Dual Career Program

A Dynamite Dual Career Program!

A Dynamite Dual Career Program!

Alan Aubert can't say enough good things
about the Dual Career Program at the
University of Nebraska at Kearney.

By Todd Gottula, Kearney Hub Reporter

Aubert"For somebody like me, an outsider who is making the transition to a new town and doesn't know anybody, the program is perfect," said Aubert, who used the program to land a job as a database coordinator at Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney.

"I made my own contacts with Good Sam, but the Dual Career Program helped me get back into the job-search mind set," he added.

"It helped me get my resume updated and forced me to relearn my skills on how to interview, write a cover letter and that sort of thing."

The Dual Career Program's objective is to help spouses and partners of new UNK employees find suitable employment.

"The misconception is that we are a job placement agency," said Michelle Fleig-Palmer, the program's director. "I am not going to get people jobs. We do not guarantee employment.

"We help people realize the skills they have, we help them polish their resumes and network with people. Those things lead to jobs."

Prior to getting married seven months ago, Aubert was happy with his job in Salina, Kan., as residence life coordinator for Kansas State University's satellite campus. But his wife, Gail Sims-Aubert, wanted to stay in Kearney and continue to serve as area coordinator for residential and Greek life at UNK.

"I was excited about moving to Kearney but worried about finding a job here. It was confusing and even scary because there were so many question marks," said Aubert.

Fleig-Palmer helped answer many of those questions.

"I tried to ease Alan into things and get him comfortable," she said. "I know what these people are going through because my husband and I moved eight times in 15 years and lived in seven different states."

"I have been laid off, downsized and you name it, so I know what it is like to go to a new town and not know anybody. That is a source of the passion I have for this job."

Aubert said the key to the program's success stems from its focus on personal attention and Fleig-Palmer's commitment to helping people such as himself build relationships with key individuals.

"Michelle's role was that of a coach. She was supportive and someone I could bounce ideas off of. She introduced me to people and invited me to some professional meetings so I could network," said Aubert, who was promoted in July to computer educator after working just more than four months at the hospital.

"Michelle is wonderful at adapting to your particular situation. She works hard to help you define what you are looking for."

Fleig-Palmer said the Dual Career Program has changed since it was launched three years ago. She said her role has changed from acting as a job coach to a mentor who helps people bridge the gap between their old and new jobs.

"Now I am looking more at how I can make somebody feel welcome and part of the community," she said. "I figure out how I can help them become acclimated quicker than if they were doing things on their own."

Another change, Fleig-Palmer said, is that she now contacts spouses and partners of UNK employees before they arrive in Kearney.

"We don't wait until they move here. I try to get them to have their resumes and search skills polished before they arrive," she said. "I even try to take a couple hours of their time when they are here house hunting. Then, I can take them to meetings and introduce them to people before they even live here.

"That means once they are here and settled in ... they already have some contacts and can hit the ground running."

Sims-Aubert said her husband is not the only one to benefit from the Dual Career Program.

"This is great for the university, too. The program is an asset when recruiting employees to campus," she said. "When people know there is assistance here, when they know there is a safety net that can help their spouse find a job, then it's not quite as scary to come here."

E-mail Deb Huryta, Director, hurytad@unk.edu