University of Alaska Shares Lessons From Successful Statewide Implementation of Career Coach

Published on Apr 30, 2018

Updated on Nov 3, 2022

Written by Remie Verougstraete

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The University of Alaska (UA) system has enjoyed remarkable success with Career Coach since its late 2017 launch. Career Coach is Emsi’s software that shows students how a college’s programs lead to great careers that match their strengths and interests. UA’s marketing strategy has been a major win, university leadership is in full support, and traffic on the tool is high. We asked UA to share some of their success story with us, and they graciously responded with the following case study.

Marketing Strategies and Tactics

The University of Alaska commissioned the use of Emsi’s Career Coach on November 1, 2017 and, in just six months, the externally hosted site has been visited over 4,500 times. This response is especially remarkable considering Alaska’s geographic size and overall population.

So how was this accomplished?

Fred Villa

Fred Villa, associate vice president for workforce programs at UA’s system office, took the lead in developing strategies for marketing Career Coach across the 49th state. He identified four key stakeholder groups that should be educated about Career Coach to ensure the broadest possible adoption: the University of Alaska with its three accredited universities and 13 associated community colleges; the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Job Centers; Alaska’s school districts; and employers.

Here are a few examples of how Career Coach has been promoted in Alaska.


Support from UA’s leadership has been a critical part of Career Coach’s success in Alaska. This support was garnered through a combination of webinars, discussions, and pre-launch planning. At the University of Alaska, the proposal to acquire Career Coach needed approval from not just the UA workforce development committee, but also academic affairs, external and public affairs, the office of student enrollment and strategy, the office of institutional research, and the budget and finance department.

Each of these departments needed to ensure that the university’s reputation, as well as the integrity and accuracy of its data, would not be compromised. Furthermore, they needed to verify that the investment would bring value to the university as well as the state. Emsi patiently maintained a professional level of client service with UA that provided the assurances needed to move forward.

Face-to-Face Presentations

On the day of the launch, Villa provided a five-minute introduction to Career Coach at the annual Alaska Process Industries Careers Consortium meeting (see below video). This event was attended by approximately 125 business and education professionals from the oil & gas, mining, seafood & water processing, power generation, and transportation industries.

The reception of Career Coach was overwhelming. Attendees were immediately on their mobile devices: taking Career Coach’s strengths assessment, exploring job postings, and reporting the results’ accuracy and alignment with their interests and companies.

The event was also staffed by students from a local technical high school and their instructor, who immediately expanded the weekend’s career exploration assignment to include Career Coach.

Since the kickoff at the APICC Conference, more than a dozen presentations have been requested by college campuses (for both faculty and students), school districts, career and technical education professional meetings, and industry sector conferences.


UA scheduled presentations during the first two weeks of the launch. Initially, Alaska’s Job Centers’ customer service representatives and the university’s enrollment and career counselors were invited. The primary target audiences included the counselors of jobseekers and adult students in search of educational and training programs.

Web Presence & Public Media

In the face of Alaska’s budget challenges following a downturn in oil production, the university boosted its web-based recruiting efforts and streamlined processes for enrolling students. This included creating a new website that served as an additional access point for Career Coach by highlighting the opportunity to investigate interests, programs, and career options. Another successful tactic was placing Career Coach in a prominent place on the UA home page.

Collaborating with Emsi and the university’s office of public and external affairs, UA drafted a media release about the launch of Career Coach, which the UA office of workforce programs featured on its blog. An Anchorage-based television station, KTVA, also featured Career Coach on a morning news program, Workforce Wednesday.

What’s Next

UA has recently developed a flyer that will be sent to school districts and campuses throughout the state to promote Career Coach. Additionally, the University of Alaska is accepting comments from community campuses and students about how to improve the program mapping and the services associated with Career Coach.

It’s clear that Career Coach is off to a promising start, but UA wants to quantify its success even further. Next fall, UA intends to launch a user survey to better understand the value that students and jobseekers have gained from Career Coach. UA plans to combine this feedback with usage analytics from the administrator’s side of the application to generate an assessment report and determine UA’s overall return on investment from implementing Career Coach.


To learn more about Career Coach and Emsi’s other solutions for higher education, please contact Rob Sentz. For more insight about using data to solve problems at your institution, please join us at the 2018 Emsi Conference.