New efforts under way to connect businesses and CMU students

Cynthia Pemberton, vice president of academic affairs at Colorado Mesa University, discusses efforts to match CMU students with internships and career opportunities. Pemberton said those efforts include job link software, alumni outreach and job fairs. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)
Cynthia Pemberton, vice president of academic affairs at Colorado Mesa University, discusses efforts to match CMU students with internships and career opportunities. Pemberton said those efforts include job link software, alumni outreach and job fairs. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Jenna Noem knows from first-hand experience the benefits of hiring fellow alumni from Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction. Darcy Weir similarly knows the importance of internships in gaining full-time employment.

Noem and Weir recounted their experiences as part of a news conference announcing new efforts to strengthen the connections between local businesses looking for employees and CMU students looking for jobs.

The efforts come as CMU reopened its career services office in a newly refurbished space in the University Center and an initiative promotes increased enrollment and support for the university.

Noem, founder and executive director of Nuclear Care Partners, said 17 CMU alumni work with the home medical services provider — about half the staff at the Grand Junction corporate office. Noem said she’s been impressed with their training and abilities. “We have been blown away.”

Weir, a recent CMU graduate who completed an internship with the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, now serves as workforce development coordinator and director of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy for the chamber. Weir said she honed skills during the internship that enabled her to land a job right out of college.

Diane Schwenke, president and chief executive officer of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, said providing more internships and job opportunities ranks among the top priorities to come out of CMU 20,000, an initiative of the chamber and university to increase enrollment to 15,000 while also enlisting 5,000 supporters.

“We want to capture all the talent and energy we already have on campus,” Schwenke said.

Cynthia Pemberton, vice president for academic affairs at CMU, said the career services center helps match students with internships and graduates with career opportunities.

Pemberton said a job link program that soon will begin at CMU will feature Handshake, job search software used by more than 400 colleges and universities and 20,000 employers nationwide. The software will make it easier for employers to post internships and job openings and students to connect with prospective employers.

The new alumni mentor program will increase outreach efforts to support alumni mentoring and hiring opportunities.

In addition, the career services office organizes job fairs that also connect employers and students, Pemberton said.

Noem encouraged other employers to work with CMU and alumni to not only keep graduates in the Grand Valley, but also benefit their operations in the process.

Weir, for one, said she’s grateful for an internship and then a job that’s enabled her to stay in this “amazing city.”