Career of the Month: New Alumni Profile Feature

With this issue, we start something new with our Career of the Month feature. Instead of profiling one or two potential jobs for our students, we will profile an alum of one or both of our programs so you can learn about the actual career path of a graduate! The first former student we feature is employed right here on campus – a big PF thanks goes to Elaina Koltz.

 1.      What is your name?  Elaina Koltz

 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? My degree is in Human Development and Psychology.  I do not have a graduate degree yet.

 3.      What is your current job and how would you briefly describe what you do? I am currently a financial aid adviser (30%) and veteran services adviser (70%).

There are 425 students at UW-Green Bay that use veteran education benefits.  As Veteran Certifying Official for UW-Green Bay, I guide veterans through the maze of veteran’s benefits and financial aid.  This involves interviewing the student when they first arrive and determining their veteran benefits and financial aid.  Each student veteran who walks through the door has benefits unique to their experiences in the military.

 4.      How do you use your human development and/or psychology education in your current job? If you do not, please explain. I chose Human Development and Psychology because I knew I would be working with a group of students who were not traditional students and who have lived some unique, live-changing experiences. 

Many of the veterans I work with have service-related disabilities and transitioning issues.  As a result, I work closely with our disability office, our counseling and health office and the dean of student office.  I also work closely with veteran offices in the community like the Green Bay Vet Clinic, the Veteran Center and surrounding county veteran offices.  When a service member does not get paid and it turns into a hardship case, I advocate for him/her with the local congressman’s office.  In this position I have had to deal with homelessness, the aftermath of suicide and destructive behavior.  There have been times when I have a student in tears in my office.  Although it is not my job to counsel students, I have to know when it is necessary to walk them to the counseling and health office to meet with a counselor. 

The courses I took in psychology and human development that dealt with stress-related problems became very important.   Many of these veterans/students have come back to school after being in an extremely high state of stress for over a year.  Also, PTSD, TBI and suicidal behavior became familiar topics I dealt with each semester.  I learned how important it is to have a strong support group; both for myself and the students.     

 Also, a large number of veterans are adult students who went from high school right into the military.  They may not have taken college prep courses in high school or even the SAT/ACT and they are very anxious about jumping into the role of student.  Sometimes they need to be encouraged to seek out tutoring or additional help.  These are people who do not usually ask for help.

 5.      Was this your first job upon graduation? If not, what was your first job? I was already in the position of Veteran Certifying Official at UW-Green Bay when I graduated in 2006.  My graduation was well timed because of the rise in number of veterans returning to school from the recent wars.  My position was re-evaluated in 2009 and it went from a classified position to an academic staff position.  I even had to reapply and interview for this upgraded position.  Having a degree in human development and psychology helped me to secure this position.

 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? Courses in human development theory, counseling across the lifespan, personality theory and abnormal psych were courses I found helpful.  Although I did not take an internship, I felt I was consistently in an internship in my current position as veteran certifying official.  I was constantly absorbing new information helpful to my job.  I also took on additional responsibility as the veteran student club advisor.

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? Take your courses seriously.  There is always a chance you will use what you learned in your future, especially from the psychology and human development area.  Unless you live in a glass case, you will be dealing with people. 

Take advantage of any internship opportunities and volunteer in the community.  Use volunteer opportunities to determine if a certain job position is right for you.