BOZEMAN - Twelve students seeking careers in everything from French pastries to the FBI are part of an elite group at Montana State University.
All selected for the current Professional Coaching Clinic in the College of Business, they have met with several professionals including a marketer who considered Ozzie and Harriet Nelson his second parents, grew up with their children and acted with them on "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" television series. That marketer, Alan Rypinski, then joined the military and later pursued probably 20 different interests. In the process, he launched an obscure chemical product into the international brand Armor All.
The students have also met high achievers with close ties to the White House and the late MSU President Mike Malone. They have personal coaches. They attend master classes with leading business professionals.
"Take all these opportunities. Immerse yourselves in them," Scott Levandowski, former student assistant to President Malone and now president of First Interstate Bank in Bozeman, said in one master class.
Jamie Wieferich, branch operations manager at D.A. Davidson in Bozeman, said in another, "Money or location can be attractive when you are out of college, but I encourage you to go beyond things that are shiny and gold. Learn more about the company culture and how they treat their people. It's a huge thing to be happy to go to work."
The College of Business started the one-semester Professional Coaching Clinic (BGEN 302) in 2010 as a pilot program. Students who want to participate have to apply and go through a selection process. Class members are chosen for their grades, as well as qualities such as communication skills, work habits, initiative and attitudes.
"The type of student we are looking for is somebody who is self-directed, willing to be challenged and ready to intentionally develop their professionalism," said Tammy Machowicz Olsztyn, clinic coordinator and one of three personal coaches this semester.
Derrick Krueger of Butte, for one, had already studied in Germany and worked as a horticulture intern in Australia. He has been a Peer Leader at MSU and an ASMSU senator. He is currently a student ambassador with the MSU Alumni Foundation. But Krueger still felt he could benefit from the Professional Coaching Clinic so he applied and was selected for the current class. His personal coach is Kregg Aytes, dean of the College of Business.
"This class is super helpful," Kreuger said."I really enjoy it."
Students don't have to have solid career plans to participate in the Professional Coaching Clinic, said Machowicz Olsztyn.
"If they don't have clarity, they are seeking it," she said. "My idea of coaching is to meet students where they are and take them where they want to go. Encourage them to do things they might not do on their own to reach a goal quicker and more efficiently."
Paulina Lopez of Mexico City, for example, is a standout on the MSU tennis team. She is majoring in both business marketing and management. But she isn't sure yet what she will do after MSU. She has talked about pursuing digital marketing, real estate and tourism.
She applied for the Professional Coaching Clinic because she thought its one-on-one approach would help give her direction, Lopez said.
Coral Strom of Billings said she changed her major five times, but she is now majoring in business management and minoring in entrepreneurship.Since she loves to bake and wants to learn French, she plans to work for a year after graduation to earn enough money to attend pastry school in Paris.
"I feel like this class is helpful, working specifically with Tammy and getting more of a push to do things that are going to help me get into baking school," she said.
Tevis Goolsby from Phoenix said he wants to join the FBI and become a special agent or a forensic accountant who protects this nation from fraud. His goal is to help people feel safe when they conduct business in the United States. The Professional Coaching Clinic has helped him, too.
"I have enjoyed meeting different people in the community and hearing their stories and what they have done to be successful and getting to where they are and having the opportunity to use them as resources if I have questions about how to take the next step from college to a career," said Goolsby, who is majoring in accounting and minoring in finance and Latino studies.
Todd Brunner from Belgrade said he worked in construction for 18 years, but grew tired of it and decided to return to school. Now majoring in finance, minoring in accounting, and considering a career in investment banking or wealth management, the married father of two was recently chosen as Bozeman's candidate for a D.A. Davidson internship in Great Falls.
"Good for you for honoring your dream and going back to school," Rypinski told him.
Whatever the students plan to do after MSU, Arnie Kleinsasser said the students should make the most of their time in the Professional Coaching Clinic. Kleinsasser took the course in the fall and visited the current class to warn them not to make the same mistake he did. He treated the class like any other until about three weeks before the end of the semester.
"The headlights finally came on for me," he said. "I finally realized what coaching is all about and being pro-active."
Instead of expecting to learn from lectures, he started thinking of the course as if it was his personal business and he was responsible for making it succeed, Kleinsasser said. One thing he did was design a survey for his employees. Kleinsasser is a manager at FedEx in addition to being an MSU student. The goal of the survey was to solicit feedback that would help him improve as a manager.
"The important thing to remember is mindset," Kleinsasser said. "What you make of this coaching clinic is what you put into it."
The same lesson can be applied to life, according to other classroom visitors.
MSU's Chief Executive in Residence Kitty Saylor graduated from MSU in 1982, but said during a master class that she still remembers a faculty mentor who pushed her beyond her comfort zone.His influence and that of others led to her earning master's and doctoral degrees, studying in London, opening a company in Chile, writing speeches for a cabinet member in George H.W. Bush's administration and eventually serving as CEO of REHAU North America.
As a result of her mentor, she always feels like she's "just on the edge of my comfort zone," Saylor said.
"I'm forever grateful for that," she said. "It allows you to feel comfortable with discomfort."
Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or firstname.lastname@example.org