UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
Sarah Langlois is graduating from UW-River Falls with degrees in biomedical and health sciences and mathematics and has been admitted to the doctoral biomedical engineering program at the University of Minnesota. She initially thought she wanted to work in biology but learned through her experiences at UWRF that she enjoys engineering and is now pursuing a career in that field. Pat Deninger/UWRF photo.
May 3, 2023 - One University of Wisconsin-River Falls student who will graduate on May 6 will realize her dream job of teaching school. Another will work as a pediatric speech and language pathologist, while still another will operate her own business. Others were admitted to doctoral programs.
While those post-graduate plans are as varied as the students themselves, they share a commonality: each of those students was hired for a full-time job or have been admitted to graduate programs before they graduate.
Of the more than 700 UWRF students graduating on May 6, 87 of them reported* either being hired for jobs or admitted to graduate school programs before commencement. Those students said they’re grateful to have their post-undergraduate plans in place and to have found their way to careers they are enthused about.
“It feels really good to be doing something that makes me excited,” said Cale Graeber, of Tomahawk, who is graduating with a major in conservation and environmental planning and has been hired as an equipment operator at St. Paul-based Landbridge Ecological, a landscape restoration business. “It feels like you’re part of something bigger than yourself, and that is a good feeling.”
Students who lined up jobs or grad school admissions before they graduate credit their getting involved in internships, research projects and student organizations early on in their time at UWRF with their employment success. Those experiences help inform students about what they really want to do, and in some cases, what they don’t want to do for a profession, they said.
Caleb Anton, of New Richmond, will graduate with an exercise and sports science major and was admitted to the physical therapy doctorate program at the University of Minnesota. He credits his internships at Twin Cities Orthopedics and Kinnic Health and Rehab with fostering his affinity for physical therapy.
“That is really how my actual love of physical therapy started,” Anton said of his internships. “Ever since I started there, my love of PT has grown and grown.”
Students also credit faculty and staff with their success at UWRF. The university’s relatively small size and the dedicated, personal nature of faculty create an environment that fosters learning, they said.
UWRF faculty that Kateylnn Firle worked with pushed her to excel, she said. Oftentimes they were tough, but that was because they cared and wanted her to succeed, said Firle, of Fairfax, Minn., who is graduating from UWRF’s communication sciences and disorders master’s program and has been hired as a pediatric speech language pathologist at Fraser in Woodbury, Minn.
“The faculty here at UWRF really want the best for you,” Firle said. “Sometimes they give you tough love. But they have also been very supportive. They have always been here for me when I needed it.”
In addition to being involved in internships, organizations and other opportunities, students said a willingness to step outside their comfort zone is key to discovering what they want to do and landing jobs early on. Sometimes that means changing a major one or more times, they said.
When Halle Haines, of Hastings, Minn., enrolled at UWRF three years ago, she decided to major in education. That decision made sense, given Haines’ affinity for children and her previous experience that included jobs in daycare and as a nanny.
However, during Haines’ freshman year, she switched majors from education to business administration management after her education coursework didn’t seem to fit, she said.
“I love kids and all that, but something wasn't clicking in the (education) program,” Haines said. “I knew I had to find something else that was a better fit for me.”
Haines’ willingness to alter her original plan has worked. She is graduating with a business management degree in just three years and has been hired as a revenue tax specialist by the state of Minnesota.
“This whole auditing thing is not even close to what I thought I would be doing,” Haines said. “It just goes to show that you can’t be afraid to try new things, to go after opportunities.”
Sarah Langlois offers similar advice. She is graduating with degrees in biomedical and health sciences and mathematics and has been admitted to the doctoral biomedical engineering program at the University of Minnesota.
When she enrolled at UWRF, Langlois, of River Falls, thought she wanted to study and work in biology. But her work in research projects and as an intern revealed that she enjoyed engineering.
“Don’t be afraid to take an opportunity, to take a chance,” Langlois said. “That is a big part of how you learn what you really want to do.”
Profile stories about some of this year’s UWRF graduates who landed full-time jobs or were admitted to graduate school before they graduate are available at https://www.uwrf.edu/admissions/hired-before-graduation.
A list of all 87 UWRF students who reported being hired or admitted to graduate school before graduation can be found at https://www.uwrf.edu/CareerServices/Students/StudentSuccessStories.cfm.
*Graduating seniors and graduate students were surveyed by UWRF Career Services in spring 2023 prior to graduation about their post-graduation plans. 87 respondents shared that they had received a job offer or been admitted to graduate school prior to commencement.