By Rachel Clepper
As graduation creeps closer for students, many frantically apply to any open positions in the hopes that they will have a job lined up for graduation. Annika Sorteberg was not one of those students. Sorteberg was a student with a plan. Even before beginning her last year at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire she had a job lined up at the L.E. Phillips Career Development Center in Eau Claire, where she now works as a public relations and grant writing specialist.
Sorteberg began working at the L.E. Phillips Career Development Center (CDC) as an intern for two years before starting her full-time position with the organization. As an intern, her primary roles involved job coaching as well as working within the sales and marketing team. When Sorteberg was offered her full-time position with a focus on grant writing, she was surprised. Although she had an extensive background in writing within the public relations field, she had never written a grant before.
A year and a half after receiving her full-time position and a couple of classes in grant writing later, she is now an expert grant writer. She has received many grants for the CDC including a $500,000 grant that has helped to continue the company’s success.
“I love the non-profit world and getting to talk to people with disabilities,” Sorteberg said.
In her public relations position, Sorteberg says that she is making a difference in many Eau Claire community member’s lives, because her position gives her the ability to provide those with disabilities steady jobs among other benefits.
When making a decision for a new logo outside of the building, Sorteberg was able to collaboratively make decisions with her team and put those thoughts into action. Sorteberg’s leadership style matches that of the organization’s mission statement for providing “meaningful” services and opportunities. The focus of the organization is on individuals with disabilities or disadvantages and the ways that they propel their organization forward is asking those individuals for input and consider their ideas in the decision-making process of the organization as a whole.
Before leaving for lunch, Sorteberg stopped by to talk with Dusty Jo McIlquham, a long-term employee of the CDC in the packaging department. McIlquham is one of the many employees with disabilities who have found a home and a community at the CDC. The CDC supports and serves more than 1,000 people in just one year by providing jobs and skill training for the future success of the individuals. One of the partners collaborating with the CDC is the Department of Workforce Development.
Sorteberg said she hopes to continue to expand her experience in public relations and grant writing to increase the scope of help for individuals with disabilities or disadvantages.