Michelle Hartman Swackhamer
Class of 2003
Major: Human Services
I began my time at Western convinced I was going to become an Elementary School Teacher. Fortunately, I was attending a college with an excellent education department. But as many students experience I realized that teaching was not what I wanted to do. I was unsure what my major and potential career would be. Thankfully I was working as a Peer Advisor at the WWU Career Center where all the resources were at my fingertips, such as finding what degree and career were right for me. I stumbled upon the Human Services Program at Woodring College of Education. Many graduates of this program go on to do social work, non-profit work, human resources, and more. Being a person who wanted to make a difference and/or a dependable resource, I knew this program would give me the tools I needed to pursue a career in a field I would love.
I was able to incorporate my job at the Career Center into my internship requirement for Human Services, consequently becoming the Student Coordinator for the Career Center Peer Advisors. I then began networking with the employers at the career fairs every year and landed an executive internship with Target the summer before my senior year. It was a great experience and I learned a lot. However, retail management wasn't something I wanted to pursue as I started preparing for my final year at Western. A few days before classes began I got a call from the Social Security Administration in Bellingham. At a career fair during my sophomore year, I had talked with the office manager about internship opportunities. They still had my interest statement on file and wondered if I would like a nine month internship position. With no possible job leads after graduation, I saw this as a great opportunity. To my luck it became a permanent position and for the last 6 years I have been helping administer benefits to people with disabilities who have little or no financial and/or medical resources.
During my time at Western I made it a point to learn and gain experience about any profession I could. If I could give any advice to students I would say keep your options open. You should network with everyone, even family or friends, who are in careers that interest you. If your name is out there, you never know what opportunities might come up. And go to the Career Center! They'll help you find your way.
Services Utilized Through Career Services Center:
- Resume Advice
- Mock Interviews
- Participating in Career Fairs
- College to Career Transition
- Resumes, Cover Letters & Portfolios
- Graduate School Advising
- Law School Advising
- Pre-Healthcare Advising