Career Profile of the Month: April 2014 Edition

Meet Megan Kautzer (Karas) (Class of ’07) and learn from her journey with AmeriCorps, Lutheran Social Services, graduate school, and now St. Mary’s Springs Academy. Megan has worked with both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, so there is great information in here for everyone.

1. What is your name?
Megan Kautzer (Karas)

2. What was your major and minor at UW-Green Bay, and in what year did you graduate? Do you have a graduate degree (MS/PhD), and, if so, in what field? When/where did you earn that degree?
Major – Psychology Minor – Human Development in December of 2007. I graduated with MS in school counseling from Lakeland College in May of 2013.

3. What is your current job and how would you briefly describe what you do?
I currently work at St. Mary’s Springs Academy (SMSA) as the full-time school counselor for our primary/elementary school and elementary/middle school; I work with 4 year-old kindergarten (K4) through 8th grade students. I try and split my time between the two campuses but find myself more at the elementary/middle school which houses our 3rd – 8th grade students. I teach students different life skills topics either once or twice a month, depending on the age group in a classroom setting, which students do hands on activities and have reflection homework. Some examples of life skills topics would be career awareness, multicultural awareness, bullying, goal setting, etc. I do small and large groups with students and also meet with students individually. For 5th and 8th grade students, I meet with their parents and themselves to have an Individual Planning Conference for their transitions to high school and middle school. I work closely with other staff in the buildings and also parents and build relationships with students.

4. How do you use your human development and/or psychology education in your current job? If you do not, please explain.
I use human development and psychology education in my current job by knowing what human development stage the young adults I am working with are at. I do use some counseling theories without even knowing it, understanding of their culture background, and making evaluations and scoring assessments/inventories.

5. Was this your first job upon graduation (from college or grad school – whichever is applicable)? If not, what was your first job?
My first job for 3 months after graduation from college was at a daycare but then I moved back home and started at Lutheran Social Services – Runaway and Youth Services as an AmeriCorps member for 2 years working with at-risk teenagers, doing small groups at schools, street outreach, giving presentations at schools about different life skills topics, and being an advocate for teens. After working as an AmeriCorps member, I transitioned into a new position at Lutheran Social Services as a transitional living program (TLP) case manager. The TLP program provides services for runaway, throwaway and homeless youth ages 18-21. With my help, program participants developed an individualized plan to ensure safe and stable living arrangements through an assessment of needs, life skills training and counseling to begin to make positive life changes. This program helps youth strengthen relationships and expand natural support systems. TLP is a goal driven program that encourages youth to identify and overcome barriers that lead to self-sufficiency. Another part of my job at RAYS was being a co-facilitator for the Second Chance programs – On the Right Track and Drug and Alcohol Awareness Program; these two programs were for first time offenders who, after passing the class, would get their first time wiped off their juvenile record unless they repeated the same offense before their 18th birthday.

6. What kinds of things did you do as a student (e.g., specific classes taken, independent studies, working with your advisor or career services, volunteer work, part-time jobs) that you believe made you successful in your job/graduate school search and/or competitive as a candidate? Is there anything you didn’t do that you wish you had done?
I talked to my adviser about the next step after college quite a bit, which was helpful to know what is out there in the world for Psychology majors with or without a MS. I was the president of the Psych and Human Development club for a year. I wish I was more involved during my junior year than I was and also did an internship as well. I was a Camp Lloyd buddy and have returned to help co-facilitate the healing circles for the last 3 years, but this year I will be unable to attend due to becoming a first time mom very soon.

7. What advice would you give to current UW-Green Bay human development and/or psychology students with regard to making the most of their education and making themselves maximally competitive for grad school and/or employment?
My advice would be to ask for what you need from your advisers and classmates regarding what classes to take, working effectively with groups, and listening to advice for graduate school and/or what route to take after you graduate. Make sure to attend your classes, not only when you want to, but all the time because they are beneficial in the end, trust me! A lot of what classes I took in graduate school were similar to those classes I took in undergraduate and were a great review and helped a lot. Take advantage of being a part of the Psych and Human Development Club and PSI CHI, if you get the chance. Also, please make sure to volunteer, do an internship, or job shadow to see what field of psychology or human development you would like to go into. I did several job shadows to see if I really wanted to go into several fields and that helped a lot.