Scholar alumna helping clients discover their professional identities

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — After leaving Penn State in 2011 with an honors degree in English, Dana Ray taught English as a Fulbright Teaching Assistant in Bulgaria. She earned a master’s degree from Bucknell University. She worked as an account manager and copy writer at a marketing agency. She always felt she was working toward a career in academia, but she often had the feeling that what she was doing was only half-right for her.

She remembered how much she enjoyed helping Penn State students write their personal statements, with training she had received at the Penn State Writing Center, and the power that a person can harness from writing, or saying, who they truly are out loud.

“I think everyone has this kind of statement of who they are and how they best are in the world,” Ray said, “and I want to help people figure out how to do that in a way that makes them come alive.”

The founder of Dana M. Ray Consulting, the Schreyer Honors Scholar and College of Liberal Arts alumna has been helping business leaders figure out who they are and how that aligns with the purpose and goals of their companies for the better part of the past year as a narrative marketing consultant. In the process, she has found professional fulfillment in helping others find the same.

“I can help people say their stories clearly in a way that will help them do the work that matters to them,” Ray said. “That’s what I had been trying to do as a teacher, as an academic, as a writer, and then in marketing. I thought, ‘I’ll just get way more explicit about it.’”

One of Ray’s clients is a professional dancer who is setting out in a solo career and establishing business niche in training dancers who don’t have regular partners. She helped another client realize that his fundamental way of functioning is to challenge people, both in his career life and personal life, and that he should shape his business aspirations accordingly.

“My favorite is to work with people who are building businesses, because there’s a very clear application,” she said. “They are trying to tell their story to a specific group of people and they’re trying to understand their story in a very different way. It’s got urgency around it.”

A self-described “recovering perfectionist,” Ray said the past year has been a personal evolution as much as a business evolution for her. Her business is based in State College but she has clients in various parts of the country. The key, she believes, is finding people whose personal stories are “critical for them to get something done.”

“I am really particular about the type of people that I choose to work with,” she said. “I want to believe in the kind of work they’re doing as well, and the change they’re trying to make in the world. That’s where the magic is in all of this.”

Last Updated April 13, 2018