Portrait of Katelynn Firle


Name: Katelynn Firle
Hometown: Fairfax, Minn.
Major: Communication sciences and disorders graduate program 
Position: Pediatric speech language pathologist at Fraser in Woodbury, Minn.

When Katelynn Firle applied for a job as a pediatric speech language pathologist last fall, she didn’t really expect to be chosen for the position. 

After all, Firle was still a half year from finishing her work with the University of Wisconsin-River Falls communication sciences and disorders graduate program. She still had internships and coursework to complete. 

But Firle, who graduated from UWRF with a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders, figured she would like the job, so she decided to apply anyway for the position at Fraser, a clinic that treats autism and early childhood mental health needs. The facility is in Woodbury, Minn. 

“I thought ‘There's no way they are going to hire me this far out (from graduation),’” Firle recalled. “But it seemed like a great opportunity, and I thought why not?”

Much to Firle’s surprise, on December 5 she received a job offer at Fraser. She credits her experiences as an undergrad and graduate student at UWRF for providing her with the skills to land a job she is so excited about. 

The faculty Firle worked with pushed her to excel, she said. Oftentimes they were tough, but that was because they cared and wanted her to succeed, Firle said. 

“The faculty here at UWRF really want the best for you,” she 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 her professors, Firle credited the communication sciences and disorders curriculum with preparing her for rigor. 

“Definitely the coursework I did prepared me for what I will do next,” she said.

Firle’s graduate school experiences also set her up for her profession, she said. Among them was working at an acute rehabilitation center at Fairview Hospital in Minneapolis and time with students at Woodbury (Minn.) Middle School. Those efforts provided a broad range of opportunities working with children and adults.

The internships were a “big deal” in helping her get her job offer, Firle said. They also solidified her career choice. 

UWRF students should get involved with internships and other opportunities as soon as possible once they’re on campus, Firle said. She also advocates that students set a timeline to accomplish tasks to ensure that important steps toward getting hired someday are happening. 

Firle describes having a job before she graduates on May 6 as “a huge accomplishment.” She is relieved to have had a job early instead of having to search for one in addition to final exams.

“Now that I have a job lined up, it feels great,” she said. 

Firle starts that job in June. In the meantime, she is thankful to have a job that aligns with her passion. 

“I’ve always loved working with individuals with special needs,” Firle said, noting she initially thought about being a special education teacher before a counselor suggested she study communication sciences and disorders. “I researched it and thought why not? I stuck with it and it seems like a perfect fit.”