Exploring, Developing, and Announcing Career Opportunities at the University of Montana Western and Beyond by Laurie Koepplin

June 16, 2023
Laurie is an AmeriCorps College Coach serving at the University of Montana Western.

As I read other members’ blogs, it occurs to me that my experience in AmeriCorps looks different than theirs. Principally, I’m close to home in Dillon, Montana. Furthermore, I began this term in April because the position was initially unfilled in the fall. Finally, I stayed in education, my field of interest. I enjoy mentoring, advising, and coaching students.

I relate to Matt Sjogren’s blog about focusing on the process and not an end goal. Some see success as an end product, i.e., “graduation is success.” I don’t see it that way. If a person sets goals and completes steps he/she will achieve success. So I see success when a student completes each block and passes one course at a time. UMW is unique in that students take one course at a time. There are four courses in each semester.

Career Services has become the focus of my service. It has been underutilized and under-developed in the past, but now UMW has a new Director of its Academic Resource and Career Center. Our primary initiative is building relationships with businesses in our community. After conducting a SWOT analysis, we have decided to walk the town of Dillon, visiting the different businesses, introducing ourselves, and explaining our vision of connecting college student employees to local job openings. We will offer the employers a place to post jobs for free both in a physical space and online.

Our next area of interest is gathering information about internship opportunities in our state and region. Since UMW has an experiential focus, I will be exploring ways to connect scholars to internships. UMW has a large education program and those field experience opportunities are managed by staff in the Education Department. We also want to partner with faculty in other areas like Environmental Science and Biology. The Forest Service, BLM, and DNRC all have offices in Dillon. Business and Technology is another department that has been developing internships and may be open to collaboration.

Another focus for Career Services is helping our graduates successfully find full-time employment. We will be inviting employers to host hiring events and may have a career fair on campus next year. Our goal is to collect data to demonstrate that UMW graduates are able to gain employment in their chosen field.

Laurie mentored these four 2023 graduates of UM Western through her service.