Fall 2016 — While studying human development and family sciences (HDFS) online through Oregon State Ecampus, Kathryn Cowsert launched her own business, Meraki Consulting, in spring 2015. She provides job services to individuals with barriers to their employment, particularly those with special needs.
Through a partnership with Linn, Benton and Lane counties, as well as the Oregon Department of Human Services Vocational Rehabilitation program, Cowsert connects with employers and assists people with special needs as they obtain and maintain a job that matches their skills, abilities and interests.
“Some of the individuals I work with had never had a job,” she says in the Ecampus story written by Heather Turner. “I get to tell them that not only can they get a job, I will help with each step along the way to ensure they are set up for success.”
Cowsert lends her helping hand until her clients are comfortable on their own, offering services such as assessment, community work experience and job placement. She helps write résumés and cover letters, sets up — and sits in on — interviews with potential employers and provides on-the-job training and support for the first 90 days of employment.
In just over a year, Cowsert has helped more than 20 people in the Willamette Valley obtain jobs, ranging from a Little League baseball umpire to a lifeguard, and an administrative assistant to a baker.
“Everybody deserves an equal opportunity to have a job and to be able to interact with their peers and community members,” she says. “For the first time, they get to see that there are no limitations for them and their skills. It’s so inspiring to see that light go off in their eyes. I love my job.” (Photo Credit: Rick Henry)