Nikes and New Jobs

PROVO, Utah – Jun 02, 2022 – Wearing Nike shoes, surrounded by BYU sports paraphernalia in his office without a textbook in sight, Bill Keenan works to put the job-seeking students he advises at ease. As a career advisor at the BYU Marriott Business Career Center, Keenan tailors his teaching and advising to help undergraduates find jobs after graduation.

“It’s rewarding to feel like perhaps I’ve made a difference to someone,” Keenan expresses. Working specifically with students in BYU Marriott’s Management Department—those studying human resource management, strategic management, and entrepreneurship—Keenan helps undergraduates improve their résumés, practice interviews, and think through job options.

After working in the strategy field for more than 30 years, Keenan started working at BYU Marriott in 2014. “There’s nowhere I'd rather be,” he remarks. “At BYU Marriott, I’m not wondering if another industry or job is more worthwhile.” Keenan shares that throughout the course of his career, the main questions he kept asking himself were “Am I actually helping society?” and “Can I make more of a difference doing something else?

“I don’t have to worry about those questions at BYU Marriott because I feel I have the most chances to individually help someone than at other times in my career,” continues Keenan. He enjoys being part of an organization he believes in. Accordingly, Keenan strives to help students find and land jobs at places they are interested in. “The best payback is when I feel I have truly helped a student in their job search,” says Keenan.

Learning from his own diverse career with Bain & Company, Ancestry, and Adobe, Keenan emphasizes how crucial it is to stay flexible and open to new opportunities during your career. “Most times picking a career is a matter of trial and error,” he says. “Everyone is going to change at some point.”

Always the career advisor, Keenan advises students to make the best decision they can now and to keep their eyes open for more opportunities as they move forward. He continues, “I know most of us would prefer to be able to see and plan out our lives with some degree of detail and accuracy, but that has not been my experience.” With that in mind, Keenan focuses on taking the mystery and guesswork out of students’ job search so they can credibly explore as many options as possible.

For example, in the career development class he teaches at BYU Marriott, Keenan uses real-world data from surveys that he has conducted to show job-hunting trends among BYU Marriott graduates. “When I'm teaching, instead of just pointing to my own experiences, I can use data to tell my students that this is what their peers are saying about their experiences finding a job,” explains Keenan.

Keenan expresses his hope that students find the survey results helpful because they present a clearer idea of the number of hours, applications, and interviews that finding a job requires.

In addition to being data-driven with how he teaches; Keenan finds other ways to relate to the students he interacts with. “I’m at the career center as a sounding board and a resource. If I can be relatable, then the students I’m talking with will tell me what they’re genuinely thinking,” he says. “The way I dress is part of that—I try to fit in and wear more business casual clothes like nice sneakers and crewnecks.” He continues, “If I am more comfortable to be around, then the people I’m teaching or advising are more comfortable.”

Headshot of Bill Keenan, a bald middle-aged white man wearing a dark blue suit and lighter blue shirt.
Bill Keenan, career advisor at the BYU Marriott Business Career Center. Photo Courtesy of Bill Keenan.
Bill Keenan in his office. He is on a rolling office chair and looking at his computer. He is wearing a blue sweatshirt. There are several BYU football pictures on the shelf above him.
Bill Keenan in his office in the Tanner Building. Photo courtesy of Bill Keenan.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Liesel Allen