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Chemeketa’s Career Center helps students find work

Adam Mennig (left), Chemeketa/s career services coordinator, assists Linda Sutton with a cover letter for a job with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Adam Mennig (left), Chemeketa/s career services coordinator, assists Linda Sutton with a cover letter for a job with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

By B.F. Kimball Photo by Brad Bakke

Day in and day out, students weave in and out of the Chemeketa Career Center.

While the office is quiet, it’s a rare moment when no students sit at the tables spaced around the wide room nor clack away at computers.

Taking up the left half of the Information Center, the advisers dedicate themselves to the simple task of helping student and graduates find a suitable career.

From assisting students with resumes to preparing them for job interviews, the goal is not only to ease the process of job hunting but to ensure a greater success rate.

Adam Mennig, one of the main advisers and coordinators, puts it simply.

“We offer services from … helping with resumes to cover-letters,” he says.

While the career center’s advising team is small, numbering about a four full-time advisers, the staff at the center, established in 2011, is dedicated to serving the diverse population of students and graduates.

Adviser Kip Carlson’s office occupies a quiet corner of the center. The cubicle is intimate and easy to miss. The walls are papered with comic strips and postcards. A glowing monitor takes up the bulk of the tight yet efficient space.

With glasses perched on the end of his nose, Carlson seems at ease in his office.

Working as a career adviser seems a far cry from his former life as a sports writer, where he once wrote for the Corvallis Gazette-Times and the Roseburg News-Review.

He leans back in his swivel chair as he talks.

“I wanted to go back and become a teacher. So I got my master’s at Willamette University for teaching language arts and social studies,” he says. “I loved doing that – love doing this. I also teach GED language arts two nights a week.”

Why Chemeketa?

He shrugs. “I figured, ‘Let’s try something new,’ ” he says.

That he and fellow adviser Mennig are fond of their positions is something that both men make clear.

Mennig, a head adviser and coordinator of a grant program, keeps busy. His office, nestled down a hallway, is covered with memos and papers, a testament to the many roles he plays each day in the Career Center.

Students bustle in and out. Down the hall, a meeting buzzes in the next room.

Mennig, who has just returned from a lunch break, has appointments scheduled for the rest of the afternoon.

“There’s never a dull moment,” he says with a laugh.

Mennig is an affable man, a former Iowa native and high school teacher.

What attracted him to Chemeketa?

“It was the diversity of the campus – seemed like an awesome place to work,” he says.

The issue of diversity comes up frequently in the Career Center. Students arrive here from all walks of life, and their needs often differ drastically.

“We see homeless students, students with English as a second language,” Mennig says.

“I had a student [who] had an awesome amount of experience in his home country. He was applying to UO. But he spoke English as a second language. He didn’t think he’d be employable because he was worried that language skills would be a barrier. So I helped him package his skill set. He came back later – he’d got the job.”

He pauses, considering the moment. “Students matter; people matter,” he says. “Helping them see their value is an awesome job.”

Carlson explains the trick that he and the other advisers keep in mind when dealing with a diverse population.

“Try and help them as best as possible,” he says.

The number of students who have been able to find jobs as a result is a task both daunting and difficult to track.

Carlson says that the advisers in the center sometimes hear about students who find jobs, “but I’m pretty sure there’s more.”

Still, the efforts are worth it.

“We can’t guarantee you’ll get a job,” Carlson says. “But we can certainly help you improve the odds.”

Mennig says, “It’s all about the people – seeing the light bulb go off. They realize, ‘I have value. I’ve done great.’

“People grow. Students matter. People matter. Helping them see their value … it’s an awesome job.”

The Career Center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in Bldg. 2-115 and at the Yamhill campus. While appointments are advisable, walk-ins are accepted.

More information can be found by visiting the Career Center or by calling 503-399-5026.

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