Many Western students come to think of Bellingham another home town. Like your first home town, you may be aching to get away from it. On the other hand, unlike your home town, there are probably lots of happy memories associated with Bellingham, as well as places to hang out after 8 p.m.
For this reason, some people decide to go to graduate school at the same place they got their bachelor's degree. Others just hang around for a while. Some even decide to get a job at their alma mater.
Admissions advisor and multicultural outreach specialist Oliver Anderson graduated from Western with a bachelor's degree in Communications in 2007.
“Like most seniors, I was scared,” Anderson said. “I didn't know what I wanted to do after college.”
As a student, Anderson worked at KUGS for four years, first as a volunteer DJ and news reader, and then as music director, program director and promotions director. After graduation, Anderson was offered his current job and a job at 103.7 The Mountain in Seattle. Anderson said he accepted the job at Western out of a sense of duty to the school that made him the person he is.
“I don't know if I could do this at another college,” Anderson said. “The reason I do this at Western is I actually genuinely love Western.”
Academic Support coordinator Dale Tamayose said she thinks of Bellingham as her second home.
“Western is a campus you can wrap your arms around a hug,” Tamayose said.
For some, the decision to work for Western is not an immediate one.
“I appreciate Western, and all of Bellingham, for that matter, more now than I did as a student,” Academic Support coordinator Janis Farmer said. “Back then, I couldn't wait to get out of Bellingham.”
Farmer worked at the Office of Admissions as an admissions counselor for one year after graduating in 2003. Then she moved to Hawaii, where she stayed until she returned to Bellingham in 2007.
Farmer and Tamayose both said friends and co-workers played a big part in getting their current jobs.
“This position has totally solidified my belief that it's all about networking,” Tamayose said.
After graduating from Western in 2005, Tamayose moved back to her home state of Hawaii, where she worked as a sales representative and account manager for a small computer company called PCPC Direct. After that, she got a job as a recruiter at the University of Oregon.
“I moved to Oregon with nobody and no plan,” Tamayose said. “I lived in a hotel for a week.”
Moving back to Bellingham was an easy transition because she already had a network of friends, Tamayose said.
Anderson said he still has a lot of friends who are students at Western, which has an upside and a downside.
“Something that's been hard about going to Western and then working for Western is that I never really had the opportunity to transition out of being student and into living a professional life,” Anderson said.
One of the downsides to being a young staff member and an alumnus is being mistaken for a student, Tamayose said.
“I look young for my age, so I can easily be categorized as a student if people don't know who I am,” Farmer said.
Tamayose, who identifies herself as a “city girl,” said it can be hard to be a 25-year-old in Bellingham because there is are not many people her own age.
“I was a student the last time I was here, so I didn't want to go to happy hour at the Bellwether Hotel,” Tamayose said. “My agenda was going to the Beaver.”
Despite the drawbacks to the working week, there are also plenty of perks.
“I love every single thing about my job,” Farmer said. “Working in the university environment, I am surrounded by empowering mentors and inspirational students.”
Anderson said his perspective as a Western alumnus helps him relate to prospective Western students.
Anderson said his communications degree can help him get a job at any number of places.
“If you're a biology major, you're going to work in the biology field,” Anderson said. “As a communications major, you can work anywhere. Any organization has a need for a strong communications specialist.”
Farmer, a business and marketing major, said Western did a great job at training her to be a professional.
“I use my degree every single day, whether it's using computer applications, designing marketing plans and materials for events and programs, or simply communicating with the campus community,” Farmer said.