Careening Career?

Career specialist Pat Steigauf addresses the unique needs of alumni job seekers.

Attaining marketable career skills is one of the most important aspects of a university education. U of U Career Services helps new graduates find jobs in their chosen field—but what happens later if career circumstances cause the graduate to seek other employment?

The University of Utah Alumni Association has teamed with Career Services to create a program that will specifically address such needs. Enter Pat Steigauf, career specialist and program director. Steigauf has been working in the field of recruitment and employment for more than 15 years. Her wide-ranging experience includes consulting with Fortune 500 corporations as well as mid-sized and smaller start-up and emerging enterprises. She has collaborated with major executive search consultancies and on national and international recruitment initiatives.

“I’ve recruited from the board room to the mail room,” comments Steigauf, “and from coast to coast and around the world. I am pleased to have the opportunity to leverage my skills to help others.” Continuum asked Steigauf how she envisions the job and her role in it.

Q. How did the idea of an Alumni Career Service Program come about?

The initial concept began in discussions between the Alumni Association and Career Services more than 10 years ago. Initiating the program has become more imperative now because the job market has changed dramatically. Over the last decade we have witnessed one of the strongest employment markets in our nation’s history. One outcome is that today’s employees frequently relate career advancement with job change, which happens an average of seven times throughout their career lifes. This, coupled with dramatic changes over the last five years in job-search tools and strategies, has created a demand for job-seeking individuals to refresh, refine, and, in some cases, relearn their job-search skills.

Since the bull market employment boom of the ’90s has taken a serious downturn, the desire for career assistance is now greater than ever. The University wants to help alumni stay ahead of the changing market, maintain a competitive market advantage, and achieve their career goals. To that end, the U’s Alumni Association and Career Services have joined forces to expand services offered to alumni.

Q. What do you see as the structure of the program?

Although the program is still evolving, we are considering two components. The first is employee based—to assist alumni who are planning to launch or are already involved in a job search. This assistance may include cost-effective offerings such as skill-building workshops, online services, one-on-one counseling, and networking opportunities.

The second component is employer based. The goal is to build on our existing relationships as well as forge new partnerships with local employers. In today’s economy, employers’ recruitment resources are severely limited or, at best, reduced. We hope to make the employer’s task of identifying qualified candidates simple, convenient, and economical. Although our local employers may be the biggest benefactors of this program, we also intend to help alumni pinpoint opportunities worldwide. We believe this will be a tremendous asset to alumni currently located outside the Wasatch Front as well as those within our regional base.

Q. How does this service differ from other career offerings?

Career Services does a great job of assisting recent graduates in their first and second employment search. This new program instead will focus on alumni who graduated at least two years ago—those who may have more skills and experience and are not looking for an entry-level position. Their needs may be similar but their levels of operation are not. Mid-career employees who have not been in a job-search mode for several years may require new tools and methods. We also hope to offer services to management and executive management employees, a segment that is often overlooked.

Q. When will the program begin operation?

There is a glut of information on job searching and résumé writing available. We don’t want to duplicate these services and will strive to address the unique needs of our alumni by offering real value-added services. It takes time to assess, plan, and develop a quality program. Our current schedule is to roll out stage one this coming fall, which gives us the rest of the summer to design, develop, and begin to marketing the program. Because we are eager to build it around the needs of our alumni, I encourage those interested to contact me with their comments and suggestions. I can be reached, by e-mail at