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Getting to know Claire Wu

“Every person is different and is motivated differently. The opportunity to get to know and understand each person I encounter energizes me.”

Claire Wu

Claire Wu is the assistant director of career development for the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. Before she assumed her role in September 2015, she worked for Emory University, as a program operation manager and career coach. She’s also served as an associate program director at the University of Chicago and a educational outreach and quality assurance analyst at Emory University. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Public Health from Taipei Medical University and her master’s degree in Health Policy and Management from Emory University.

What made you decide to get into this field? Is there one specific moment that inspired your career path?

“I am one of those people who didn’t know what they wanted to be when they grew up. I have lots of interests and love the process of learning. About six years ago, I made a career transition from research compliance to career coaching for public health students. Although I’m a quick learner, the first year was still a fairly steep learning curve. Many times, I asked myself whether this was the right decision for me.

“At the beginning of the second year, I started to work with an alum. After almost eight months of working with her on better managing her career, she called me and let me know that she accepted a job offer that would be an excellent fit for her interests and her life situation. I got emails and phone calls like this all the time, yet this time was different. She told me the reason she was able to stick with the lengthy process and finally reach her goal was because of the time that she spent with me and the things that she learned from me.

“That was the moment I realized that career coaching is my career. People don’t always get to do their dream job right away; I was 35 when I found mine. The key is to never stop searching.”

Why did you choose to work at Oregon State/CPHHS? 

“Choosing to work for Oregon State is a decision I made in order to live my dream. My husband and I talked about moving to Oregon for more than five years. But we didn’t do it because we were comfortable where we were. The year before we moved to Oregon, my grandmother passed away and it got me thinking about whether I was living my dream. We decided to pursue our dream, and Oregon State opened its arms to us.

“I feel fortunate to be able to work with students who want to be the best version of themselves and with faculty and staff who stretch themselves and resources to educate future leaders.”

What is your favorite part about working as an assistant director at the Career Development Center?

“I feel privileged that our students share their stories with me and allow me to be their partner as they try to reach their career goals. I also enjoy working with on- and off-campus partners. Their passion for creating opportunities for students to learn and grow despite limited resources inspires again and again.”

What do you believe is your greatest career accomplishment so far?

“My students are my greatest accomplishment. I’ve worked with so many students who share with me that spending time with me and the things they learn from me empower them to believe in themselves and motivate them to reach their career goals. Whenever I get an email, phone call or sometimes an in-person meeting like this, it reaffirms why I do what I do and why I love my job.”

How do you strive to affect people’s lives with your work?

“Every person is different and is motivated differently. The opportunity to get to know and understand each person I encounter energizes me. With students and colleagues, we develop strategies together to reach our goals. Sometimes we explore different options for the challenges we face. Sometimes I am the cheerleader for the team. I see myself as a partner to every single person I meet and try to add values to every minute we spend together.”

What is the best advice you ever received, and who gave it?

“I’m an outcome-driven person and plan ahead and check off my goals. Every moment that I’m awake, I have goals and objectives to be accomplished in an hour, by the end of the day or in the near future. About 12 years ago, I went through a time when I had no idea what I could be doing next with my life. I had just reached the first life goal that I’d set when I was 13. I felt so lost, mostly because I didn’t have my next life goal lined up. My career coach at the time told me that it is OK to have no goals and to feel lost for a while.

“But having no goals or plans was out of my comfort zone. I felt like I was drifting and felt a lot of anxiety. Working with my career coach, I learned to take time to reflect on who I was and explore my options and who I wanted to become. It turned out to be a skill that I have used over and over again in order to go through life transitions.”

What is one surprising thing about you that not many people know?

“Many people know me as a planner who is organized and good at creating structure. Not many people know that I forget where I park my car almost every day. If you see me wandering around in the parking lot, most likely I am trying to remember where I left my car.”

What are your favorite activities outside of work?

“Reading about human behaviors has been a lifelong hobby. The human decision-making process fascinates me. Understanding how people think and decide to act, especially people who hold values and beliefs that are very different from mine, is so much fun. I can’t get enough of it.

“My husband and I also enjoy spending time outside in the woods. I also love the Corvallis farmers market!”