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Midland University Career Studio Utilizing Student Coaches

Midland University Career Studio Utilizing Student Coaches

Feb 3rd , 2020

The peer-to-peer coaching model at Midland University’s Career Studio is giving students the opportunity to give and receive guidance when it comes to career planning. The new concept is a student-driven program that allows for student coaches to assist other students in navigating a career course.

Baylee Snyder, a senior Business Administration and Marketing major, and Chaleigh Mattson, a junior Education major, are serving as the program’s inaugural coaches through a work study program. They each dedicate seven hours per week steering fellow students through the career path of their choosing. This can involve anything from creating or updating a résumé to helping students find internships. Snyder and Mattson are joined by four intern coaches for the spring semester. Chelsea Bayer, Cailin Brashear, Delaney Brewer, and Matthew Wickwire went through an in-depth training process during Interterm at Midland, giving them expertise and preparing them to provide further assistance to students. The vision of the Career Studio is to have at least one coach available to students throughout the week.

“The students who come in here really enjoy it,” Mattson said. “I think it feels more comfortable for them.”

Providing students with guidance from one of their peers is the cornerstone of the program. Snyder said the common bond that exists among students has helped both the coaches, and the students seeking help, feel at ease with the program. “It’s exciting to see something that’s more student-based,” she said. “It’s almost more of a discussion when they come in. We talk about school, we bond over the day-to-day things we go through. Our lives are parallel with theirs.”

Both Snyder and Mattson have taken advantage of the benefits of the Career Studio during their time at Midland. When Executive Director Connie Kreikemeier approached them about becoming coaches, it seemed like a perfect fit. “When this opportunity came up, I knew this was exactly what I wanted to do,” Snyder said. “Starting my freshman year, I would stop in and visit with Connie and she always helped and had me feeling excited about where my college career was headed. I became a coach because I want to help other students find out what they want to do and help them see the impact they can make.”

Giving friends and classmates career advice does offer some challenges, but Mattson said the coaches have begun to feel at ease with each student that comes through their doors. “I was so nervous at first,” Mattson said. “The first few students that came in, Baylee and I worked together, so we could build off each other. And we had Connie and (Career Advisor) Lisa (Lias) listening in, so that helped. I’m a Resident Assistant at Beegle Hall and there were students who would come into the Career Studio that I would recognize from Beegle, so you’re building that relationship with students.”

It’s a unique ability for students to serve as coaches to their peers. Snyder believes the personalities of herself, and Mattson, lend themselves to being successful in both making students feel at ease, and offering advice for a potential career. “I feel like we are outgoing and want to make people feel comfortable,” Snyder said. “It’s easy for us to connect with students, even if we don’t know them. We want to see them succeed and take steps toward their goals. I feel like we can help them. Connie and Lisa have poured knowledge into us and they’re here for support, but they do a very good job of being hands-off and letting us coach. It’s been very beneficial for all of us.”

The Career Studio is available to all students and Mattson believes the sooner they can get in the door and get to work, their path to success will become much more clear. “We want them to get here early,” she said. “Starting your résumé as a freshman is a good idea, and we want you to keep adding to it with more jobs and internships. Then, by your senior year, it’s really good. I think some students think they don’t have to worry about it until their senior year when they start looking for a job. We want to push them to get here earlier.”

Along with helping their peers connect with careers, coaches are seeing their own prospects boosted by serving as mentors. “I could see myself moving into a career search position, or be a recruiter at a bigger company,” Snyder said. “This is good experience for me. I’ve had internships, but not in recruiting or job searches, so it’s good for me to see that part of it and develop skills in that area. It’s allowed me to have more professional growth.”

 Mattson added that being a coach has afforded her opportunities to hone her skills as a future educator. “I’m building relationships, increasing my communication skills, and building community, which is beneficial for what I’m going into,” she said. “When you think of a work study job, you think of doing everything behind the scenes. But I think we have the best work study job on campus because we get to be interactive.”

As the coaching staff continues to grow, Snyder is hopeful the program can expand to assist more students across campus. “I know students are busy and time is a factor, but I wish more would come here,” Snyder said. “It’s always been utilized, but the culture here has changed. Connie has done a great job educating teachers about all the resources we have. We’re always trying to get more students here and I think with more coaches available next semester, we’ll be able to continue to build on those connections. I really think it’s important for them to get to the Career Studio. What we offer here is priceless and I don’t want students to forget how important we are.”

Here are profiles of the four career coach interns:

Matthew Wickwire - Matthew is a junior Human Services major. He got a taste for career coaching last summer when he was a leader in the Career Explorations group at Boys Town. In that role, he helped high school students prepare resumes, went over interview skills, and helped guide those students to find jobs and colleges. “When Connie (Kreikemeier) and Lisa (Lias) reached out to me about becoming a career coach, I knew this was right up my alley,” Matthew said. 

Matthew embraces the interview process and believes he can convince other students to feel the same way. “I love going into interviews and I want to share skills and tips that I know with other students,” he said. “I can help students build their résumé. When it comes to résumés, that is your ‘profile picture’ to a company. I want to make sure every student that comes through the Career Studio is wanted by other companies.”

Cailin Brashear - Cailin is a sophomore Business Management and Marketing major. Her passion to help others is what led her to become a career coach. “I want to help my peers develop their strengths and chase their dreams,” she said. “I want to share the empowering experience I’ve had in the Career Studio with other students and play a role in their journey.”

Brashear believes there are numerous advantages the Career Studio can provide to students as they search for their own career choice. “I’m excited to help students understand and apply their strengths to their current and future careers,” Brashear said. “By working one-on-one with students, we will be able to help them explore new possibilities in their professional lives and help them prepare for those jobs.”

Delaney Brewer - Delaney is a senior Human Services major. Her desire to help others led her down the path to becoming a coach. “I have a passion for helping people and this is a perfect way to help students on Midland’s campus,” she said.

Delaney sees a multitude of ways she can help a student realize their vision when they enter the Career Studio. “I can assist students in résumé building, cover letters, finding internships/jobs, and learning about their strengths,” Delaney said.

Chelsea Bayer - Chelsea is a junior Communications Studies major. She relies heavily on what she has learned over the years about career planning and wants to pass that onto others. “Career coaching allows me to take all of my knowledge and experiences and make a real impact,” Bayer said. “If someone can improve one area of their life, they start to feel more balanced as a whole. I’m focused on helping others gain that confidence.” 

She is confident that experience will help her in guiding other students down the right career path for them. “I’m focused on helping others gain clarity on the direction they want to go,” she said. “People will benefit from seeing me at various stages of their careers. That includes finding available jobs and internships, developing a perfect résumé, building confidence for interviews, and discovering their strengths and weaknesses.