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Survey: UW-Eau Claire graduates finding jobs in their field

August 1, 2013


UW-Eau Claire’s Career Services office works with students to prepare them for life after college. Associate director of Career Services Staci Heidtke and Blugold alumni talk about getting prepared for finding that first job.


EAU CLAIRE — Just two days after University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire senior David Hon graduated with a degree in environmental geography, he started his full-time job.

For Hon, who has worked since 2012 as a hydrogeologist and storm water specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and for more than nine out of 10 UW-Eau Claire graduates, the transition from the classroom to the workforce goes quickly and smoothly, said Staci Heidtke, associate director of Career Services at UW-Eau Claire.

"We have a 96 percent placement rate," Heidtke said. "Eighty percent of our graduates are employed and 16 percent are pursuing graduate school, or medical school, or some other kind of professional school."

More importantly, Heidtke said, a majority of graduates who are employed are working in jobs related to their field of study, according to the most recent survey conducted by Career Services of graduates from the 2011-12 academic year.

"When we do the survey, graduates who are employed say they are working in their career field toward a career goal," said Heidtke, who noted UW-Eau Claire has had continued success placing graduating seniors into jobs within their fields of study or into graduate programs around the country. "We've consistently been in the mid to high 90s on a placement rate."

Kayla Hasse graduated in May and had a full-time job in her field before she received her diploma. Hasse, who graduated with a degree in management, is the assistant human resources manager for Cascades Tissues Group in Eau Claire. She credits an internship at Cascades with paving the way for her current job.

"I think that made all the difference," Hasse said of the internship. "Without it, who knows where I would be right now?"

The Career Services survey of 2011-12 UW-Eau Claire graduates showed 54 percent had completed one or more internships, which research shows help lead graduates to full-time jobs, Heidtke said. For example, a recent survey showed employers were exclusively choosing from their internship pools for their job candidates 40-50 percent of the time, she said.

"So that means if you're in an internship and it's the end of the summer or end of the semester, you're often called into the office," Heidtke said. "And they say, 'Can we do an interview?' or 'Would you like an offer here?'"

Getting an internship is an important part of preparing a student for life after college, Hasse said. And she credited UW-Eau Claire with promoting a climate that encourages students to pursue those internships.

"They stress having internships right away once you get into the College of Business," Hasse said. "The teachers are really good about letting you know if you need to miss class to go to an interview for an internship, do it, because it's so important."

Hon, who had internships with Beaver Creek Reserve and the Eau Claire County Parks and Forest Department, said getting an internship means gaining skills, gaining experience and getting to know people in the industry.

"The knowledge is in the classroom," Hon said. "But the experience is outside the classroom, and that's in internships."

Heidtke also credits UW-Eau Claire's strong liberal arts program with preparing students for what employers are looking for in today's job market.

"When we look at data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, they talk about skills that employers seek from a candidate, and the number one skill is communication," Heidtke said. "Other things they look for are the ability to work as a member of a team, the ability to orally communicate, the ability to have strong technical skills, to analyze data, to think quickly. Those are all things students get from a liberal arts education here at UW-Eau Claire."

Hon sent job applications to nearly 50 employers. He said almost all of them had the same requirements in the job description.

"Employers are looking for solid interpersonal skills and writing skills," Hon said. "You have to be able to relate to other people. You have to be able to persuade people. You have to be able to be articulate and present information effectively."

Those interpersonal communication skills are ingrained into UW-Eau Claire students because of a wide-ranging liberal arts curriculum, Hasse said.

"You meet so many people when you take those different types of classes," Hasse said. "And that's what you're going to come in contact with in the real world."

The complete After Eau Claire 2011-2012 Post Graduate Survey can be found here: http://www.uwec.edu/Career/gradsurvey/upload/Post-Grad-broch-11-12.pdf

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