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N.C. Secretary of Natural and Cultural Resources shares her career journey and opportunities within her department

By Elisabeth Wall

BOONE—Appalachian State University’s Career Development Center facilitated a question-and-answer panel discussion with Secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Susan Kluttz in early November, during which the secretary shared her career path and opportunities within her department. Attending were a handful of Appalachian students with a variety of interests and majors including Appalachian studies, non-profit management, global studies, hospitality and tourism management, and history.

View larger imageDuring a recent visit to Appalachian State University, Secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Susan Kluttz told students, “First and foremost, find work you are passionate about.”View larger imageAppalachian State University students from a variety of majors and interests posed with Secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Susan Kluttz, center in blue suit, after a question-and-answer forum on campus in early November.

The department, which employs more than 2,500 personnel and operates on a $160 million annual budget, now includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, the nation’s first state-supported symphony orchestra, the N.C. Museum of Art, the N.C. Museum of History, the State Archives, the State Historic Preservation Office, the Office of State Archaeology, the State Library, the N.C. Arts Council, the N.C. Zoological Park, the N.C. Aquariums, the N.C. State Parks, the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the Natural Heritage Program. Many, if not most, of these entities offer internship opportunities.

Kluttz said approximately 20 percent of all state government internships are in the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, and current employment opportunities for entry-level positions for college graduates include curator, preservationist, communication specialist and park ranger, among others.

Dr. Susan McCracken, director of career development and economic engagement at the university, arranged Kluttz’ visit to the campus. McCracken said she wanted the many students at Appalachian “who are pursuing majors in the arts and humanities to be aware career opportunities in these areas are numerous and comprise a significant portion of our state economy.”

In fact, according to research from the N.C. Arts Council cited by Kluttz, “non-profit arts and cultural organizations and audiences are a $1.24 billion industry in the state and are responsible for more than 300,040 jobs. There are so many ways that people who major in the arts touch and find jobs in North Carolina,” she said, adding, “Feel free to contact me – Dr. McCracken has my cell phone number,” as she ticked off a number of internships and full-time positions currently available in her department.

Kluttz, who graduated summa cum laude from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, said the English classes she took during college were some of the most valuable. “No matter what occupation you pursue,” she said, “you must be able to communicate with others.” She also encouraged the students “first and foremost to find work you are passionate about.”

Kluttz served as mayor of Salisbury from 1997 until 2011.

As secretary, a role she assumed in January 2013, she led a statewide effort to restore the State Historic Preservation Tax Credits, which were successfully reinstated in the 2015 budget. For her efforts, she was recognized by the N.C. American Institute of Architects with its 2015 Legacy Award and by Historic Wilmington with its 2015 Preservation Award of Leadership.

Kluttz said the historic preservation tax credits have made a huge impact on smaller cities in North Carolina. She, with other family members, restored the Kluttz building in Salisbury in the late 1990s, contributing to a resurrection of that city’s downtown.

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About Appalachian’s Career Development Center

Appalachian’s Career Development Center provides career, internship and employment advising to undergraduate and graduate students. In addition to college-based career development programming, the center supports the Career Exploration Office, which reaches over 6,000 students each year, and Student Employment, which serves nearly 5,000 students each year. The center and its staff provides individual student advising as well as other programs, such as Coffee and Careers, etiquette programs, resume clinics, LinkedIn workshops, and group presentations to classes, clubs and residence halls. The center hosts two annual career fairs known as CareerFest, which this year included more than 200 employers.

About Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 18,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.