Helping Gonzaga University Students and Alumni Clarify and Achieve Their Academic and Professional Goals

Month: November 2020

Graduate School Resources with Katherine Brackmann

This week, our goal here at Career and Professional Development is to help students learn how to prepare them for the career goals and allow for them to learn and decide if graduate school is the right path for you. For guidance, we interviewed ​Katherine Brackmann ​who is the ​Assistant Director, Graduate & Professional School Engagement.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your job at Career and Professional Development

Katherine: Since graduating from Gonzaga in 2010, I am excited to be back here and helping students here in CPD! I work with students who are interested in pursuing graduate programs, and how they can fit that into their career paths. Some specific things that I help with include helping students understand the ins and outs of applying, perfecting their resume, help with writing personal statements, understanding the interview process, and how to search for schools that will be a perfect fit.

How can students who are interested in a graduate school start preparing now?

Katherine: It is important to think about whether grad school fits into your career plans. To help with your decisions or start preparing now, you can network with other professionals in your industry of choice and learn about their career paths and see how they got to where they are today. Not only that but you can also connect with mentors and other faculty members here at Gonzaga as well!

What are the benefits of attending graduate school?

Katherine: Oftentimes attending graduate school is mandatory to pursue a specific career, but also it can deepen your knowledge on a specific field. This will enhance your job prospects, give you the opportunity to gain more experience, and increase the potential of gaining an increased salary because of the increase in positions available to you. Not only that, but attending graduate school can open the door to a change in career path as well.

How can CPD help jumpstart students who are interested in this path?

Katherine: To start, we will discuss how graduate school fits into a student’s ideal career goals. From there, we will look into the application process depending on where they want to go. It is important to discuss application timelines, and also we will help them connect with industry professionals as well as Zag Alum! In our meetings we can offer feedback on applications, interview tips, and help you search for which schools will be the perfect fit for each individual student. Set up a meeting with us on ZagsIgnite, and let’s chat!

Given that our entire world has gone digital, it is so much easier for students to connect with admission reps all over the country.

Katherine BRackmann

How can students still get involved and start exploring, despite the COVID restrictions?

Katherine: Given that our entire world has gone digital, it is so much easier for students to connect with admission reps all over the country. Remember this! Don’t be afraid to get in contact with the school. Get out there and talk about you, and your goals, and learn about what each school can offer you. Especially in a time like this, graduate programs may be offering incentives for people to apply!

What is the most important thing for students to remember when looking into graduate school?

Katherine: The most important thing for students when looking into graduate school is to know your why. Why is this the path for you? How will this better you? Not only that, but staying organized and knowing deadlines is extremely important during the application process. This will help you avoid the stress! Lastly, know your resources. Career and Professional Development is always here to help, faculty is here to answer questions, and know your options financially as well.

What is the best piece of advice for students applying to grad school?

Katherine: Timing is everything. Giving yourself time and grace with everything during the process because it varies with each person. This might be taking time to work and grow professionally and personally which is very beneficial before you further your education. It is vital to remember that everyone is on their own timeline and allowing yourself to reflect on your own timing and finding what you need to do to reach your goals.

Getting Involved, Building Experience, and Giving Back

This week, our goal here at Career and Professional Development is to help students learn new ways to get involved in their communities to prepare them for the career goals and allow for them to start learning skills while still in school.  

For guidance, we interviewed Anthony Medina who is the Assistant Director of the Center for Community Engagement at Gonzaga.  

How does CCE help students get involved?

Anthony: The Center for Community Engagement (CCE) coordinates community and public service programs, including community engaged learning courses, community-based volunteer and outreach programs, and volunteer/advocacy projects. We offer a variety of opportunities to support causes that matter in our world, and serve to develop valuable leadership skills and carry out Gonzaga’s Jesuit mission of working in and with communities. 

Where are the service opportunities located? 

Anthony: In typical times, we offer opportunities to engage in many different locations. From volunteering locally with one of our many non-profit partners, to mentoring youth in our public schools and here on campus, to engaging deeply with communities across the country through our immersion programs, our programs provide students with the opportunity to engage in meaningful community engagement and transformative work. 

When should students start looking for service opportunities? 

Anthony: We offer opportunities to engage in the community year-round. For those students taking a community-engaged learning (CEL) class, we recommend starting your search early at the beginning of each semester. Additionally, most of our CCE programs require at least a semester-long commitment, so connecting at the beginning of each semester is also recommended. Throughout the semester, we can help connect you to one-time service opportunities and opportunities out in the community. Our current context has placed restrictions on one-time and group opportunities to serve. Reach out to find out more about individual programs and partners! 

How can students still get involved, despite the COVID restrictions? 

Anthony: While our current context has placed many barriers to in-person community engagement activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is still a great need and opportunity to collaborate with our community partners in positive and meaningful ways through hybrid, remote, and virtual community engagement activities. 
These altered ways of engagement are new to many of us, but with flexibility, patience, and in a spirit of solidarity we have still been able meet our goals of addressing community-identified needs and provide meaningful experiences for our students. 

Although our opportunities to connect in-person may be limited, we know from our community partners, that meaningful connection and engagement in our communities are more important than ever. 

What is the most important thing for students to remember when looking for ways to get involved in the community?  

Anthony: There are so many important things to consider when looking for ways to get involved in our community. For students looking to get involved, holding a spirit of reciprocity is extremely important. Reciprocity involves building mutually beneficial relationships that benefit you, as a student, and our community partners, meeting community-identified needs. Our student have this great energy and a wonderful passion for engaging with our community. But this is slow work that requires relationship and developing partnerships built on trust and mutual respect, with shared vision, voice, and power. A good place to start is to participate in programs that are already established instead of trying to start a new initiative. I would also say, let the community lead. We all have great ideas for programs and ways we can “help”. But the work shouldn’t center us and our desire to help. That can lead to “saviorism” which is harmful to our community and is the opposite of responsible engagement. Reciprocity means that we value our community partner’s expertise, recognizing them as sources of perspective and wisdom. Holding reciprocity at the center of our engagement sets us up for a successful partnership. 

How can students who didn’t return to campus still get involved? 

Anthony: For students who did not return to campus, there are still plenty of ways to be involved this year. Some of our programming has been reimagined to include virtual engagement. Our Youth Programs and Initiatives have shifted to include virtual mentoring opportunities. Our Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice program has also shifted to be delivered virtually and engage our students in advocacy no matter where they are situated this year. Many of our community partners in Spokane have also had to reimagine engagement and have begun to offer ways for students to engage remotely. Remote students can also join us for our monthly online Zoom show “Community Chat” which is designed to share the good work happening in our community and introduce our students to critical issues and topics in the Spokane community. Finally, we have partnered with university partners across Spokane to offer Learning Together Spokane, a public, virtual learning environment, bringing Spokane professionals alongside college and university students for shared, weekly reflection. For more information about these offerings and other alterations to our service opportunities, please go to and view “All Service Opportunities.” 

How can CCE pair with Career and Professional Development to help students find the opportunities they are looking for? 

Anthony: The CCE and CPD have some established programs that can help students find ways to engage in their communities. The CCE works closely with Career and Professional Development to host a Post-Graduate Service Fair in the Fall and a Careers in Social Justice Panel in the Spring with the aim of helping student connect their passion for serving community with their career aspirations. Serving with a public or nonprofit agency full-time after graduation is a great way to explore a career, pursue a passion, and develop skills and knowledge. 

How can performing service benefit the lives of students, but also their communities? 

Anthony: Wow! There are so many benefits to engaging with our communities. Both for students and for our community partners and neighbors. For our students, engaging with service through the CCE provides them with the opportunity to better know their own communities, to explore critical social justice issues more deeply, to connect their academic learning with community knowledge, and to make meaningful connections with peers and community members. For our communities, partnering with Gonzaga helps build capacity for the work they’re already doing, allows them to tap into students’ energy, and can help solve issues facing the community in collaboration with the academic knowledge present at a university. When we develop authentic relationships with one another, the outcomes are transformative for both the student and our communities. 

Former CIA and Recruiter-in-Residence, Patty Hetu-Tkacik Chats About Careers in Government

This week in Career and Professional Development, we are talking about how students who are interested in working in the government can get started in the career journey. To help provide some advice, we interviewed Patty Hetu-Tkacik, Recruiter in Residence, on how students can start to explore careers in government.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your job at Career and Professional Development

Patty: I started working for the government as a part of the CIA, which then developed into my career as a recruiter for the CIA. I would travel to the west coast, and visit Gonzaga and University of Washington and recruit students who were interested in working for the United States Government. After deciding to retire here in Spokane, I came back to Gonzaga and offered my help to the CPD team to help students to discover where they can apply their knowledge and skills to government positions.

How can students who are interested in a career in government start preparing now?

Patty: For students who are interested in Government, to start the process they should discover where they feel most called to. Sometimes, government jobs require one to give more than they receive, and the best thing to do is pursue something that you have a true passion for. For example, if you have a passion for the environment look into positions where you can make a change and add your input to make an impact. From there, you can look into internship positions where you can explore these passions on a deeper level, and actually take advantage of them.

How can CPD help jumpstart students who are interested in this path?

Patty: Set up a meeting with me! That is my job here at CPD, and together we can discuss all of the difference between the types of government, where you want to help and feel most called for. Based on this, we will point you into the direction of an internship. I will ask you a variety of questions to help navigate what is the best for you.

How early should students start building their resume if they are looking for a career in government?

Patty: Honestly, the earlier the better. Many people start as early as high school, navigating where their passions lead them, but are open to learning with internships, volunteer opportunities. Pursue opportunities that fit your interests and passions early on.

How can students still get involved and start exploring, despite the COVID restrictions?

Patty: Looking at it from a big picture, when the economy is in a decline, the government is still hiring and internships tend to be wide open. Use this time as an opportunity to do some research to see, and they are always looking for students to help in different majors or skills.

Bonus! After the inauguration in January, be on the lookout for new internships because there tends to be a spike after the election year.

What is the most important thing for students to remember when looking for a job in government?

Patty: The key for students and recent graduates to remember is to have patience when looking for a job in government. This is an extremely rewarding career but the process of hiring can be quite extensive at times. It might take a couple of tries to find the perfect position for you, but with patience, dedication, and a driving passion it is almost identical as if you were to be hired by a private company.

Who is the Armed Services Panel for, and what can students learn if they attend?

Patty: The Armed Services Panel is for all students in all majors. Whether you have an interest in the armed services, or interested in looking at what else they have to offer then this is for you! A lot of the services have internships for current students! Things are always changing in the military, and you will have the chance to talk to the recruiters and learn where you can add your expertise in the Armed Services.

If you are interested in attending the Armed Services Panel, it is Monday, Nov 09, 2020 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM. RSVP here on ZagsIgnite!

Don’t hesitate to reach out to Patty here at Career and Professional Development. She is here to help you. Set up an appointment on ZagsIgnite as well.