Posted On: May 21, 2020
As a client engagement specialist at Dale Carnegie of St. Louis, Susan Skinner helps develop and facilitate various courses for a global leader in workforce training. Dale Carnegie is well known for providing training solutions to leading St. Louis businesses, helping clients outpace their competition time and time again.
The Starkloff Disability Institute is pleased to be teaming up with Dale Carnegie for a webinar on May 29, where Susan will show how the Dale Carnegie method of effective communication can make our professional and personal interactions more meaningful.
Susan finds every aspect of her job challenging and rewarding, but she especially thrives on helping students achieve their goals.
“I love all of it—outreach, digital production, sales—because I love to learn. Anything that keeps my brain agile is really fun,” Susan explains. “But the facilitation is my favorite part, working with different people to identify the skills they want to develop and giving them the tools to do that.”
Even as a 14-year-old sitting in Ms. Miller’s eighth-grade English class, Susan always knew she wanted to teach.
“I had a lot of incredible teachers growing up, and I wanted to follow in their footsteps,” Susan recalls. “I wanted to take a subject that most kids hate, like English, and find ways to make it fun for them.”
As she embarked upon her college journey, however, doubt began to creep in. Could she handle the monotony of covering the same middle-school curriculum day after day, year after year? She eventually convinced herself that, no, she could not; thus, the shuffling of majors began.
A week before graduating from the University of Central Missouri in the spring of 2012, she sat down for one final visit with her academic advisor.
“I need to shake your hand,” the advisor said, a touch of amazement in her voice. Confused, Susan waited for her to continue. “Of all the students I’ve ever worked with, you’re the only one who changed majors 22 times and still managed to graduate in four years.”
“At one point during my sophomore year I changed my major to Crisis and Disaster Management,” Susan explains. “I thought I was going to be a firefighter. Why? I have no idea. That was obviously not for me.”
While Susan ultimately earned her Bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Development and never made a career of rescuing people from burning buildings, she did rediscover her flare for the classroom. She took enough education courses as an undergraduate to be a prime candidate for UCM’s Alternative Pathways to Certification program, which allowed her to earn her teaching certificate in less than two years.
The early stages of Susan’s career in education led her to the Ozarks, where she began to fulfill her mission of bringing English to life for middle schoolers. After five years of teaching in Camdenton and Osage Beach, she returned to her native St. Louis to be with her fiancé.
Due to a number of factors, Susan’s first teaching assignment in St. Louis didn’t work out. With the school year already in progress but no classroom to call home, Susan felt a familiar pang of uncertainty as she contemplated her next move. But opportunity soon materialized from an unlikely source.
“I saw Dale Carnegie’s ad on Craigslist,” Susan recalls. “I didn’t really know anything about the company, but I went ahead and applied anyway.”
A strenuous application process and seven interviews later, Susan landed her new job.
Professional development training with Dale Carnegie is a long way from teaching middle-school English in the Ozarks. While she misses her former students, Susan has enjoyed a smooth career transition.
“It’s a little different working with adults. You don’t get the kind of unfiltered response you get from young people,” Susan reflects. “But I love where I’m at. I love this opportunity to grow and share what I’ve learned through Dale Carnegie with businesses and nonprofits across St. Louis.”