Experience Through Internships – Guest Post by Courtney

This guest post is by Courtney Prach, our Spring 2015 Graphic Design intern. Just like Courtney, you can find internship opportunities on or off campus to expand your experience and try something new. Not only can you gain a new network and possible references, but you can develop new skills, earn academic credit, and make yourself a better job candidate.

I’m Courtney Prach and I am a recent graduate of Northern Arizona University with a BFA in Visual Communications, emphasis in Graphic Design and a minor in Advertising. I hope to apply my skills towards a career in print design, either pursuing my passion for advertising or working within the creative marketing field.

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I have been working together with the NAU Career Development team this past semester to develop a variety of marketing materials. I have created promotional materials for 4 Career/Job Fairs, as well as designed the Jobs for Jacks banner,the 2015-2016 Career Resource Guide, and a rack card and business card for the team. For each design, I was responsible for establishing a number of mock-ups for review. They would then decide which of the mock-ups they wanted me to continue with and I would revise the pieces, often numerous times, to satisfy everyone’s vision. The result was a wide range of materials for the team to use now and in the future.

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This was my first experience in dealing with branding restrictions set by a marketing team, in my case NAU Marketing. I felt very challenged at times developing ideas, since I was limited in the color palates and typefaces I was allowed to use. Many of the projects I worked on required me to budget my time effectively to meet deadlines. Thus, I learned to make decisions independently about the overall design of pieces while still including feedback. There were times throughout my process that required me to incorporating feedback from up to 3 diverse perspectives, which was difficult to balance. I received a lot of criticism from the team, some of which I did not necessarily agree with, but I overcame the challenge by prioritizing the elements that were most important within my designs. Reflecting upon this experience, I know that overcoming these obstacles has helped me become a better problem-solver within the design field.

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In closing, I want to say thank you to the members of the NAU Career Development team for this invaluable experience and helping me to develop some truly amazing pieces that I will be able to showcase in my personal portfolio. It has truly been an honor to work with all of you.

courtneyprach

 

Emily Honors our Outstanding Grads

selfieIt’s the end of another year, and today and tomorrow a few thousand NAU grads will start the next chapter in their lives. For NAU Career Development, this weekend is bittersweet, as we are “losing” four of own: three of our CareerJack Peer Mentors Carissa, Erika, and Katie, and our Graduate Assistant Derrin. There has been a lot of celebrating, emotion, and goodbyes over the last week, and they’re probably all ready to move on. But before that happens, I’d like to squeeze in one final (and very public) thank you and farewell.

Carissa and Erika were our two original CareerJacks, and have been on the team longer than anyone, including me and the rest of the full time staff. They’ve weathered mission changes, staff changes, and expansion of their roles, all with smiles, positivity, and enthusiasm for taking on more. They’ve been through an office move to our fantastic new space, and have been integral in helping us build a team identify and establishing Career Development as a robust program at NAU.group frames

Carissa started this blog, which has now had over 30K (yes, thousand) views worldwide! Not a bad accomplishment! She’s run our social media campaigns for three years, making us “older folks” on the team more social media savvy. When we were woefully short staffed last summer, she graciously stepped up to be our first Lead CareerJack, helping me manage the team. She always knows what needs to get done before I can think of it. I’m excited for her research opportunity in New Zealand this summer and the beginning of her graduate studies at NAU next fall.all career jack

Erika was the team’s subject matter expert on Jobs for Jacks, our online recruiting system. If you’ve used Jobs for Jacks, you’ll know that this takes intuition, patience, persistence, great customer service skills, and the ability to laugh when you really just want to cry. As a member of our Employer Relationship Management team, she has interacted with countless individuals, convincing them to recruit our students despite our quirky recruiting system. She played a major role in organizing last fall’s Part Time Job Fair, which over 1400 students attended. If you’ve emailed career@nau.edu, she was likely the one who answered your email, or helped someone formulate their response. It’s been fun to watch her discover her love for international travel over the past two years and I look forward to seeing what direction her career will take her in.KB 3 Collage

Katie joined Career Development 2 ½ years ago, and often balanced her responsibilities here with a second job or internship. This year, she interned at a local organization working with families in crisis. They were so impressed by her that she’ll be working there upon graduation. She’ll also spend a portion of her summer living amongst and serving poor families in Mexico. Katie has already had, and will continue to have, an impact on the world. I will miss her attention to detail. She’s been our official team editor, up until her last hours working here yesterday. She played a big role in planning our first two annual Careers with Impact events and I hope she’ll come back next year as a panelist! She also did much of the heavy lifting behind our ever-growing website.

Derrin joined us last August, and quickly became a valued member of our team. He graciously navigated being on a team with 10 women, including letting us decorate his cube in tacky wedding décor to celebrate his engagement last November. Derrin flourished working one-on-one with students and received a lot of fantastic feedback from them after he helped them hone their resume writing and interview skills. Personally, I enjoyed the fact that Derrin, like me, is a hard core NFL (that’s professional football for the unfamiliar) fan who also appreciates the personal stories behind the players and coaches. I’ll miss our regular debriefs and have my fingers crossed that Derrin will find his dream job working with student athletes.

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I’d originally planned to include copious amounts of advice in this post, but I took up too much space bragging about the awesomeness of these four. So I’ll keep it brief: Dream big, and don’t listen to those who tell you not to. Follow your heart, but make smart decisions. Cherish your family, sadly they won’t be with you forever. Collect friends, you can never have too many. Listen to your intuition, as it’s often your best source of information. Celebrate the successes, and remember how much you learn from the setbacks. Live each day to the fullest, laugh, love, and have fun. And never, ever, use an objective statement on your resume.

You have all been a huge part of my journey. I love and will miss each of you.

Emilygroup hug

#30FacesOfApril

Check out our fourth and final batch of faces for #30FacesOfApril, a project where we will be featuring 30 NAU students and their college experiences.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? "I see myself doing freelance for NFL network because I want to do TV broadcasting for sports. I love sports, it's in my major, and I love technology." -Aaron, Senior, Electronic Media and Film

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
“I see myself doing freelance for NFL network because I want to do TV broadcasting for sports. I love sports, it’s in my major, and I love technology.” -Aaron, Senior, Electronic Media and Film

If you could give incoming freshman advice, what would it be?  “Stay organized. Write down your assignments for the week and stay on top of it.” –John, Freshman, Creative Media and Film

If you could give incoming freshman advice, what would it be?
“Stay organized. Write down your assignments for the week and stay on top of it.” –John, Freshman, Creative Media and Film

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why? "I wanted to be a dentist more than anything. I'm crazy about cleaning. I was so set on being a dentist that my mom bought me braces because dentists have to have nice teeth." -Ashley, Senior, Public Relations and Advertising

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why? “I wanted to be a dentist more than anything. I’m crazy about cleaning. I was so set on being a dentist that my mom bought me braces because dentists have to have nice teeth.” -Ashley, Senior, Public Relations and Advertising

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? "A teacher, I wanted to be a teacher." -Dr. Cheng, NAU President

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
“A teacher, I wanted to be a teacher.” -Dr. Cheng, NAU President

How have your career plans changed throughout college?  "Coming into college I was undeclared and didn't know what to do. After taking a couple of classes I found out what I truly wanted to do! I fit right in with the people in the School of Communication so I decided to major in Public Relations and minor in Advertising! I fell in love with the program and couldn't see myself anywhere else!" -Turner, Junior, Public Relations

How have your career plans changed throughout college?
“Coming into college I was undeclared and didn’t know what to do. After taking a couple of classes I found out what I truly wanted to do! I fit right in with the people in the School of Communication so I decided to major in Public Relations and minor in Advertising! I fell in love with the program and couldn’t see myself anywhere else!” -Turner, Junior, Public Relations

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why? "When I was younger I wanted to be a dog trainer because I had a puppy that I grew up with and he was my best friend. I just figured what could be better than being around dogs all day? Plus it was the closest thing I could think of that was somewhat similar to a Pokémon trainer." -April, Sophomore, Criminology and Criminal Justice

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why?
“When I was younger I wanted to be a dog trainer because I had a puppy that I grew up with and he was my best friend. I just figured what could be better than being around dogs all day? Plus it was the closest thing I could think of that was somewhat similar to a Pokémon trainer.” -April, Sophomore, Criminology and Criminal Justice

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why? “I wanted to be an astronaut. I had a deep fascination with space.” –William, Freshman, Parks and Recreation Management

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why?
“I wanted to be an astronaut. I had a deep fascination with space.” –William, Freshman, Parks and Recreation Management

#30FacesOfApril

Check out our third batch of faces for #30FacesOfApril, a project where we will be featuring 30 NAU students and their college experiences

If you could give your freshman-self advice, what would it be? "Don't be afraid to reach out and network with people because so many doors open when you do that." -Herbie, Senior, Computer Science

If you could give your freshman-self advice, what would it be?
“Don’t be afraid to reach out and network with people because so many doors open when you do that.” -Herbie, Senior, Computer Science

How have your career plans changed throughout college? “I came to college as a Psychology major, but by the end of my Freshman year I switched to Speech-Language Pathology and loved the classes.  Now that I’m a year away from graduation I plan to get my Masters and pursue either a Doctorate in Audiology or Occupational Therapy.” –Ana, Junior, Speech-Language Pathology

How have your career plans changed throughout college?
“I came to college as a Psychology major, but by the end of my Freshman year I switched to Speech-Language Pathology and loved the classes. Now that I’m a year away from graduation, I plan to get my Masters and pursue either a Doctorate in Audiology or Occupational Therapy.” –Ana, Junior, Speech-Language Pathology

As a child, what did you want to be when you grow up? Why?  “I wanted to be either a volcanologist or a train conductor. Both seemed awesome. Volcanologists get to see active volcanoes and train conductors get to go on rails all day and just drive. It seems calm.” –Luis, Junior, Electronic Media and Film

As a child, what did you want to be when you grow up? Why?
“I wanted to be either a volcanologist or a train conductor. Both seemed awesome. Volcanologists get to see active volcanoes and train conductors get to go on rails all day and just drive. It seems calm.” –Luis, Junior, Electronic Media and Film

As a child, what did you want to be when you grow up? Why?”  “Growing up, I wanted to be 2 things. A police officer and a marine biologist. I wanted to be a police officer because I thought that protecting people from my neighborhood was important and police officers didn’t always do that where I grew up so I wanted to be that change. I wanted to be a marine biologist because I love dolphins and I wanted to study aquatic life to help make a sustainable environment.” –Yoleidy, Assistant Director for Inclusion and Multicultural Services

As a child, what did you want to be when you grow up? Why?”
“Growing up, I wanted to be 2 things. A police officer and a marine biologist. I wanted to be a police officer because I thought that protecting people from my neighborhood was important and police officers didn’t always do that where I grew up so I wanted to be that change. I wanted to be a marine biologist because I love dolphins and I wanted to study aquatic life to help make a sustainable environment.” –Yoleidy, Assistant Director for Inclusion and Multicultural Services

What has been the most meaningful experience of college so far? “I have many. There’s the time I was homeless for an entire summer. I’m an out of state student and had to figure things out on my own. My friend Josh took me in and helped me power through. He introduced me to our interest group trying to start a fraternity, which we did. We started the first Lambda Phi Epsilon chapter in the entire state of Arizona. From the moment I was taken in, a sheer amount of possibilities opened up for me. I got to travel to New York, Florida, and California. That’s a long ways away from home as an island boy of Maui and Guam.” –Angelo, Senior, Sociology

What has been the most meaningful experience of college so far?
“I have many. There’s the time I was homeless for an entire summer. I’m an out of state student and had to figure things out on my own. My friend Josh took me in and helped me power through. He introduced me to our interest group trying to start a fraternity, which we did. We started the first Lambda Phi Epsilon chapter in the entire state of Arizona. From the moment I was taken in, a sheer amount of possibilities opened up for me. I got to travel to New York, Florida, and California. That’s a long ways away from home as an island boy of Maui and Guam.” –Angelo, Senior, Sociology

What has been the most meaningful experience of college so far? “Going to World Model United Nations with the NAU MUN team and meeting people from 117 countries around the world who are all dedicated to creating global change.” –Connor, Junior, Political Science

What has been the most meaningful experience of college so far?
“Going to World Model United Nations with the NAU MUN team and meeting people from 117 countries around the world who are all dedicated to creating global change.” –Connor, Junior, Political Science

How have your career plans changed throughout college? “At first I thought I wanted to do Physical therapy, but after doing some research and taking classes I changed to Exercise Science.” –Taylor, Freshman, Exercise Science

How have your career plans changed throughout college?
“At first I thought I wanted to do Physical therapy, but after doing some research and taking classes I changed to Exercise Science.” –Taylor, Freshman, Exercise Science

#30FacesOfApril

Check out our second batch of faces for #30FacesOfApril, a project where we will be featuring 30 NAU students and their college experiences.

If you could give your freshman-self advice, what would it be? “Don’t be afraid to step out of element and try new things. Be adventurous.” –Jamaica, Graduate Student, Education

If you could give your freshman-self advice, what would it be?
“Don’t be afraid to step out of your element and try new things. Be adventurous.” –Jamaica, Graduate Student, Education

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How have your career plans changed throughout college? “I came into college undeclared and not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. My second semester freshman year I discovered I was passionate about social work and its values and I’ve loved my career decision ever since.” –Katie, Senior, Social Work

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Where do you see yourself in 10 years? “I see myself working on the Navajo reservation helping Navajo youth.” –Erickson, Junior, Psychology

As a child, what did you want to be when you grow up? Why? “I wanted to be the female Indiana Jones because he was a BA. Then I became an Anthropology major and learned how very wrong his practices were…” –Claire, Senior, Anthropology and Art Education

As a child, what did you want to be when you grow up? Why?
“I wanted to be the female Indiana Jones because he was a BA. Then I became an Anthropology major and learned how very wrong his practices were…” –Claire, Senior, Anthropology and Art Education

How have your career plans changed throughout college? “I would say I originally wanted to be a high school teacher and be a part of the education system, but I realized my other passion is for the outdoors and if I was to be in education I needed to do that outside. So now here I am at REI, working my way up to doing outdoor education programs and outreach. One day I would really like to get into helping juveniles connect to society through nature experiences, like the work I did with Outward Bound. Working in a team of ten or so people to communicate and experience the wilderness together really helps you learn to function in the broader society.” –Justin, Junior, Hotel and Restaurant Management

How have your career plans changed throughout college?
“I would say I originally wanted to be a high school teacher and be a part of the education system, but I realized my other passion is for the outdoors and if I was to be in education I needed to do that outside. So now here I am at REI, working my way up to doing outdoor education programs and outreach. One day I would really like to get into helping juveniles connect to society through nature experiences, like the work I did with Outward Bound. Working in a team of ten or so people to communicate and experience the wilderness together really helps you learn to function in the broader society.” –Justin, Junior, Hotel and Restaurant Management

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? “I see myself working on the Navajo reservation helping Navajo youth.” –Erickson, Junior, Psychology

What has been the most meaningful experience in college so far? “I think probably getting to know my professors was a very important thing. I didn’t get to know all of them or even most of them but there were three big ones and I was in their offices all of the time. And then also working here at Canyon Vet Hospital because I’m getting to know the job and all the animals and people. You can plan for your career all you want, but you don’t really know what it will be like until you try it out and see if it’s what you want to do.” –Shauna, Senior, Biology

If you could give incoming freshman advice, what would it be? “Stay in the dorms. It’s a great way to meet new friends and it’s nice because everything is close on campus.” –Zach, Freshman, Public Health

If you could give incoming freshman advice, what would it be?
“Stay in the dorms. It’s a great way to meet new friends and it’s nice because everything is close on campus.” –Zach, Freshman, Public Health

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? “I see myself graduating, being done with all my schooling, and beginning my life career as a clinical neuropsychologist. –Lexi, Freshman, Psychology

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
“I see myself graduating, being done with all my schooling, and beginning my life career as a clinical neuropsychologist. –Lexi, Freshman, Psychology

If you could give incoming freshman advice, what would it be? “Get involved and meet new people. Talk to everyone and don’t be shy.” –William, Freshman, Hotel and Restaurant Management

If you could give incoming freshman advice, what would it be?
“Get involved and meet new people. Talk to everyone and don’t be shy.” –William, Freshman, Hotel and Restaurant Management

If you could give your freshman-self advice, what would it be? “Roll with the punches.  The most consistent fact about college is that things will always change. Embrace that, and everything is a lot easier.” –Jermaine, Junior, Psychology

If you could give your freshman-self advice, what would it be? “I wish I could have put more thought into what I wanted to do before I started! I came in with an undeclared major and had no idea where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do, so I wish I had though harder about what I really wanted to do and considered my strengths and weaknesses and gone from there.” –Kacie, Junior, Art Education

If you could give your freshman-self advice, what would it be? “Roll with the punches.  The most consistent fact about college is that things will always change. Embrace that, and everything is a lot easier.” –Jermaine, Junior, Psychology

If you could give your freshman-self advice, what would it be?
“Roll with the punches. The most consistent fact about college is that things will always change. Embrace that, and everything is a lot easier.” –Jermaine, Junior, Psychology

#30FacesOfApril

Check out our first batch of faces for #30FacesOfApril, a project where we will be featuring 30 NAU students and their college experiences.

How have your career plans changed throughout college? “My career plans have become more selfless because I’ve seen that giving back is the most important part of life.” -Alicia, Freshman, Business Management

How have your career plans changed throughout college?                                                   “My career plans have become more selfless because I’ve seen that giving back is the most important part of life.” Alicia, Freshman, Business Management

As a child, what did you want to be when you grow up? Why? “I wanted to be a marine biologist because I have always loved sea animals and the ocean. I guess I just ended up growing out of it. I would still do it though if I ever wanted a career change.” –Alex, Senior, Art Education

As a child, what did you want to be when you grow up? Why?
“I wanted to be a marine biologist because I have always loved sea animals and the ocean. I guess I just ended up growing out of it. I would still do it though if I ever wanted a career change.” –Alex, Senior, Art Education

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? "I see myself using the knowledge I've learned to provide quality care to others." –Michael, Senior, Biomedical Science

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
“I see myself using the knowledge I’ve learned to provide quality care to others.” –Michael, Senior, Biomedical Science

If you could give your freshman-self advice, what would it be? “Don’t spend all your time inside.” –Brandon, Senior, Advertising

If you could give your freshman-self advice, what would it be?
“Don’t spend all your time inside.” –Brandon, Senior, Advertising

As a child, what did you want to be when you grow up? Why? “I wanted to be an actress because…I mean I still do, I’m a theater major because I like the idea of being seen by others and inspiring them.” –Sonja, Freshman, Theater

As a child, what did you want to be when you grow up? Why?
“I wanted to be an actress because…I mean I still do, I’m a theater major because I like the idea of being seen by others and inspiring them.” –Sonja, Freshman, Theater

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? “"I see myself being a dentist in the air force and traveling the world." –Kyrell, Senior, Biomedical Science

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
“”I see myself being a dentist in the air force and traveling the world.” –Kyrell, Senior, Biomedical Science

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Putting the First Year Into Perspective By April Canseco

Every year incoming students come to college with high expectations and ready to begin a new chapter in their academic careers. However, the adaptation to college life doesn’t always happen too smoothly. Many students struggle with things such as time-management, actually going to class, and finding support for their emotional and physical detachments from friends and families. I can say with confidence that not all students have the best experience their first year.

My own experience included battling with my willpower to actually wake up in the morning and attend class. It’s a lot different than high school when you are always made to go to school. Some may argue that the sheer fact you are now paying for classes should be enough motivation not to miss class. But, it doesn’t really cross many students’ mind when they spent all night out exploring this new and exciting town that they will be spending the next few years in.

Unfortunately, all I wanted was to sleep in every morning. It never crossed my mind that by skipping class, it would affect my grade so much. High school couldn’t be that much different than college right? Boy was I wrong. My GPA dropped after having failed a mandatory English class due to my lack of attendance, and I was forced to retake it over summer. Having to sacrifice my precious summer time to school was a wake up call for me to actually take this college thing seriously. I didn’t want to fall behind on my academics and I didn’t want to give up my summers to schoolwork.

Fortunately, the next semester I forced myself to go to bed early and got up in the morning to attend all my classes. I also learned to discipline myself into getting a hold of my responsibilities as a student. And let me tell you, receiving those passing grades never felt so great in my life. My GPA was rising again and I didn’t plan to stop there!

Now while many students struggle with failing grades, there are still those who struggle with a variety of different things yet are able to turn their experiences around. Take Judy Cruz and Tyler Criss for example! They are just a couple of students that have expressed their struggles they faced their first year but are doing very well now! Read about the experiences they shared below!

TC

(Tyler Criss, Sophomore)

What were some struggles you had your first year?

One of my struggles when I first got to NAU was adjusting to being on my own. My biggest struggle was learning how to manage my time. Also, learning to get up at 6:00AM after having gone to bed at 12AM.

How did that affect your academics?

At the beginning of the semester I didn’t care too much about my work and I procrastinated until the last minute, and by doing that for a few weeks my grades began to plummet due to having to complete the assignments that I didn’t work on originally.  Due to my procrastination I had to retake a math course over the summer.

How did you deal with these situations?

I had to gain the confidence that I would push myself to do better the next semester and never give up.

What is the best advice you could give students?

“Never give up, you’re here now and you can finish school and just don’t lose faith.”

JC

(Judy Cruz, Junior)

What were some struggles you had your first year?

Having 8 am classes is not as easy as it was when attending high school. Being exposed to parties, late night hangouts with friends can totally change the amount of hours someone can have of sleep. As the year continued personal problems started to affect my performance in my classes. Finding how to balance my schoolwork, job, relationship, and social time was not perfect my first year. At times I succeeded in one end I fell short on the others and it just started to make me think if school was really a great fit for me.

How did that affect your academics?

The classes I disliked most ended up taking most of my time. My GPA dropped from a 3.05 to a 2.7. Sometimes even with tutoring and studying that doesn’t really help when someone is not mentally on board with focusing on school

How did you deal with these situations?

I spoke with my professors, got tutoring; pretty much did everything that I could to pass my classes that I was not doing so great in. However, there are still students who struggle with certain classes no matter how much they study, so make sure to ask for help, or go to SI sessions.

What is the best advice you could give students?

“Always go to class and pay attention, no matter how you feel about it. In the end we just don’t know what can happen in a day, so just make the best of what you can give and be proud and satisfied with what you are already accomplishing.”

Leap Forward with Lumberjack Alumni Series Part 5

Ryan Bye, Class of 2011

B.S. in Geography, M.Ed in Higher Education Administration

Higher Education/Residential Learning Coordinator

Ryan Bye (2)

 

What was your career plan during college? Did this change once you graduated? 

“My career plan in college was to work in the public administration field. I thought about working as a city planner, GIS, those kinds of things. However, in my junior year, I was working as a second-year Resident Assistant and I discovered that I could have a career working with college students. I was loving my experience at NAU and I knew I wanted to help ensure that future college students had an equally as amazing and transformational experience as I did.”

How did NAU prepare you for your career? 

“NAU allowed me to become the person I am today. While at NAU I was able to take classes that taught me how to think, work with a diverse group of students that allowed me to develop problem solving skills, and I was able to explore my passions.”

Where are you now? Please tell us about your current career, job location, and pros/cons.

“I am currently working as a Residential Learning Coordinator at Valparaiso University. I oversee a residential hall while serving in a variety of other collateral roles across the campus. I graduated two years ago with my M.Ed in Higher Education Administration and love working in this field. I plan to someday serve as a Dean of Students (maybe at NAU – what do you think Dr. Brandel?). Everyday I have the opportunity to work with college students who are preparing for their vocations. It is truly an honor to help students on their path for excellence. This field also allows me to feel engaged in a community and have fun while I’m doing it!”

What advice do you have for current NAU students?

“Try new things, get involved, and dream big. There are amazing opportunities at NAU and some really great faculty and staff who will work with you to accomplish your dreams. Set your bar high and you will be amazed at what you are able to accomplish.”

What was your favorite part about NAU Flagstaff?

“It is honestly one of the most beautiful places I have ever lived. I have traveled quite a bit since I graduated and the beauty of NAU’s campus and the surrounding area is just as breathtaking as it was the first day I stepped on campus.”

 

Leap Forward with Lumberjack Alumni Series Part 4

Marlin “Colby” Smith, Class of 1980

B.S. in Earth Science, Minor in Journalism

Retired Airline Pilot, School Bus Driver

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Colby climbing Mt. Humphrey, taken in 1977

What was your career plan during college? Did this change once you graduated?

“I started NAU majoring in Forestry. By second semester I switched to Music Education. A year later I switched to Recreation Resource Management. After a semester or two of that, finally switched to Earth Science and graduated with that major.” 

How did NAU prepare you for your career?

“I think any experience we have prepares us for life. My minor was in Journalism. I have always been an advocate for myself and my family. Advocacy requires some investigative writing. My education in Earth Science (Geology and related fields) provided some insight to the geography that I not only flew over as an airline pilot, but that I enjoyed traveling about (by land) with my family on many personal vacations. Learning to learn, or finding the best way to study can help in any career training episode. Meeting new people, making friends creates a lifelong bond of people to network with.”

Where are you now? Please tell us about your current career, job location, and pros/cons.

“I live in the Midwest near Madison, Wisconsin. I’m retired from the airlines, driving a school bus. I also drove a school bus in Flagstaff while attending NAU, so in that regard I guess my career path has come full circle. While my degree was in Earth Science and Journalism, I ended up in the Transportation field, something I have always enjoyed. (I joined the USCG shortly after graduating.) The pros include doing something I enjoy, traveling, seeing many places, meeting others, time off and being financially secure. The cons involved missing some family events and holidays, and being away from home. Towards the end of my airline career I became burned out with the politics and time away from home. But was able to retire early, and now spend time volunteering and doing other things that I again enjoy, while being able to spend more time with family. As for driving a school bus, I enjoy the kids, and have a good part of my days, along with weekends and summers, free! This allows me the time to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, and then travel during the summer. “

What advice do you have for current NAU students?

“Make the most of your time in college. It is most likely your first opportunity to live away from home, while still having somewhat of a safety net of the school atmosphere around you. Get involved in clubs and activities. Socialize with your classmates. Attend a local church and/or join others at the campus religious centers. Go to class and participate. Get to know the adults on and off campus. Many of these folks can provide mentoring that can help you land careers!”

What was your favorite part about NAU Flagstaff?

“I loved the surrounding area. I spent a lot of my free time exploring the nearby forest roads and visiting the other nearby communities. Camping and hiking with my college buddies. Flagstaff had a lot to offer the outdoor enthusiast.”

Leap Forward with Lumberjack Alumni Series Part 3

Brenden Pitt, Class of 2003

BSEd. History/Social Studies & Secondary Education, M.Ed. Student Affairs with Counseling Emphasis

Resident Services Manager at The Guidance Center

brenden pitt

What was your career plan during college? Did this change once you graduated?

“I didn’t really have a career plan during college. I wanted to become a high school social studies teacher and live abroad. While doing my student teaching I applied for the Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. I was accepted and from 2004-2007 I was taught English as a foreign language in a Japanese high school as the only non-native Japanese teacher in the school. My experience living abroad made me want to work with international students in a college environment, so I came back to NAU to earn my Master’s degree. Once I graduated, my career path changed again and now I am working in mental health as a case manager and group home supervisor for the severely mentally ill.”

How did NAU prepare you for your career?

“That’s a hard question to answer because I’m not currently working in either field I studied for at NAU.”

Where are you now? Please tell us about your current career, job location, and pros/cons.

“I’m currently employed by The Guidance Center in Flagstaff. My title is the Resident Programs Manager and I’m responsible for a group home that houses SMI & homeless adults. I enjoy the work as I am embedded with the people I work with and assist on a daily basis. The one con is the unit must be staffed 24-7 and so making sure there is coverage and the constant feeling of being on-call can be a bit draining.”

What advice do you have for current NAU students?

“I know many people have probably told you this, but it is very true: Get as much experience in your field as possible during your college days. It will be very helpful in getting a job once you graduate and also will give you an idea if that’s a career field you want to go into. The mistake that I made was that I didn’t get enough experience prior to graduating and that made finding employment more difficult after graduation. As someone who reviews resume`s for job openings, I would recommend experience as well.”

What was your favorite part about NAU Flagstaff?

“I would say my participation in Greek Life and as a new student orientation leader are my two favorite parts of NAU. Many of the friends and connections I made in those areas continue to be my friends today.”

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