the ‘keeping up the Joneses’ mindset that pervades so many hearts and minds. As the old saying goes, ‘Go with your heart. The money will follow." Jeannie agrees, recommending, "Don’t stay with a job or career path just because you are good at it. Be sure your work is in alignment with your values and makes you come alive."

Like the other coaches, Kay’s process applies across stages of the career continuum, from those launching to those in their second act or entering retirement. She tells alumni, “Take time to reflect on and understand your own unique internal compass. Armed with that information, make decisions that are the best fit for you -- regardless of your degrees, experiences or what you ‘think’ others expect you to do.”  She also reminds clients that they are ultimately in charge of their own careers, and advises, “Take responsibility, ask for help if you need it, and then do the work and enjoy the adventures, learning from each and every opportunity along the way.”

Finally, Sue reminds people of the importance of networking in their daily lives. “This is a cliché,” she says, “but networking should be part of your business practices all the time, not just when you are seeking a new position.” Sue encourages clients to think of networking as sharing and connecting.  She adds, “If you continually look for ways to help others meet people they should know and learn things they would find valuable, they will appreciate you as a resource. Then, when you need help in a search, they will be happy to reciprocate.”

And a bonus: Kay likes to tell clients (in the words of Bryan Dyson, former CEO of Coca-Cola) that in life we are all juggling five balls: Family, Friends, Faith, Health and Career. All are made of glass, except for the career ball. That is made of rubber and will bounce back. We need to take special care of our four glass balls, and career coaches are happy to assist with the bouncy one!

What's Next? Connecting with a Career Coach

Okay, so let's say you're interested in chatting with one of these helpful and energetic individuals. First, familiarize yourself with the NDAA Coaching approach. The program provides comprehensive career coaching services to Notre Dame graduates in partnership with Career Spa, LLC, an organization led by Founder and Principal Tom Darrow '87.

When asked about his collaboration with the NDAA, Tom says, "As a second generation Notre Dame alumnus, I can’t think of much else that has given me as much gratification as working with fellow alum to serve fellow alum. The Alumni Coaching Alumni program has already shown that Notre Dame alumni are receiving valuable services to help them manage their careers. This program is a unique offering that other universities have not provided (to this extent) to their alumni.  Go Irish!"

Once you understand the basics of the coaching program, you'll have the opportunity to fill out the Alumni Association's Career Services inquiry form, which will initiate the process illustrated here:

Whatever the particulars of your personal career journey, NDAA Career and Professional Services offers a wealth of resources, ranging from self-assessment tools, resume and cover letter reviews and career coaching to networking resources, job listings, industry-specific advice and more. Check them out today!

Many thanks to the NDAA and the career coaches for generously sharing their thoughts and insider advice for this piece.

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