Name: Chloe Friesen
Hometown: St. Paul
Major: Master’s degree, school counseling
Position: School counselor at New Millennium Academy, Brooklyn Park, Minn.

When she entered the graduate counseling program at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, Chloe Friesen knew she would have to maintain a rigorous schedule to obtain her degree. 

For the first 18 months of school, Friesen worked a full-time job while also attending school part time. As time progressed, she felt too stretched to perform her best in her classes. 

“I knew I wasn't going to be successful in my program if I kept working in that full time job,” Friesen recalled. “I knew that I had to make a change.”

Friesen did just that. Friesen quit that job and took a new one as a nanny that had a more flexible schedule. That move enabled her to more fully focus on her coursework. 

The job change paid off. Friesen did well in her program, well enough, in fact, to be hired for a job in April, one month before her May 6 graduation. She will work as a school counselor at New Millennium Academy, a K-8 charter school in Brooklyn Center, Minn.

“Sometimes it’s about knowing your limits,” Friesen said when asked about successfully completing graduate school while working. “For me, prioritizing things is not my strength. I try to do everything. But sometimes you have to make choices that help you get where you want to go.”

When she started her undergraduate degree at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minn., Friesen knew she wanted to work with children, but didn’t know which major to pursue. She started in elementary education, then switched to speech language pathology before settling on community psychology. 

An internship at a facility in Sauk Rapids, Minn., that taught children resiliency skills during her undergraduate career solidified her choice to pursue counseling as a career. 

“I realized that community psychology would give me the foundational knowledge about behavior and the workings of the human brain,” she said. “I was able to decide that I want to help nurture students at a young age.” 

Friesen, who lives in the Twin Cities, chose the UWRF graduate counseling program in part because it provided scheduling flexibility and evening classes. She praised the program, saying it prepared her for her profession through practical applications of content areas being taught. She and others focused on learning how to most effectively listen to people and their needs, she said. She also learned how to take into account the many cultural considerations she will encounter in her job.  

“I knew what my vocation was and having all those varied experiences really helped define my skills and strengths,” Friesen said. “The graduate program really allowed me to fine tune them and make me a more effective counselor.”

Students seeking to line up jobs while they’re attending college should take advantage of internships and other opportunities, Friesen said. Making time for professional development opportunities and refining interviewing skills also help, she said. 

“In my experience, you should take the initiative to start early on if you want to line up a job before you graduate,” she said. 

Friesen is excited to begin her new job. She will be the only counselor at a school populated mostly by Hmong students, and she will be part of a team building the school’s counseling program. Her work will focus on mental health and providing young students with the social skills to be able to interact and regulate their emotions.  

“It’s invigorating that I will be part of laying that foundation,” Friesen said. “I want to focus on being proactive to help those students be successful.”