Staff Spotlight: Lindsey Akin
September 14, 2023
Lindsey Akin is the Career Services Officer in MS&E. After earning her masters degree in Counseling Psychology, Lindsey has primarily worked in school settings, taking on various roles throughout her 17+ year career at Stanford.
Lindsey's experience in community building, event and schedule planning, program management have all contributed to our students' experiences during their time on campus. But her passion was always to work directly with students during their educational journey. With her extensive background both at Stanford and in her studies, Lindsey strives to instill a holistic focus while working with students throughout their time at Stanford.
Santa Clara University: MA, Counseling Psychology, MFT, 2015. I studied part time for 6 years while working full time (and I graduated with a 2 ½ year old), so I have a lot of understanding and empathy for our HCP students!
University of Liverpool: BA (Hons), Politics and Communication Studies, 2000
Describe your role in Student Services
I see my role as basically a 3-circle Venn diagram: career counseling and programming, alumni relations, and content. I provide 1-1 career counseling with our BS and MS students, and work with our alumni (who are out there doing the jobs our students are interested in) to curate relevant, helpful and interesting career talks and workshops. I also provide and manage alumni-facing events such as our reunion gatherings and collaborate as part of the department content team to highlight what our alumni and graduating students are doing, for example, with our employment report data and channels such as our podcasts.
What led you to your current role?
I’d actually not thought of myself in the role until Lori suggested it. I think that was because I don’t consider myself an expert in the roles our students go into, since I’m very much NOT an engineering-brained person! But I lay awake that night thinking about how I actually didn’t need to be, because my skills are in developing relationships, asking pertinent questions to help people explore ideas, and organizing events. Plus, my masters in counseling psychology and my prior Stanford experience has equipped me with the skills and knowledge I need.
Also, we have wonderful alumni who love to come back and offer all kinds of programming. Add to this the fact that I’m just one part of an extensive (and stellar) career education network that is available at Stanford, and that I can partner with these colleagues to amplify events they’re hosting, or co-develop content. All this means I don’t need to be a 100% expert on specific things like investment banking, hiring, or resume writing. If I can help people think, build relationships, curate relevant events, and play my part getting out the word on all the wonderful things we’re (department, alumni, students) all doing, then I can do this job well.
What impact do you want to make in Student Services
Where do I start?! I guess it comes back to that Venn diagram again!
In the career counseling and programming sphere, I want to help our students feel confident as they prepare for and move into their careers, whether that is working 1-1 with them or providing programming that’ll help them identify values and priorities as they explore interests and options, build their resume/interview/LinkedIn skills, negotiate the best offer, find mentors, etc.
In the alumni relations sphere, I want to build strong relationships with alumni so they’re excited to share their expertise with our students—in various ways, from snippet tips to hosting a workshop, giving a talk, or working with students across a few quarters)—and so that we as a department know what they’d like to see in the events we provide for them. I also want to help curate various groups of alumni who have something in common—their type of work, or their stage of life, or elements of their identity—to build community and connections.
In the content sphere, I want to be a solid and reliable member of MS&E’s communications team as we come up with new ideas, such as our recent summer reading list and launch of our Instagram account. I got to produce, host and edit our graduating student podcasts this past June and absolutely loved that. I’m endlessly fascinated by people and their stories, so this part of the job was just a true gift for me.
There is so much I’ve already been doing, and so much more I want to do, that this is the first job I’ve had where I can honestly say I kind of want to do this one role until I retire—which is still quite a ways away. I’d never considered myself to be creative, but I’m being challenged in that self-belief, because I’m growing in my creativity and confidence as I have more and more ideas and get to try on new hats.
Tell us about your Stanford career journey
I’ve worked in higher education for 95% of my career and wouldn’t be in any other industry. After graduating with my BA, I worked in university residences in Liverpool and loved it. When I first moved here, I freaked out at the cost of housing (and that was 16 years ago when it was nowhere near as bad as it is now) and thought I’d have to be in the corporate world. So I tried that and hated it—it just wasn’t for me—and I came back to higher ed. After a brief spell at Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley, I came to Stanford in June 2006, doing event management and customer service for the Stanford Center for Professional Development.
Then I moved to the facilities team for the Science and Engineering Quad, managing the event and meeting spaces, cafe contracts (Coupa and Forbes), and community building, particularly as part of the team that opened the Shriram building. That was a great job and team, but I wanted more contact with students, so I went to the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences (SE3, now incorporated into the broader Doerr School of Sustainability) in a program management/student services role for a couple of years.
Then the opening came up with MS&E, and I knew I would learn so much working with Lori, plus there was much more admissions work to do, which was a part of the job at SE3 that I’d really fallen in love with. (I’m continuing to read files even though that's not a normal career services duty.) I’ve been with MS&E since January 2019, originally in a traditional student services role with a focus on our MS student population—basically "helping them get in, helping them get out."
I’m originally from North East England in the UK—a small city called Durham which is about 15 miles south of Newcastle, closer to Edinburgh than London. Then I stayed in Liverpool for a few years after graduating, before moving here to marry my American husband in 2004—we’d been long distance for 21 months.