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How College Possible AmeriCorps alumna Joanna launched a higher education career

After completing her term of service as an AmeriCorps college success coach with College Possible, Joanna landed a job with the Oregon State University College of Forestry as an admissions coordinator. For many AmeriCorps service members, careers in higher education are highly sought after, so we chatted with Joanna to hear more about her transition from college coach to admissions counselor.

Joanna representing Oregon State during a College Possible college fair

There’s so much about my role that varies week-to-week, says Joanna of the projects and responsibilities she manages as an admissions coordinator. On a given day, Joanna facilitates several one-on-one meetings and conversations while also planning conferences and events on a larger scale. “I love having a dynamic job that doesn’t keep me at a desk all day,” Joanna notes, “I recently went to Tillamook High School for a career development event for students involved with Future Natural Resource Leaders (FNRL). I got to connect with high schoolers who are interested in natural resource careers and are wondering how a four-year degree might fit into that path.”

Leveraging education technology expertise can pay off. As an admissions coordinator, Joanna interacts with multiple tech platforms each day, many of which have a steep learning curve. “Learning how to use Salesforce as a college success coach was super important, and it gave me a taste of how integral student databases are to so many higher education roles. One of the things I highly prioritized during my term of service was not just looking at my students as a data point, but also keeping in mind their stories. In my current role, both aspects have helped me recognize trends and areas of improvement and brainstorm ways to better support students through the application to matriculation process.”

My experience as a college success coach exposed me to the huge variety of student support programs and pathways available to students, Joanna emphasized. Joanna is passionate about meeting with students in a personal context, listening to their experiences and ensuring that they have an accurate understanding of the options that are out there. “My outlook on this position has definitely been shaped by my AmeriCorps experience,” says Joanna, “In the field of forestry, there are career options that don’t require a bachelor’s degree, which leads to individuals choosing to go straight into the workforce. Since my job involves empowering students to make decisions for their future, I aim to give students knowledge about what a degree in forestry might equip them to do five or ten years down the road. That doesn’t mean every student has to choose college, but I use the coaching model to guide students toward a truly informed decision about their future and higher education.”

Relationships fuel my connections with students and colleagues. While serving as an on-campus college coach at OSU last year, Joanna established connections with other program staff and got comfortable forming collaborative coaching relationships. “Something that’s new for me in this role is supervising a small team of student ambassadors,” says Joanna. “But it’s something that I love doing and I feel equipped to succeed in. I am excited to build a team culture where it’s okay to ask for help, and seeking out resources is encouraged. I think those are mindsets that College Possible instilled in me deeply.”

If you’re searching for a launching pad into a higher education career like Joanna’s, we encourage you to join us at an upcoming information session. We’ll be happy to answer questions about how a service year at College Possible can help kickstart your career!

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