Welcome to MCEEA’s Faces on Campus campaign!
Over the next year – we will be highlighting the career educators and employers who make up our great organization. Each week we will pay tribute to the individuals who devote their lives to helping students take that key first step into their professional career and the employers who welcome and develop them into the professionals they will become.
We hope you enjoy the insights, stories, and laughs of the people of MCEEA.
This week brings us to Oakland University (https://oakland.edu/), a public research university in Rochester Hills, Michigan. It is the second largest university in the Detroit Metropolitan Area with 20,012 students.
Our interviewee is Carol Anne Ketelsen - a Career Consultant in the Career Service Office. Carol Anne has been at Oakland for 26 years.
Joe Bamberger - Do you have a favorite part of your job?
Carol Anne Ketelsen - I love my job. I like the diversity of my job because I have the opportunity to work with students, employers, and the faculty. I do workshops, work with students one on one, pre-COVID I put on events, visit companies to see where our students would work and promote our students to employers. I love that it makes a difference to the students. It's helping them with that first career step. Some students don't have a network or know how to work the system. I like being able to help them figure out what their steps should be along the way.
JB - Over your years at Oakland, have you been in the same role, or have you jumped around a little bit?
CAK - I have always been under the Career Service umbrella. When I started, I was working with numerous grant programs throughout Oakland County which hired interns for a year. I worked with the employers to recruitment qualified students for their positions, conducted the onboarding and oversaw payroll for over 150 students. I had been hired to help with an AmeriCorps program. Oakland was one of the first nine agencies in Michigan to obtain an AmeriCorps grant. I ended up managing that program. Oakland had the AmeriCorps program for 10 years and through that program, we put through about 400 students. We had 40 students a year over that 10 years, some were repeats who did two years, but about 400 students. That was wonderful. When we ended that program in 2005, then I moved to this Career Service role as a career consultant working directly with the students, faculty, and employers. Through Career Services, I was doing all of our events at one time. Thankfully, that was short-lived, because doing that along with working with students was a lot. I love the event planning and it was great, but you really can't do both together and do them both well.
JB - When you look at the events that you helped plan or have been a part of or encourage students to attend, do you have a favorite event that the school offers?
CAK - I work with two different schools, the School of Nursing and the College of Arts and Sciences. They're two very different mindsets and populations. With the nursing students, they're pretty clear on their career path. They will all get jobs. The question is where and will they get the job that they want? For them, it's getting them prepared and polished. For my art and science students, they don't always have a direct path. For the Arts and Sciences, we offer a variety of programs and events to help them understand all of their opportunities. We conduct employer panels discussing "careers in" certain industries or fields for Arts and Science. We have done a careers in social media marketing, careers in automotive, careers in health care for liberal arts. For these types of events we typically have four or five employers, preferably alumni, so the students can see what they can do with their major and potential career paths to get there. The "careers in" series are beneficial to the students to help them have a better understanding of all their options and opportunities since their degree doesn't define what they're going to be doing.
JB - You mentioned working with nursing, and I'm sure that's very easy to find healthcare jobs, especially right now. When you talk about arts and sciences, is there a particular major that you find that you struggle with the most in connection with career opportunities?
CAK – One area we do not see many opportunities for are the hard arts, such as drawing and painting along with music, theatre and dance. Those students primarily work with their department for internships, career related experiences and jobs. Currently at Oakland, our students in many of the liberal arts areas are seeing a lot of opportunities right now. One of the things with arts and science students we spend a lot of time doing is helping them figure out what they are going to do with their major. We use a tool that is actually from the University of Tennessee, and we've paid their subscription fee for this. It's a phenomenal tool on what to do with your major. For Arts and Science, I use their resource with almost every student. The way UT has the tool laid out is really nice so the student can see their degree and all the possibilities and opportunities they have in addition to strategies to get their foot in the door and needed experience. Additionally, it helps the student gather ideas of potential minors that will make them more marketable. It’s always very fulfilling to help the student understand that and see them have that a-ha moment. I never tell a student their degree choice isn't a good degree, because I don't think that there are any bad degrees. It's just helping them to understand what they are doing during their college career to market themselves. It's challenging for the students who come and see us in February or March for the first time and they graduate in April. If they haven't had any related experience, they didn't do any internships, all they've done straight through is classes, and it’s a challenge to help them get that first degree related position.
JB - If I'm an employer that doesn't currently have a relationship with the school, why should I consider Grizzlies? What makes them unique? What helps your students stand out?
CAK – Employers should consider OU Grizzlies because our students are hard workers! Since we are primarily a commuter college, our students are full-time students and working at least one part-time job. Many of our students initially come to Oakland because they don't have the money to go away to school. If they're doing an internship, they're doing an internship and working in addition to school. OU students have a strong work ethic, the ability to manage multiple priorities and utilize their time management skills. Another reason to select a Golden Grizzly is our research shows that over 95% of our students stay living in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb County after graduation. What this means for employers is our students can transition into a full time opportunity after their internship and graduation. You do not have to retrain another student for your position.
When it comes to employing a Golden Grizzly, they understand the value of that education. They've worked really hard to get it and they've worked, not only academically, but through a job or an internship
JB - When you look at your day-to-day, do you have a part that you like least or find the most challenging?
CAK – A challenging part of my day is when I have an alum who never used career services as a student. It always makes me wonder what we should have done differently to reach this student before they graduated. It saddens me to think of the events and career education opportunities they missed. The alumni who have never used our services tend to be behind with their career activities. By the time we see them they are frustrated because they have tried to go it alone. On the flip side, it is exciting to help these alumni find their way; to get their professional documents together and figure out how to obtain their first professional position.
JB - When you look at your demographic and population of students specifically, do you find that there's something that they struggle with the most when it comes to career readiness? Whether it's generationally or just your students in general.
CAK – As I mentioned, OU students usually work in addition to going to school. They're working at a restaurant or retail, and they're being told you have to do an internship. If that internship is an unpaid, they're trying to weigh how do they continue to pay for school? Fortunately, we are seeing many more paid opportunities and our faculty is outstanding, and look at ways to work with the students. Talking to colleagues at other schools, their students might not work, they might not have to work.
JB - How long have you been involved with MCEEA?
CAK - I got involved in MCEEA when the organization formed. Originally, I was part of both organizations since I worked with internships and full time employment. Through the years I've been involved in a variety of ways both minor leadership roles and attending workshops, meetings, holiday gatherings and conventions. Years ago, when Anne Post was MCEEA president, I was a member at large. I've helped out with convention planning including the convention on Mackinaw Island. Through MCEEA I've met some great people over the years. The nice thing is being able to reach out to colleagues at various schools and ask them "how are you doing this? Do you do this? If you do, what can you share?" Everybody is always very willing to share and to help out. As a brand new career professional, this was very helpful. It was interesting because I was involved with the two groups right away when I started at Oakland in 1995. Then I got involved with AmeriCorps at Oakland, so I wasn't involved at all for about 11 years, and then got involved again. I've enjoyed MCEEA over the years. A lot of the people who were involved when I started have now retired, so now it is time to meet different group of folks.
JB - If the organization had unlimited time and funding, what sort of additions to programming or areas of focus would you like MCEEA to focus on?
CAK – Now that we are on the other side of COVID, I would love to see more social events for members, old and new to get together. Additionally, regional workshops and trainings throughout the year. Years ago I was a regional representative and we had offered many regional workshops. One that we offered was on customer service, we had a representative from Zingerman's in Ann Arbor. They came and talked talk on quality customer service, and drew a large crowd because they're so well known. I haven't seen those in a while. That's not to say that they're not being done, and I just haven't paid attention. I think MCEEA does a great job. Their conferences are always well organized with a good variety of speakers. They are a great mix of learning, networking and fun.
JB - Any final thoughts or shameless plugs you'd like to make?
CAK – I am blessed to work in Career Services, I love my job and assisting the students on their career path. I have to put in a plug for Oakland University and hiring Golden Grizzlies. For employers, you should recruit and hire our students! We have great students, we prepare them very well, trying to make sure their resume is wonderful before the career fair and we've done all kinds of prep sessions. Our goal is to have the best prepared students. If you don’t currently recruit at OU you should!
Faces on Campus is a weekly interview series highlighting members of MCEEA conducted by Joe Bamberger of Emerge Consulting. Be sure to follow MCEEA on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and MCEEA.org
Connect with Carol Anne on LinkedIn