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A Full-Circle Moment: Why This Alum Enlisted 2U to Help Find Talented Graduates to Grow Her Counseling Practice

Written by Bannon Puckett on Dec 8, 2021

Related content: Graduate Programs, Strategic Partnerships, Outcomes

This illustrated depiction of a therapist facilitating a bilateral EMDR stimulation is part of a larger animation used in Mezamé’s practice, and produced in partnership with AIM Creative Studios (www.AimCreativeStudios.com). The animation has also recently been integrated into the NUMAC program’s education materials.

After ten successful years working in Tokyo’s finance sector, Mari Niiro fell in love with an American and moved overseas to get married. Starting over in a new country, she found her identity in question. But after using counseling to help with the adjustment, she found the clarity and confidence she needed to move forward—along with a new career path.

Through her own personal journey, Niiro realized how much she could help others process challenging life experiences of their own. So in 2018, she enrolled in the 2U-powered Northwestern University Master of Counseling (NUMAC) online program intent on becoming a counselor specializing in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), the modality she had experienced in therapy.

In seeking a placement site for her 200 hours of real-world practicum experience required by the NUMAC program, Niiro made a discovery. “I was shocked to realize there weren’t many agencies that put EMDR—an evidence-based and often transformative modality—at the forefront of their practice,” she recalls. Determined to change that, Niiro shifted paths: Rather than join an existing practice post-graduation, she formed Mezamé with co-founder Megumi Gordon. The duo has now returned to 2U as an industry partner, eager to tap into our expansive Career Engagement Network (CEN) in order to recruit outstanding talent from 2U-powered programs and grow their uniquely positioned business.

I know firsthand that NUMAC graduates have gained valuable, real-world counseling skills. And since 2U-powered programs instill a strong growth mindset . . . that combination of hard and soft skills is exactly what will help Mezamé succeed.
— Mari Niiro, CEO, Mezamé

Overcoming Recruiting Hurdles and Attracting Career-Ready Talent

Launched by Niiro and Gordon in 2020, Mezamé is built on the belief that strengthening mental fitness is as important as strengthening physical fitness. Specializing in EMDR, Mezamé’s clinical team helps clients release the tension in their bodies and minds to improve their overall well-being.

Setting a mission and vision for Mezamé was easy. Recruiting counselors, on the other hand, was much more difficult. “​​We weren’t expecting the market to be so challenging,” explains CEO Niiro. “We thought we’d receive a flood of resumes from the beginning. But it was very difficult to gain traction—especially since we launched in spring 2020, when a lot of therapists were busy establishing remote operations while simultaneously trying to help so many in need at the start of the pandemic.”

Fortunately, Niiro recalled her own experiences in the NUMAC program when considering where to turn for a rich source of skilled therapists. Intent on expanding their practice, she and COO Gordon partnered with 2U in 2021 as a way to increase Mezamé’s reach and candidate pool beyond the immediate Chicago area. They’re now attracting skilled graduates from 2U’s global network of university partners offering programs in counseling, social work, marriage and family therapy, and more.

From posting counseling jobs that 2U’s Workforce Engagement team actively promotes and vets for relevant students and alumni across the CEN, to hosting a webinar about Mezamé’s mission and work culture for eager learners from across 2U’s portfolio of educational offerings, Niiro and Gordon have already benefited from the increased visibility, high-touch support, data-driven insights, and direct access to employer-competitive graduates that come with being a 2U industry partner.

“It's been an excellent experience for us,” says Gordon. “2U is really dedicated to the concept that once students have received an education, they need a practical application. Making that final linkage to employment has felt like a real point of difference, causing 2U to stand out from other recruiting resources we considered.”

2U is really dedicated to the concept that once students have received an education, they need a practical application. Making that final linkage to employment has felt like a real point of difference.
— Megumi Gordon, COO, Mezamé

Growing As They Go

Reflecting on the rigor and quality of her own education through the NUMAC program, Niiro is quick to recognize the value that the CEN and its alumni pool can offer entrepreneurs and small businesses like Mezamé, both in their formative development and well into their future.

“2U-powered programs aren’t just about reading, writing, and learning at a desk,” she explains. “I know firsthand that NUMAC graduates have gained valuable, real-world counseling skills through their practicum. And since 2U-powered programs instill a strong growth mindset, I’m also certain these are people who can continue learning on the job. That combination of hard and soft skills is exactly what will help Mezamé succeed.”

Moving forward, Niiro and Gordon aim to grow Mezamé both geographically, by expanding into new cities, and technically, by developing impactful “delivery models, content, and concepts that are more rooted in technology.”

“Looking ahead, it’s exciting to see 2U’s vast network and scale that spans geographies, programs, and skill sets,” says Gordon. “For example, we may not be hiring for digital marketers or programmers yet, but we hope to in the future—and 2U has a steady candidate pipeline for those specialties as well. It’s great to know that the partnership can grow as we do.”

*AIM

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