Iowa Now: A Conversation with Ilsa May

Monday, August 13, 2012
Professional Development Associate Director Ilsa May
Photo by Tom Jorgensen


So what do you do here?

I have two main focus areas in the College of Engineering. Within Engineering Professional Development, I coordinate our engineering career fairs and employer relations, advise engineering students on career/professional development topics, and plan career events/programs. I also conduct admissions visits and outreach with prospective students and families to help them learn more about the University of Iowa’s College of Engineering and the possibilities of an engineering education.

What do you enjoy most about working in a higher education setting?

The collective impact that students, faculty, and staff make. It is so interesting to hear about the accomplishments that occur in higher education—whether it’s a faculty member conducting research to improve our lives or a student organization advocating for social change, I enjoy being inspired from the brilliant and hard-working people around me.

Take us through your most memorable day at the university.

The day after our Spring Engineering Career Fair. It was a big on-campus interviewing day, where the companies who attended the fair interview students they met the day before. I was happy (and relieved) the fair was successful and I got to see students come into the Pomerantz Career Center all dressed up and excited for their interviews. It was a fun and rewarding day.

What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken—and did it pay off?

Right before completing my master’s degree, I was offered a job in Indiana where I had been working as a graduate assistant for two years. I loved working there, but really wanted to be closer to friends and family so I declined the offer. It was a tough decision to make and a big risk since I didn’t have another job prospect in the works. It definitely paid off—I have a position here that allows me to learn and grow professionally and I am closer to friends and family!

If you could spend a day with anyone, from any era, who would it be and why?

My parents when they were in their mid-20s. I really enjoy spending time with them now and think it would be fun to see what they were like then and how they saw their future.

If you could have a song written about you, who would perform it, and what would it be called?

John Lennon would perform it since we share the same birthday and I would give him artistic freedom to name it. His musical talent surpasses mine!

If you could get rid of one invention in the world, what would you choose? Why?

Automatic hand dryers. They rarely seem to work and there’s something gross about leaving the bathroom with wet hands.

Name five of your favorite things.

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Oliver & Motley (my cats)
  • Delicious food (Iowa City has amazing restaurants!)
  • Fall festivities (bonfire gatherings, football games, crunchy leaf walks, etc.)