MARGE NIELSEN & JAN WARD

BUSINESS SCIENCE Associate Faculty

Marge Nielsen and Jan Ward

marge_final_crop_web.jpgInternships, Cooperative Work Experience and job search classes were our specialty at Saddleback College.  I, Marge Nielsen, and my colleague, Jan Ward worked as Business Associate Faculty from 1988 – 2006, and I worked from 2006 - 2010 as the Coordinator for a mentorship program for students interested in becoming entrepreneurs.  We also directed job search and job placement activities in the Center for Career and Life Development (CCLD) as full-time Job Placement Officers for over 20 years.

The initial development of the CCLD computer lab and a computer module-based class was one of our greatest achievements.  Many students throughout the college used the computer lab.  However, the computer lab was also helpful in the creation of our first computer module-based class.  

The computer lab offered career and job information and one of the first computer job match programs, as well as a variety of interest, values, skills and personality assessments.  Today, the CCLD computer lab is a full-service computer lab with over 35 computers.  CCLD staff has continued to enhance the computer lab throughout the years.

It wasn’t easy developing the lab in the early 1990s.  We had almost no budget and only a few old computers.  We were fortunate that some of our employers gave us computers and Jan’s husband and friends helped us with computer support.  We wrote grants to procure more computers and software, as time went on.   It took a while for some faculty to realize the benefits of having computerized resources and assessments.  Thus, it soon became apparent that the lab was needed.

The timing of the development of the lab was important.  The economy was on the downside and people were anxious for current career and job information.  After a while, we devised a class that would allow students to complete self- directed modules, using the computer software in the Center.  The class was open/entry and open/exit, so students had the flexibility to enter and exit the class easily.  Counselors and the CCLD staff were available to help students process the information and develop a plan of action. 

The class was an immediate success and many people did get the classes, jobs and career direction they desperately needed.  The innovation of the lab and computer class modules was recognized and awarded, “Best College Practice,” by the National Association of College and Employers (NACE).  The Dynamics of the Job Search class was the precursor to the Internet job and internship classes, that we taught in later years.

In the early 1990s, we were one of the first to partner with a new Internet online job and internship match program called JobTrak.  Students looking for internships for the Cooperative Work Experience class benefited from the current offerings of major-related internship and job opportunities in the local businesses and industry. 

The Entrepreneur Mentorship Program allowed some students to start their own businesses with the guidance from mentors.  Other students were connected to individuals and professional associations, such as the Harvard Business Association, for career information, guidance and scholarships.

Leadership opportunities in professional organizations made it possible for us to have strong connections with employers and colleges.  At different times, we both held the office of President of the California Placement Association.  Jan was a board member of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, and, for over ten years, I was an advisory member of the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Advisory Committee for Work-based Learning and Job Placement.  Thankfully, Saddleback College recognized the benefits of our professional development activities.

We experienced an incredible adventure together.  Our ability to work as a team led us to many new innovations and opportunities.  We are proud to be part of the history of Saddleback College.