Finding a career post-graduation

Story by Nate Beck, Staff Writer

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Senior Steve Janke gave Ruwan a camera and told him to take pictures of things that were important to him.

Ruwan was 16 last summer when Janke traveled to Sri Lanka with a UW-Eau Claire sponsored research project analyzing the interreligious climate after the country’s 30 year civil war.

Ruwan shot pictures of his friends at first, but soon led Janke to a two bedroom house where all five people in his family shared a single bed.

“That hit me really hard,” Janke said. “He’s a kid, he’s going to school, he wants to join the army when he’s done. He was really positive and he still loves life, it just sucks that he doesn’t have the same opportunities that we do.”

On Saturday May 18, a new group of Eau Claire students will graduate, with Janke among them.

According to a 2010-2011 survey of recent Eau Claire graduates, 94 percent were employed or pursuing further education. Janke will graduate with a major in business administration, minor in global studies and a certificate in international business.

An offer to work again in Sri Lanka, as well as another potential job with Wisconsin Public Radio in Milwaukee, are on the table this summer, Janke said.

Janke said he blended his skills in music and business while in school. He held a job with WPR this past year, as well as an internship with Universal Music Group before transferring to Eau Claire from a private music school in the twin cities the summer before his sophomore year.

Staci Heidtke, associate director at Eau Claire Career Services said students work internships while still in school have the most luck finding a job after graduating.

“Many internships lead to full time jobs, it is a process similar to the job search,” Heidtke said. “Last year, 58 percent of UW-Eau Claire students indicated they did at least one internship before graduating … this is one way students can be better equipped after earning a bachelors’ degree.”

Each year Career Services surveys Eau Claire students who have been out of school for a year.

According to the survey, 76.5 percent of past Eau Claire students reported that a degree was required for their current job. And 84.4 percent of grads said their job was related to their career goal.

Heidtke said networking with professionals before graduation is also an important step in getting a job right out of college.  Job shadowing pros can also be a good way to get a handle on where degrees lead, she said.

“Success at graduation can often be attributed to being purposeful — setting a career goal after declaring a major and then taking steps to get experience in the field before graduation,” Heidtke said.

Jessica Rupprecht will graduate this spring with a degree in marketing. She said she was thinking about transferring before she made friends her freshman year living in the dorms.

“When I think about Eau Claire I think about those seven girls, they’ve made my experience here,” Rupprecht said. “Lately I’ve been feeling nostalgic because it’s all coming to an end. Once I put myself out there I found out it was a really good fit for me.”

Rupprecht said an interest in business clicked with the Eau Claire marketing program. She said she enjoys working with people and hopes to find a job close to home in the twin cities this summer.

Although Janke said he isn’t sure where he will land, he’s learned a lot from his work in and out of school.

“Take opportunities, even if you don’t think you might be qualified or ready for something,” Janke said. “You are allowed to mess up when you are in school. It’s better to do that as a student and not as a