ElevateU: UM's New Signature Career Readiness Program

University of Montana — Goal 1 Initiative ElevateU: UM's New Signature Career Readiness Program

The ElevateU initiative will engage students in intentional, timely, and required experiential learning experiences throughout their time at school, creating accessible career readiness opportunities and facilitating students to connect academic disciplines to real-world career pathways.

Students today are facing two specific challenges: a disconnect between traditional courses of study and future career paths, and a lack of adequate career preparation to meet the needs of today's workforce. To address these challenges, ElevateU will build a foundational structure of required experiential activities throughout the undergraduate experience, heightening students' career awareness and fusing career readiness into curricula.

By providing low- or no-cost access to these experiential programs, the ElevateU initiative will make them accessible to all students, particularly to first-generation, low-income, and BIPOC student cohorts. By building a four-year timeline for career awareness activities, including the creation of Career Ready Groups to integrate professional activities into the first-year experience, the initiative team will provide experiential opportunities for all ages.

The University of Montana is expanding the scale and scope of career-related experiential learning. Our ElevateU initiative couples the breadth of opportunity available at a flagship university with the intensely personal ways we engage with our students to ensure every graduate leaves our campus with robust work-based experience. We are creating a distinctive undergraduate experience that is academically rigorous and personally engaging, designed specifically to ensure every student is prepared to succeed in life and in their chosen career – all in the context of a vibrant experience on and off campus.

Seth Bodnar, University of Montana

Initiative Differentiators

This new initiative builds on existing career support at the University of Montana by integrating career readiness with academic curricula rather than isolating it, making it readily accessible to all students. This includes student participation in a four-year career awareness timeline, encompassing micro-internships, career fairs, credentialing, and professional coaching.

Key Interventions and Milestones

The ElevateU initiative will involve core curriculum changes across the university, engaging every student in at least one lower-division and one upper-division career ready course connected to their field of study. In addition, the initiative creates Career Ready Groups, where key milestones include building platforms to track career activities and integrating career awareness into the first-year experience, building partnerships with employers, and adapting new programs based on employer needs.

Expected Impact

By providing low- or no-cost access to experiential career opportunities throughout the undergraduate experience, ElevateU supports all students in preparation for professional success, particularly students in historically underrepresented groups. The initiative aims to increase the number of employer partners, micro-internships, and credentials gained by participating students, as well as to integrate career awareness courses and activities into all departments across the university.