Universal Business Skills Pave Path to Senior Living Career
By Sue McMurray
While Dakota Post may only be in his mid 20s, he’s making life better for senior living residents in one of the nation’s fastest growing industries. The 2019 Carson College of Business graduate is putting his data analytics skills to use helping Civitas Senior Living change both how and what the world thinks about senior living.
Post admits he only took the Introduction to Senior Living class to fulfill credits for his management information systems (MIS) major. Like many people, he had preconceived notions about senior living.
“I always pictured senior living places as virtual ‘waiting rooms’ where the elderly go to live out their final years,” he says.
Class trips to Spokane’s Rockwood Retirement Community and to Argentum’s 2019 Senior Living Executive Conference not only changed his mind, they changed his life.
“These learning experiences showed me how different senior living is than I thought,” says the Pendleton, Oregon native. “My stereotypes dissolved as I saw how far the industry has come in providing seniors with a lifestyle like you’d find at a five-star resort. From restaurant-style dining to touch screen technology that improves residents’ eye/hand coordination and cognition, recent advancements are making their final years the best they can be.”
Transferable skills lead to job offer
While attending the Argentum conference, Post and some other students participated in a breakout session on attracting young people and students to careers in the senior living industry. Executives from Civitas Senior Living, Argentum, and other senior living organizations encouraged them to ask questions about the field and to share information about themselves. As Carson College students routinely engage with industry professionals, Post says socializing and speaking confidently about his MIS training came easily the next day when the group met for breakfast in an informal interview setting.
As an MIS student, Post began developing his skills using Excel software, often helping his classmates on homework and projects. He also gained significant expertise in data management and analytics using Microsoft’s Business Intelligence Stack in more advanced MIS classes. These were key skillsets that caught the attention of Civitas’s senior management leaders, he says.
Within a month, he received a job offer for a business intelligence analyst position with Civitas in Fort Worth, Texas.
On a typical day, Post gathers data from over ten different software programs and creates dashboards that monitor various wellness, marketing, and operations metrics. The dashboards provide vital information for Civitas executives and regional managers to make decisions affecting the residents and staff of its senior living communities across six states.
“We chose to hire a Coug for one simple reason: passion. To achieve our mission of passionate service, passionate cleanliness, and passionate care, it is important to us that we have a solid group of employees who are enthusiastic about what they do both in and out of the workplace,” says Misti Powell, chief people operations officer at Civitas Senior Living. “The students at WSU have no shortage of passion for their school and their community. At Civitas, this is exactly the kind of energy we love to see when adding new members to our team.”
Opportunity, longevity, and work/life balance among the rewards of senior living careers
“To me, senior living is one of the best industries in the world to work in,” says Post. “It is so rewarding using what I’ve learned to make a difference in the lives of people whose decades of experience and wisdom have influenced generations.”
He particularly appreciates the healthy work/life balance afforded by his 8-to-5 schedule and the growth the industry is experiencing as the baby boomer generation moves in. The variety of careers and job security in senior living is a true selling point for many business students, not just senior living majors, he says.
“MIS is a universal language,” he says. “It’s a highly sought after major, and it pays well. You can work anywhere with this business degree, and I love every minute of my job at Civitas, working with passionate, intelligent people to benefit others.”