Be ready to ROAR: Career readiness at MSUM

It is one thing to learn and research as a college student – to experiment and experience an area of study. It is another thing to articulate the skills gained throughout the journey.

When Julie Maahs began her role as MSUM’s assistant director for career readiness, she was excited to not only work with students on their occupational aspirations but to make an institutional impact on their career readiness abilities.

Maahs says that many students possess the eight career readiness competencies that the National Association for College and Employers (NACE) promotes – such as communication, critical thinking, leadership and teamwork, but students aren’t necessarily prepared to articulate where and how they acquired them.

Maahs helps students understand where they are developing these skills. She shows them how to make connections in and out of the classroom, recognize their qualifications and express their expertise. Maahs does this through one-on-one coaching, faculty resources, classroom presentations, and continually updated curriculum like the ROAR Workbook, a step-by-step process for students to Realize where they developed a career-readiness skill, Outline how they developed it, Articulate how the skill relates to their future work or study, and Rate their level of readiness.

Career Development Center

“We have students ask themselves, ‘What skills do I need for the future? What skills have I developed that relate to what I want to do and how have I developed them?’”, she says.

Maahs stumbled upon her career path after serving on a six-month service trip in Thailand, Vietnam and San Francisco post-high school, completing a two-year TESOL program in Canada, her home country, and acquiring a degree in social studies education from MSUM. While taking a class through the University of Saskatchewan, she visited a career coach and realized she wanted to do just that – be a career coach. Later, as an MSUM student, she worked at the Career Development Center helping fellow students with resumes, cover letters and interview preparations.

Julie working at the Career Development Center as a student
Julie works at the CDC as a student.

After graduation, she was an office manager then interim assistant director at Red Willow Bible Camp (Binford, N.D.) before returning to Fargo-Moorhead to work with student organizations at Concordia College, where she also managed the America Reads program and became a career coach for their communication studies, education and health professions majors.

Maahs’ favorite part of career coaching is how “rewarding it is to see the switch from a student second-guessing themselves to feeling confident about where they’re going and what they bring to the table.”.

When students meet with her, they don’t just get career skill guidance, they get the best of the best in resume assistance.

Maahs is Minnesota’s only resume writer (NCRW) certified by the National Resume Writers’ Association, which has 600 members but only 70 NRWs. This distinction required her to complete a writing excellence program and to have one of her resumes scored according to rigorous criteria. One of her resumes also received a 2023 ROAR Award for creativity, strategy, writing skill and applicant tracking system (ATS) optimization.

The latter matters immensely, says Maahs, who references a Jobscan article concluding that 75 percent of recruiters use ATS to review resumes, and Ladders estimates the average recruiter only looks at your resume for 7.4 seconds. Because of this, she teaches students how to highlight their most relevant and best accomplishments.

To get the type of experience they can feature on paper, Maahs encourages students to start early.

“Get involved in student organizations, try out part-time jobs and get a paid internship, because it takes time to develop skills and build relationships with your community.”

Career Development Center

Prepare your resume, recognize and articulate your skills and get assistance in your search for an internship or career.

Connect with the Career Development Center

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