“It’s always nice to get a little pat on the back every once in awhile,” said Mike Stover, Guntersville High Class of 1991. “This was a nice surprise.”
The “nice surprise” was his employer, Auburn University, recognizing Stover with the annual Faculty and Staff Award. He works in the school’s Office of Professional and Career Development, networking with large and small companies to find jobs and internships for Auburn students and graduates.
He celebrates his 7th anniversary with Auburn this month. He is 48.
“It’s very easy to sell something you love and believe in,” said Stover, an Auburn man through and through.
Stover’s own story is one of a hometown boy made good. His family moved to Guntersville before he started the 8th grade. They’d moved around a good bit, but Guntersville became home because he lived here longer than he’d lived anywhere else as a youth and he went through high school here.
He played football and basketball and ran track. In between, he was always working. His family lived in Guntersville Housing Authority apartments and he got to know former long-time housing director Bill Yancy as a result.
“Bill Yancy gave me my first job that wasn’t cutting grass when I was in the 9th grade,” Stover said. “I worked in general maintenance. I did a lot of painting and fixing stuff. It was nothing technical. I was the helper. I learned a lot, especially from the guys and what they talked about during the work day.”
Later, he worked at Food World, now Foodland, across from GHS. The high school had a mentorship program and he once spent a day tagging along with longtime Advertiser-Gleam editor Sam Harvey.
“I got to see how the Gleam was put together,” Stover said. “I remember going with him to the police station to get police reports.”
He said there was never a question for him about whether he would go to college. He viewed it as a path to a better life for himself.
“That’s not the only path,” he said. “A lot of my friends from high school are super successful and did not go to college.”
Stover had gone to an Auburn football game with Wayne Gilley and Bill Gilley. He instantly fell in love with the place. But the road to his college education was not an easy one. He had a couple of small scholarships. He would go to school a quarter and take off a quarter to work, often 2 jobs at a time, until he got his degree.
He started as a freshman at Auburn. In hindsight, he said he probably would have done better to start at Snead State Community College.
“Some of my freshman classes had more people in them than we had in our graduating class at Guntersville,” he said. It was a shock to say the least and he said he almost got himself in trouble academically right off the bat. But he adjusted and made it through.
He works as a liaison to companies large and small for Auburn’s business school, finding jobs for Auburn grads.
Coming out of the pandemic, Stover said Auburn is positioned well going into the future.
“Our board of trustees capped our enrollment at 30,000,” he said. “We don’t want to overwhelm the town. Our GPAs are higher, our ACT scores are higher and we are very strong coming out of COVID.”
Today, Stover is married with 2 kids and thoroughly enjoying his role at Auburn.
Here’s what the school said about him in announcing his award:
Through his work with the Office of Professional and Career Development, Mike’s job is to bring the best employers to hire our graduates. But as a parent and an alumnus, we can say he is the definition of a true Auburn man who cares for each student no matter the stage of their college journey.” — Tarleton Family, Columbus, Georgia
Mike Stover relishes making an impact on young people’s lives. Whether it’s sitting down with an incoming freshman and discussing career goals or steering rising juniors and seniors toward internships and career opportunities, Harbert College’s Assistant Director of Employer Relations in the Office of Professional and Career Development arrives at Lowder Hall every day with the goal of serving as a connector between young people and their dreams.
“The most rewarding aspect of my job is when a student is very excited because they get a job or an internship offer from a company that was referred to them by me,” said Stover, who works with companies across all industries to increase the quality and quantity of job and internship opportunities for Harbert College students. “Maybe the student previously hadn’t heard of the company and I was able to facilitate an introduction, then that results in something that's going to make a real impact on their career trajectory.”
A natural networker, Stover’s work with students and the college’s industry partners has resulted in countless opportunities that kick-start graduating seniors on a successful career path. For his dedication to his role, and simply caring about each and every student and their families, Stover was recently recognized by Auburn University’s Parent and Family Association with the annual Faculty and Staff Award.
Established in 2017, this award recognizes outstanding faculty and staff who have had a positive impact on Auburn students or their families. According to the Auburn University Parent and Family Association, “These recipients have both demonstrated the heart of what it means to be an Auburn person as well as encouraged it in others.”
“Mike Stover is an Auburn man,” wrote the Tarleton Family, of Columbus, Georgia, in a nomination letter. “He loves Auburn. He loves the Harbert College of Business. He loves one thing more than Auburn, and that is helping Auburn students. We found this out when our daughter, Mattie Alan, now a sophomore, came for her official visit. He took a genuine interest in Mattie, who knew she wanted to go into business, but was unsure of the exact paths available. By asking her a series of strategic questions, he was able to help guide her into looking at the possibility of a double major. After spending an hour talking with Mattie that day, we left knowing that she was making the right decision based on their conversation.”
Stover said it’s important for students to have an ally who can serve as a conduit between college and career.
“The most rewarding thing is being able to help someone and a then couple of years later they call and say, ‘Hey, I got promoted and my company wants to hire more Auburn graduates,’” Stover said. “I don’t get people jobs, they do that themselves because we have such outstanding students. But If I can make an introduction, they can win that job and ultimately succeed and represent the college well. There's a little piece of that that I helped with, and that's the best.”