Claire Reeder Fletcher ’11

A starter kit for careers.

Claire Reeder Fletcher ’11

Claire Reeder Fletcher ‘11 returned to Grinnell to share life experiences by teaching a CLS workshop

Across her career, Claire Reeder Fletcher ’11 has worked with high school students, general counsel of Fortune 500 companies, and executives in both the public and private sectors.

Despite the widely different audiences, Fletcher has noticed a common thread in how she approached those clients – one that is intrinsically linked to Grinnell College.

“Grinnell gave me the ability to see the world through someone else’s eyes and think ‘what does this person care about and how can I understand their perspective,’” she says. “It’s what critical thinking really looks like in action.”

A history and French major at Grinnell, Fletcher has spent the first nine years of her career in varying roles: AmeriCorps scholar coach with the Schuler Scholar Program, working in sales management for a legal service firm, earning a Master of Businesses Administration from the University of Michigan, and now as a management consultant for Boston Consulting Group in the Chicago office.

Her early career journey is not atypical of many Grinnell grads, and it makes Fletcher’s involvement with the College’s Center for Careers, Life & Service (CLS) a natural fit.

CLS advisers work with students to design a life that encompasses their personal, professional, and civic ambitions. Advisers encourage students to not only ask themselves what they want to do, but what problems do they want to solve.

As students develop a greater sense of direction, they transition to one or more of the CLS’s seven distinct career communities, where they receive specialized advising and programming designed to focus and connect their values, strengths, and interests to particular post-graduate goals and ambitions. Alumni have played an important role in the career communities as guest speakers and panelists, workshop facilitators, tour guides, networking connections, and internship and externship hosts. Alumni also have contributed substantial financial support.

Fletcher returned to Grinnell in September 2018 to present a case study interview workshop to the Business & Finance Career Community, which was launched in 2016 thanks to a gift from Penny Sebring ’64 and Charles A. Lewis. The two-part workshop provided insider preparation for excelling in case study interviews and succeeding in the role of a management consultant.

“Case studies are the typical interview mechanism for most consulting firms,” Fletcher says. “It’s a pretty structured path and interview process, however it’s not something students at Grinnell typically have much exposure to. I was trying to help students understand what that path looks like and how to navigate it successfully. By giving them a starter kit for case studies, students can continue to build on additional resources from the CLS.”

Fletcher says the students were excited about the workshop and an ensuing lunch and learn session. Several have reached out to her via LinkedIn since then. Fletcher had preliminary conversations about giving students a tour of Boston Consulting Group during the CLS’ spring break trek to Chicago, but the trek had to be canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Whereas the vast majority of today’s students take part in CLS engagement, Fletcher recalls that wasn’t the case for her contemporaries a decade ago. She didn’t know much about or utilize the Career Development Office (CDO). She found her summer internships through friends of friends. The CLS was established in the fall of 2013, bolstered by additional staff, resources, operational models, and an adopted new mission “to empower students and alumni to live, learn, and work with meaning and purpose,” says Mark Peltz, Daniel and Patricia Jipp Finkelman Dean of Careers, Life, and Service.

“I didn’t know what options existed,” Fletcher says about career paths. “The corporate path was a world that was too big of an identity shift for me to go into after graduation. Now with the CLS, things are much more developed. What matters is students have a view of what are the options. I think the liberal arts skillset lends itself incredibly well to so many of those options.”

A group of Alumni Volleyball players pose with a cutout of Elizabeth Warren while back on campus.
Claire Reeder Fletcher ’11, fourth from left, and several of her volleyball teammates, took a group photo with an Elizabeth Warren cut-out during Grinnell Volleyball Alumni Weekend in September 2019.

Fletcher was a volleyball standout at Grinnell, earning the 2009 Midwest Conference Player of the Year. She remains close with her teammates and has been back to campus for volleyball alumni weekends. Her husband, Ryan James Fletcher ’11, studied economics at Grinnell and played football and baseball for the Pioneers. The couple have made gifts to support all three athletic programs, as well as the Pioneer Fund and other areas.

“I think that it’s really important to give to Grinnell because of how much I got out of my experience at the College,” she says. “These opportunities for students cost a lot to provide. Offering need-blind admission and making an incredibly high quality experience to as many students as possible without consideration to financial situation requires support.

“I give to programs that matter to me,” she continued. “A donation to volleyball might buy dinner after a match or new uniforms, things that make the experience run and insures the longevity of these programs.”

While praising the strides the College has made in preparing students for life after Grinnell, Fletcher acknowledges the class of 2020 is entering the job market at a difficult time

“I really feel for this class, but it also shows that the CLS is even more important in times of challenge,” she says. “Job searching is so much about networking and people that you can reach out to, and knowing how to make connections. It’s always important, but it becomes exponentially more important now. There’s a great opportunity to strength these skills at Grinnell through the career communities.”

Careers, Life and Service is one of the six priorities in the Campaign for Grinnell College. Learn more about how the CLS provides career exploration, employer engagement, and many other offerings.

—by Jeremy Shapiro