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UAS linking graduates with paychecks

Programs featuring real-world learning help make transition

Posted: Monday, May 29, 2006

There are a lot of new job seekers out there.

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This year the University of Alaska Southeast awarded about 370 degrees throughout the region and nearly 300 at the Auke Lake Campus. Nationwide, 1 million left their campuses for the work force or graduate school this year.

Finding a job is no cake walk, but can be made easier if one is already connected with an organization before graduation. UAS administrators advise against procrastination.

"Our entire system is set to facilitate the move from college to working," UAS spokesman Kevin Myers said. "We have many programs which require field work and undergraduate research."

The emphasis on field work results in many students "sliding over" into an organization like the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, or the Department of Environmental Conservation, Myers said.

This wisdom bodes well for some. Recent graduate Moana Leirer is working at the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. At least part of her work is supervising the cruise ship emission monitoring project. And Dominic Shallies used his experience with the Eaglecrest Ski Area snowpack monitoring station to get a job with the Hoefler Consulting Group, where he works on monitoring meteorological and air quality parameters across the state.

"I really had the job before I graduated," Shallies said. "I was ready - UAS has great research projects and professors who work with students one-on-one."

After graduating this year, Shallies married another graduate, Valeriya, who moved with him to Anchorage after their marriage in Juneau. Valeriya now works for a business purchasing firm called Alaska Supply Chain Integrators.

The list continues. Melinda Hernandez works as an anthropologist for the U.S. Forest Service. Katherine "Katie" Chapman is investigating child abuse cases for Alaska Human Services. Mathew Brock is a subsistence resource specialist for Fish and Game.

Then there are the free spirits. Kirsten Longmeier chose the road less traveled. That is, "out the road" at Lena Point. Although UAS is a great place to learn, the smaller college did not provide enough majors, said Kirsten Longmeier, a painter with a hippie-like aura who is watching over a friend's house at the point. She is transferring to Portland State University's International Studies Department in September.

"I wished they had more study areas here," Longmeier. "I just need more options."

The 20-year-old Washington native completed her sophomore year at UAS this after taking predominantly anthropology classes during her 3 1/2-year stay. She is working at the Jade Shop downtown this summer, where tourists ply the store for a pieces of the dark green semiprecious stone.

Some people have laughed at Longmeier's dream job, which she cannot understand, she said.

"I was surprised, because I said I wanted to work with a world peace humanitarian organization." Longmeier said. "My dream job would be to become a manager with Amnesty International, or Habitat for Humanity."

For now Longmeier will live dreamy days at Lena Point, where she paints intermittently during her days of house-sits for friends. She will leave in September, albeit reluctantly, from this gorgeous place, she said.

Before they leave campus students are given help with employment opportunities, intern- ships, career and interest assessments, resume writing, interviewing skills and cover letters, said Steve Liang, UAS career services specialist. He helps bridge the gap between college and careers with cover letter and resume presentations, among many other recommendations, he said.

"We provide guidance and help match students with certain occupations," Liang said. "We also assist with job search and planning."

There was a career dress-for-success fashion show a while back, Liang said.

• Jason Steele can be reached at jason.steele@juneauempire.com.



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