MPACE Member Spotlight - August 2015
An Interview with Laurie Fisher, Director of Career Services
University of Montana
Nestled in the heart of western Montana’s stunning natural landscape, the University of Montana is a place where top-tier students, educators and researchers from across the country and around the globe come and thrive. Roughly 15,000 students attend UM, taking coursework on the Mountain and Missoula College campuses, where they receive a world-class education in a broad range of subjects that include the trades, liberal arts, graduate and postdoctoral study and professional training.
MPACE: This month’s MPACE communications theme is “Fall into Fall”, focusing on best practices for the upcoming fall semester and recruitment season. What is one new program or activity you have planned for Career Services this coming semester?
Laurie: As an entire University, we’ve struggled to create activity and connections for students on our West Missoula College campus, which houses all of our Industrial Technology Programs. This fall, we really want to boost employer activity with those students, so for the very first time we plan to offer a West Campus Industrial Technology Career Fair. One of the challenges with the Industrial Technology programs is that many entail being out in the field for coursework, so students are often not on campus. We’re trying to determine days and times in advance so faculty can plan ahead to allow students to attend. We are also surveying faculty and talking to the Dean to get buy-in. We’re really excited about this Fair and it will be fun to see how it all goes. We’ve got some good buzz around this, and the program directors are really excited because this will be a first-time event.
M: The fall is an exciting time on college campuses—in what ways does UMT encourage new college freshmen to prioritize career and professional planning among everything else on their mind with a new semester?
L: We do a lot of programming with new students. We collaborate with many departments on campus, and customize our programming to meet the needs of each individual department... We have kick-off events with many programs. For example, we have a new student athlete program in which we bring first-year student athletes into our Resource Library and provide a brief overview of what we do, stressing the importance of experiential activities and not getting too siloed within athletics. Then we assist them in populating their accounts in Griz-eRecruiting, our online recruitment system so they have access to jobs, internships, research, and volunteer opportunities right away.
We participate in a transition program hosted by Disability Services in late summer for local prospective high school students with disabilities, so that the students coming in already have an idea of the range of student support services available at UM, including Career Services.
We’re also a part of a series of kick-off events for our School of Business Administration, which is one of our largest colleges. The School of Business offers a series of career development events, but they don’t work individually with students—so we make sure students know that the College gives them access to these events, and that Career Services can help them prepare to attend.
Finally, another huge program we have—one of our biggest events, actually—is our Student Employment Fair in the first week of every fall semester. We find this is a great way to encourage students to update their resumes at the beginning of their college career and start gathering up experience right off the bat.
M: With the recruitment season soon upon us, what is one piece of advice you would give to a new corporate recruiter at career fairs?
L: It is important for recruiters to engage with the students. We’ll sometimes see recruiters sitting behind a table on a laptop, and then complain that they don’t see many students. If you’re engaging, students will come talk to you; if you’re not, they won’t. Another thing we encourage employers to do is to consider offering internships. It’s a great way to get student buzz going about their organization—what the culture is, and if it’s a good place to be employed.
M: What job-seeking advice you would give to an about-to-graduate college student?
L: Our mantra is RESEARCH. Research what you’re going into. Research what’s available. If you know you’re relocating, research the area where you’ll be moving. Research organizations to find a good fit for you, and the expectations for the industry you’re going into.
Another thing I tell all students is to network. Tell everyone that you’re looking for a job regardless of what your connection to them i.e. friends, family, professors, etc. Missoula, probably more than a lot of places, is one where oftentimes jobs aren’t posted and hiring happens under the radar. Students can’t just rely on looking at job boards to know what’s out there.
Last, just try different approaches. If you’re submitting and submitting, but just not getting interviews, change something up!
M: As we approach the busy school year and recruiting season, it’s important to take time to recharge—what are your favorite things to do during your downtime to reenergize from your busy schedule?
L: Oh, there is so much to do in this area, especially this time of year. My significant other is a huge fisherman, so we like to get out on the river and fish. And if I’m not fishing, I just enjoy nature. We spend time with my family at Flathead Lake, and we always try to make it up to Glacier National Park about once a year. I also like to garden, hike, and spend time with our dogs. There’s just so much to do and we try to take advantage of all that Montana has to offer.
Laurie Fisher is the Director of Career Services at the University of Montana. She can be reached at email@example.com. You can also find her at https://www.linkedin.com/pub/laurie-fisher/2b/970/8ab
This Spotlight article was compiled by Eric Bloomquist of the MPACE Communications Committee. Eric is a Career Coach at the University of Utah.