Mark Thaden ’02

            1.  What was your major/minor and when did you graduate?

I was a business administration major.  Graduated in 2002.

            1. What is your current position (title, company, location)?  Can you describe a typical day?

I am currently the Executive Director of Alumni Relations at the University of Mary Washington.  In my role, I support the 42,000+ Mary Washington alumni throughout the globe by providing ways for them to stay connected with UMW and with each other.  Our goal is to create a diverse range of impactful and meaningful programming that appeals to a broad section of alumni.  There is something  for everyone!

            1. How did your major prepare you for your current job?

Several facets of my major prepared me for my position.  Finance and accounting classes helped prepare me for building and overseeing the UMW Alumni Association budget and accounts.  Communications courses strengthened my public speaking and professional writing, two skills that are critical in my position.  Marketing classes laid the foundation for my approach of “selling” programs and services to alumni.  Finally, my internship with a Public Relations and Marketing firm gave me hands-on experience that I needed to edge out the other candidates for my first job after college.

  1. How did you become interested in your field?

From a young age I had an entrepreneurial spirit.  I grew up rurally and as a child started several small businesses including produce stands and car detailing.  During high school I was involved in many student organizations and enjoyed the program coordination and business side of the student organization rather than just participation in the club activities.  That lead to a realization that organizational development and communication were my true interests.  I was able to secure an internship with a local Public Relations and Marketing firm during my senior year at Mary Washington, where I developed a stronger interest and appreciation for program development, public relations, and got exposure into event coordination.  After graduation, I accepted a fundraising position and enjoyed communicating institutional needs and working towards tangible goals. A byproduct of the position was exposure alumni relations, and felt that my interests and skills aligned more with program development and constituent support.  I have worked in several alumni relations positions since.

  1. What’s the best career advice you ever received?

If it doesn’t make you happy, then it’s not worth doing.  You spend too much of your life working to not enjoy what you do.

  1. Was there a professor, advisor, or fellow student who made an impression on you or helped you when you were at UMW?

My marketing professor also served as my advisor.  While a bit quirky, she increased my motivation and confidence by encouraging me to do more and be better.  She genuinely cared about my success and was available to help when needed.

  1. What’s your fondest memory of UMW?

I was a night owl and frequently studied in Trinkle Hall.  I was also one of the few freshmen who had a car on campus.  Every night at midnight I would take a break and go to Waffle House with whomever showed up outside Trinkle Hall.  (this is before most people had cell phones and there was no social media) Sometimes it took two car trips, but the comradery and friendships formed in that dumpy Waffle House were priceless.

  1. Are there any special accomplishments you’ve achieved after college that you’d like to share?

I went back to graduate school (while working full time) and received my MBA from Averett University in 2008. Alumni programs under my direction have received several awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) over the years.

  1. How would your family or friends describe you in seven words or less?

Supportive and hardworking husband and father.

  1. In one sentence, what advice would you give current business students? 

Take advantage of opportunities that give you hands-on experience and exposes you to a larger network of professionals.