Stevensville class begins September 6; Missoula’s new class starts November 1
The Summit Career Center is accepting applications for its fall program in Stevensville through August 23, with classes beginning September 6. The center is also launching a new program in Missoula on Nov. 1, with applications due Oct. 7.
The center opened in 2020 at Fort Owen Ranch to help adults ages 18-55 prepare for new careers. The free program typically lasts six months and helps individuals grow personally and professionally.
The first six weeks of the program focus on soft skills to ensure participants are ready for work. “We teach them to be good employees, responsible and accountable,” says Jacqueline Stevens, director of development. This includes basics such as punctuality and appropriate attire for the job interview and the workplace. Phase 2 provides professional training in the individual’s area of interest. Coaching and assessment is provided, as well as mentorship from area business leaders and program graduates.
Jeremiah Ishman of Stevensville signed up for the program last year at age 30 after seeing a flyer at a local laundromat. “I’ve made a lot of career leaps in my life,” he says, working in construction, cooking, surveying, forest firefighting, retail and masonry. “I jumped into almost every entry-level job that was out there. Summit Career Center took me out of my comfort zone. I felt a little lost before that.
Center staff pushed him to think about what he really wanted to do, Ishman says. “I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I never pursued it.” He started a design business, Superior Graphics, and is a licensed real estate agent with Coldwell Banker; he will also manage locations for a film production team this fall.
The center has graduated three groups of students since fall 2020. Their new careers include medical billing and coding, construction, veterinary assistant, HVAC, home inspection, AutoCAD, and medical administration. Stevens says, “We can cater for almost any professional interest, but it has to be for the jobs that are available. In addition to opening the Missoula location this fall, Summit plans to increase outreach to local schools to help more young adults find their career paths.
Ishman now helps SCC with group mentoring and mock interviews, and attends Tuesday night “family reunion” dinners to “share my story, offer inspiration, and help the community.” Offering a little positive affirmation is the best thing you can do for someone,” he says. “They push you and give you a lot of confidence. The Summit Career Center gave me, a kid from small town Stevensville, a tremendous opportunity. It’s never too late to take control of your own life.
Summit Career Center is dedicated to serving the most vulnerable people in Ravalli and Missoula counties. The faith-based nonprofit was founded with help from the Fort Owen Ranch Foundation. It is also funded by the Gianforte Family Foundation, private donors, and other Montana nonprofits. Its curriculum is modeled after CrossPurpose, a school in Denver with a similar mission and goal.
CSC’s new Missoula program will be offered at the Valentine Community Center. Prospective students should visit Summitcareercenter.org to apply online. For more information, contact Jacqueline Stevens at 406-777-7232.