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.

Career Profile of the Month: February 2014 Edition

Swenty

Meet another one of our amazing alums, Molly Swenty (’13), and find out about her first job after graduation. She has great advice to share!

1. What is your name?

Molly Swenty 

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?

Major: Psychology
Minor: Human Development
Year: Spring 2013

3. What is your current job and how would you briefly describe what you do?

My current position is with Shopko. I work in the Corporate Office as the Human Resource Coordinator for the Rx Business (Pharmacy and Optical). In my position I do a number of different things. First, I am the go-to person to schedule a new hire’s drug test, background check, orientation, and relocation plan. I assist the new hire in the entire process of receiving their offer letter to completing their new hire paperwork. I work directly with recruiters across the nation and assist them in any tasks that they need to be taken care of for hiring an individual. This could mean typing an offer letter to checking their licensing. I also work directly with the store Pharmacy and Optical managers, customer service managers, and Regional Human Resource Specialists. Finally, I am in constant contact with our new hires. I am their first contact on any questions they have concerning relocation, pay, or anything that comes along with a new position. On the corporate side, I help schedule interviews at our office, conduct new hire orientation and aid in daily reporting tasks. 

4. How do you use your human development and/or psychology education in your current job? If you do not, please explain.

I use my analytical, organizational, and problem solving skills. I analyze numerous reports for the recruiters along with head HR staff. In order to organize all of my offer letters, drug test dates and orientation, it takes a lot of skill and practice. Each day I write about 20-30 offer letters and schedule about 6 drug tests. Finally, I use problem solving every day. Something is almost always guaranteed to go wrong. I am the go-to person when a pharmacist administered a drug test incorrectly or the orientation facilitator forgets a step. 

5. Was this your first job upon graduation? If not, what was your first job?

Yes. 

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 search and/or competitive as a job candidate? Is there anything you didn’t do that you wish you had done?

I believe my involvement in Psi Chi (Treasurer and President) was the most helpful. I learned how to balance planning events and trips with my homework and job. I had to learn how to be very organized and utilize my communication skills. I use these every day at my job. Seeing that I didn’t just go to school was a huge plus. I worked, volunteered, participated in student orgs, was a peer mentor and even was able to finish two internships. I was busy, but I showed that I was versatile and ambitious. I believe that setting myself apart by how involved I was or the different activities I participated in helped when applying to positions. Employers like to see someone who is driven and self-determined. By applying myself to as many experiences as possible, I showed these qualities. I also believe that my part-time job at the University Union was another huge plus. I was the Reservations Coordinator and was in charge of over 10 student employees and planned/coordinated numerous large events on campus. I learned how to communicate with individuals on campus, as well as outside resources in the community. This help to strengthen skills I learned in the classroom. Finally, I believe that taking many different types of courses has helped me get to where I am now. I took my Psychology and Human Development courses, but I also made sure to take courses that I thought were interesting. I took Creative Writing, Medieval Literature, and even City Structures/Globalization. The courses helped me expand my knowledge and taught me how to look at a situation from multiple views. 

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 employment post-graduation?

Go out there and experience all of the opportunities UWGB has to offer. Complete an internship, take an interesting class, talk to your professor outside of class, write a grant, conduct an experiment; whatever looks interesting. I am glad I can say I regret nothing. I experienced so many things and was able to make connections all across the community. I learned about my strengths and weaknesses as well. It is important to find yourself and learn what you love and do best. You are in charge of your education and experience, so make the most out of it.
GO OUT AND EXPERIENCE!!!

Career of the Month: Another Alumni Profile

In a new recurring feature, we share information from graduates in different careers. This month we profile an alumna who started off on one career path and transitioned to another. Benefit from her experience by reading on!

1. What is your name? Nina McCormick

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? Major in Psychology, Minor in Human Development, and class of 2009. I attended graduate school at UW-Stout for a MS in Mental Health Counseling but I did not complete my degree. I’m debating going back to finish when my kids are older.

3. What is your current job and how would you briefly describe what you do? I am a Special Education Aide at Genesee Lake School, which is part of the Oconomowoc Developmental Training Center. I work one-on-one with children/adolescents in their ICARE classrooms, which stands for Innovative Care for Autism and Related Disorders. The students in my particular classroom would be considered “lower functioning”, and it is my job to help individuals not only with academics, but also with social skills, personal care, etc. For example, I might take a student to a doctor appointment, then come back to school and work on how to fold towels or how to communicate what day of the week it is using an iPad. I spend my entire day with the student, helping them eat lunch, taking them for walks outside when they need a break, and trying to focus on building a relationship with them. I also work on the units occasionally as a Residential Counselor, which I really enjoy, but the hours aren’t compatible with having young kids that you need to find child care for.

4. How do you use your human development and/or psychology education in your current job? If you do not, please explain. I use both my psychology and human development education in my job to some degree. At Genesee Lake School all our students have either a developmental disability or a mental illness that is too severe to allow them to do well in a regular public school environment. I would say the majority of our students have also witnessed significant trauma and abuse before they came to us. Having a background in Psychology and Human Development has definitely given me an advantage at my job.

5. Was this your first job upon graduation? If not, what was your first job? No, my first job was with Wisconsin Early Autism Project. I also worked in child care for several years.

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 search and/or competitive as a job candidate? Is there anything you didn’t do that you wish you had done? I personally chose to do an internship at the Golden House working specifically with children there. I have always wanted to work with kids, and that’s a passion of mine that has never changed. This was not only good experience, but it definitely looks good on a resume.

I had two part-time jobs while I was in college, one of which was in child care, and the other was teaching yoga classes.

The only thing I wish I would have done more of is volunteer my time in the mental health field.

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 employment post-graduation? Don’t get discouraged if you are not planning to go on to graduate school. The reality is that it can be difficult to find a job in social services/mental health without at least a master’s degree, but as wonderful as those programs are, they are not for everyone. All my life I wanted to be a therapist and once I was in graduate school and actually started doing supervised counseling, I decided it wasn’t for me at this time in my life. I love what I do now, but I had to work my way up to it. The great thing about my job is there is so much room to grow. Get as involved as you can, volunteer, study hard, and enjoy what you do. This may not be the highest paying field out there, but I think it can be one of the most rewarding.

This month we feature another interview with an alum – this one working with her Master’s degree. Read more about her experiences as an undergraduate, though, and the things that made her competitive for grad school and her current job. In fact, given she works as a counselor, you might be surprised to hear how valuable she finds her Public Administration minor to be. So…read on, and be willing to consider some minors you might not have thought about before!

1. What is your name?

Jaimie Simon

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?

My major was in Psychology and I have minors in Public Administration and Spanish. I graduated in 2008. I have a MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling that I obtained from Marquette University in 2011.

3. What is your current job and how would you briefly describe what you do?

I currently work for the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin as a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Counselor. My job includes providing individual counseling, group counseling, and case management for clients. Also, I am required to maintain client records to state standards.

4. How do you use your human development and/or psychology education in your current job? If you do not, please explain.

I use principles of psychology and human development daily to help me identify areas in my clients’ lives (that they may be unaware of) that are causing them difficulties. Also, I often teach my clients principles of psychology and human development that may help them make positive life changes (for example explaining cognitive development to a parent who may be struggling with his or her child’s behavior problems).

5. Was this your first job upon graduation (from college or grad school – whichever is applicable)? If not, what was your first job?

This was not my first job after I completed graduate school. I worked in a similar position as a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Counselor at Acacia Mental Health.

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?

Two things I did at UWGB really stand out as having impacted me positively in my current job. First was being a Student Ambassador. That job required me to make quick relationships with people and that has been something I do daily at my current job. The second thing that was very helpful was getting a minor in Public Administration. Having a background in more of the “business” side of things has given me an advantage over many of my peers and made me feel more comfortable regarding things like budgets, grants, and billing. I believe in time that it will also possibly help me secure a supervisory role. One thing I wished I had done that I did not was to participate in study abroad, I’m not sure this would have direct bearing on my current work life but I do believe it would have exposed me to more diversity. Regarding being competitive in terms of being accepted to graduate school, I would have to say that participating as a research assistant and then later conducting my own study were likely helpful.

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?

I would suggest that students try to make themselves unique in some way, some way that they are passionate about. For example, when I was in school and would talk about the combination of Public Administration and Psychology, I would often get strange looks, but it has been immensely helpful since I have graduated. On a related note, I would recommend engaging in a wide breadth of experiences. College is a great time to try new things and combine different areas of study in interesting and creative ways.