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Work U: Helping Make Wishes Come True

When Michelle Juarez was a senior psychology major, her dream job was a Wish Coordinator at Make-A-Wish Idaho. She always had a deep love for helping children, but without any solid opportunities in sight, she felt a bit lost and was scared about where she might end up after graduation.

Until she found the Work U program and stumbled across an open position at a local non-profit. She had never thought of working for a non-profit other than Make-A-Wish, but something in a related field of work seemed right in line with the type of job she wanted to do. “I was excited to find a position that allowed me to help children in a way I never thought possible.”

Work U blends study and work together in a job setting that students also get credit for. Chosen applicants in the program get to study with professionals in their favored field, and they earn valuable job experience by actually working a position. Applications for fall are open now.

Michelle is thankful for the time she was able to spend in Work U. “With the classroom component, I was able to learn about how to become employable. But in the office, I was able to put what I learned into action.”

Her mentor saw something special in her and shared those findings with the rest of the team. Because of this relationship and her hard work in the program, Michelle was able to land a non-profit job right after graduation. She said, “My Work U experience was one of the most valuable experiences in my college career. It made me feel I was a part of something bigger than myself.”

Dani Ryalls was in a similar situation to Michelle when she found out about Work U in fall of 2019. She felt like she needed to graduate with some work experience and hadn’t completed any work programs yet. Dani knew this was an essential part of becoming a well-rounded candidate for employers after graduation.

She came back to the opportunity in spring of 2020 and was chosen for her first choice program, Trailhead Boise. Dani was able to gain experience creating online marketing campaigns, which fit in with her degree. She grew her online network and learned more about how to properly manage a project.

In addition to marketing, she was thrilled to be a part of the company’s local event, Trailmix, which needed skilled people to help put it together. Dani was able to help plan, produce, and execute the event. On top of all of that, she was able to attend Boise Startup Week on behalf of her position with Work U and Trailhead Boise. Because of these events, she was able to grow her professional network. “Being a part of Trailmix was definitely one of the many highlights of the program.”

Dani also recognized the deep impact Work U’s classroom instruction had on her as a Work U student. If she had any career-related questions, the professors of the Work U class were available and ready to teach and mentor her about her career path and about becoming an employable graduate. “In the classroom, all of your classmates are in the Work U program. Although the majority of individuals are placed at different opportunities, you still have similar experiences. I really liked having a space to talk to individuals who were experiencing similar things.”

“Trailhead gave me the hands-on experience I was craving, and it was all possible through Work U. It is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the workplace and to gain some real-world experience. Work U made me a better student, worker, and an overall better person. Work U provided me with a unique opportunity, and I would recommend it to anyone!”