Every Wednesday, the University Career Services staff at George Mason University begins its weekly meeting with appreciations and announcements. On the day Philip Wilkerson planned to share with his coworkers how much he values their hard work and kindness, it was Wilkerson who received the highest accolade.
Trasi Watson, associate director of industry advising and employer development, announced that Wilkerson is the university’s September Employee of the Month.
“I was so caught off guard. I was overwhelmed with joy,” Wilkerson said. “I thanked everyone in the office for their support and the ability to be myself at work. This is the first place I’ve worked where I feel celebrated in my office.”
As an industry advisor within University Career Services, Wilkerson works closely with students to help them achieve their career goals. He is known, colleagues and students say, for his diligence, personable nature, positive attitude, professionalism and his prompt responses to emails.
“My job is beyond résumés and cover letters,” said Wilkerson, who graduated from Mason with an MEd in counseling and development in 2012. “To me, it’s helping individuals gain the confidence to take the next steps in their careers. I really found my purpose working with the students. When I work with a student, I become invested in their success.”
Mentors, he said, should be facilitators, not authority figures.
“There is no other employee at Mason that displays the same passion and love for what they do quite like him,” senior communications major Cody Borden said. “He helps students not just as an advisor. He’s a mentor and a friend to students.”
“To the whole Mason community, we have a responsibility to each other to create an environment in which everyone can pursue happiness,” Wilkerson said. “I will brag about my old students. Maybe they’ll remember me, maybe they won’t. But the fact that I was able to help them makes me proud. My students’ success is my success.”
How he got here:
I came to Mason in 2009 to pursue my master’s degree in counseling. We had a mandatory internship requirement, and I did my internship at University Career Services as a career counselor intern. When I graduated in 2012, I wanted to stay at Mason but wasn’t able to get a job. I liked higher education in general, so I worked at institutions across the D.C. area. In the back of my mind I always wanted to return to Mason. In December 2017, I was fortunate to get a job back where it all started.
Best day on the job:
Hard to say. Over the past year and a half, I’ve had many highlights. The biggest surprise for me was the National Geographic event I organized in March. I did not expect more than 70 students to show up. I was floored.
What he likes best about working at Mason:
The students, hands down, no question. I grew up around here, and I see myself in many of the kids I work with. They have taught me more about myself than they realize. I feel that when I help them, I am helping a version of myself and that makes me happy. That students make this job the best!
What he likes doing when not working:
I like to podcast, watch cartoons, hang out with my wife, kids, and friends. I am not a very complicated man.