Next Generation Career Planning
Job opportunities and job preparations for Alaska’s future workforce
For individuals planning to enter the workplace, it’s important to be aware of what’s going on in a business community. While some skills and work traits are universal and timeless—communication, critical thinking, punctuality—others come and go with changing business priorities, cultures, and technology.
According to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s 2012-2022 Industry Forecast, the industry projected to have the highest growth in terms of percentage of new jobs is Healthcare and Social Assistance, Public and Private, with a projected 11,247 jobs being created in that ten-year period, a 25 percent change. According to the report, projections for all jobs for the ten-year period show some increase except for federal government jobs, expected to decrease by 9 percent, anywhere from 1 to 297 positions. Local government jobs show the lowest positive rate, projected at 0.2 percent, only forty-one new jobs by 2022. Other industries with high rates of projected growth, in terms of numbers of jobs, are Management of Companies and Enterprises at 19.9 percent, 510 jobs; Mining (including Oil and Gas) at 19.8 percent, 3,374 jobs; Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services at 16.3 percent, 2,458 jobs. The expected growth for all industries is 10.8 percent, or a total of 36,113 new jobs by 2022.
The University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) campus is part of the U-Med district in Anchorage, which is comprised of UAA, Alaska Pacific University, Providence Alaska Medical Center, and the Alaska Native Medical Center. These two medical facilities are Alaska’s only Level II Trauma centers; Providence received this designation in March 2015. For those interested in pursuing a career in an industry which is currently experiencing shortages and only has high expectations of growth, UAA is smack in the middle of Alaska’s healthcare community. Last fall the School of Nursing at UAA announced the start-up of its Post Masters Doctor of Nursing Practice program and had applied for candidacy status for the program to be accredited.
Danica Bryant, workforce and career development coordinator at UAA’s Career Development Center, says that the Center is aware of the value of the proximity of these two hospitals, and works to connect students not only with these two centers but with Alaska Regional Hospital and other healthcare facilities and clinics, ensuring that students entering the healthcare field have access to job training and career opportunities.
Of course the Career Development Center at UAA isn’t just focused on providing aid to students entering the healthcare industry. “It’s incredibly important for students to prepare early for their career,” Bryant says, adding that the Career Development Center encourages all students, from freshmen on their first day to seniors with one foot out the door, to take advantage of the Center’s myriad of services and programs. For example, in November 2015 UAA arranged an information session and on-campus interviews with the FBI for students that had recently graduated or those interested in internships. Throughout the academic year the Center organizes “Career Networking Nights,” which requires registration, and “Walk-By Wednesdays,” where any student or alumni can stop by a Career Development Center table located on campus for a quick, free resume review.
UAA’s Career Development Center also has a Job Shadowing program, which Bryant says gives students an opportunity to get real workplace experience, as well as some insight into the type of career they might want to pursue. She says that the involvement of the Anchorage business community in this program is invaluable, and adds that it’s not just students that receive a benefit: businesses gain an opportunity to network with the up-and-coming workforce.
One relatively new service that the Center provides is its Professional Clothes Closet. Professional clothing in excellent condition can be donated to the Center, where staff organize the clothing items, which are then made available to students and alumni who can select up to five pieces per visit, with privacy so they can try them on, that they can then keep. “It’s a huge benefit for those who might not have the resources to purchase professional clothing for an interview,” Bryant says. “We make sure all of the clothes are in good condition, without any holes or stains or anything.”
Bryant emphasizes that the Center is not just for current, full-time students. “We’re excited to help UAA Alumni in further developing their career, whether it’s reviewing a resume or going over second career options.” She says that any student that has ever attended UAA, even those who have only enrolled in a single course and aren’t pursuing a specific degree, are welcome to use UAA’s Career Development Center as a resource.
Career development can be seen through two lenses: finding a job and building the skills to succeed in a job. “They are unequivocally both important, but one—finding a job/career—is more resource-based where the other—building skills to succeed in a job/career—is ongoing continuous development,” Deborah Rydman of the University of Alaska Southeast’s (UAS) Career Services says. Career Services addresses both sides of the coin. Rydman says that a large part of finding employment “involves discussion around what type of job or company [students] are interested in exploring; teaching them how to effectively target/customize their resume and cover letter; preparing them for phone, Skype, or in-person interviews through both reviewing interviewing strategies and setting up mock interviews; and coaching them on how to prepare for starting a new job.”
When it comes to continually building skills, “Career Services is in the process of developing a stronger alumni network connection with an added emphasis around strategies on how to be successful in the workplace,” she says.
“Those who [prepare for a career early] will have the advantage over those who don’t, so it’s strategic to prepare early,” says Rydman. “I’m a strong proponent of students gaining experience through internships, part-time/seasonal employment, or volunteer opportunities that align with their degree program. Students who have acquired this experience during their undergraduate years have a significant advantage over those students who did not—it makes it challenging to market students to employers based on coursework relevancy alone.”
Career Services at UAS also employs various methods to bring resources to students that will assist them in their career development. In the fall, Rydman says, Career Services has a session about finding a job on campus, including follow-up appointments to go over resumes, cover letters, and references. In October 2015 UAS co-hosted with the Student Alumni Association and the School of Management an Employer Panel and Networking event that was televised and recorded by the local station. Students had an opportunity to submit questions to four panelists before and during the event, which was followed by a networking opportunity. She says that in the spring of this year they will have an event in a similar format titled “Getting Ready for Life after College: Social Media.”
“Each year we offer an Employer Panel that features local employers from industries that align with each of our four schools [School of Management, Education, Career Education, and Arts and Sciences] which is available for students to participate in person or online,” she says.
Career Services also provides job search workshops, including information on resumes and cover letters, interviewing strategies, and networking techniques, both in person and online “for our distance students,” Rydman says.
It is important at UAS to connect students and the business community. Rydman says, “At UAS, our deans, directors, and faculty members foster strategic connections with professionals in our business community that result in direct placement of our students with research projects, internships, and workplace opportunities. Our Chancellor’s office is actively engaged with the Juneau Economic Development Council, Juneau Chamber of Commerce, and Rotary International, which provides additional connections for our students.”
Throughout the state colleges and universities are preparing students to be effective in various industries. Career Services at the University of Alaska Fairbanks has various programs, such as a Law School Fair, Engineering Career Week, Accounting Recruitment Week, and a Job & Internship Fair. Career Services in Fairbanks is now utilizing College Central Network, which is an online resource that connects students with employers, as well as tutorial, webinars, and instructional videos. By appointment, Career Services offers counseling for resumes, cover letters, and mock interviews. The department also organizes on-campus recruiting.
Alaska Pacific University’s Career Services assists with planning career choices, graduate school searches, or finding employment. APU provides access to a wide range of resources for its students, including assessments like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Alaska Career Information Services; career counseling by appointment; and online resources such as job searches and online sites that help a student make informed career decisions. It also allows local businesses to post open positions on its website.
Entering a massive industry such as healthcare or oil and gas isn’t the only path to a satisfying career; there are often opportunities in smaller or growing industries. Paul Martz, Economist II with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, says, “The low employment industries in Alaska tend to be relatively stable over time. The one small industry that has been growing quite extensively in the past few years is beverage manufacturing, mostly as a result of new breweries, although I’d still classify the industry as quite small.” An April 2014 Alaska Economic Trends article titled “Alaska is Big on Microbrews” by Neal Fried explores the growth of this industry, saying that Alaska ranked fourth in the nation for breweries per capita in 2012, behind Vermont, Oregon, and Montana. In 2002 there were four brewers open in Alaska, a number which grew to fourteen in 2013. Additionally, the 61 brewery jobs in 2002 grew to 290 by 2013, with total brewery payroll being approximately $7.6 million in 2012. In 2012 payroll for brewpubs was nearly $19 million. The industry is expected to continue to grow.
There are a myriad of career paths; whether one is looking to take advantage of gaps in a massive, booming industry or build a new one from scratch, Alaska is full of next generation opportunities.
Tasha Anderson is an Associate Editor at Alaska Business Monthly.
This article first appeared in the January 2016 print edition of Alaska Business Monthly.