Spring graduates navigate high job placement and low unemployment rates

UW-Eau Claire spring graduates enter the workforce with a higher job placement rate than pre-COVID.

Claire Schoenemann

More stories from Claire Schoenemann


Career services are provided in the Advising, Career and Retention Center found in Vicki Lord Larson hall.

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development reported that the state’s unemployment rate is currently tied for a record low of 2.9%

The record-low unemployment rate is leading to a higher job placement rate for UW-Eau Claire students than pre-COVID-19 rates. 

UW-Eau Claire Advising, Retention and Career Center director Staci Heidtke said the pre-COVID-19 job placement rate for graduating students was 96.8%, and the 2020-2021 survey of students showed a 97.6% job placement rate. 

According to Heidtke, the job placement rate indicates students are either moving on to professional work positions or continuing their education. 

The current high placement rates give students an opportunity to explore their options for a job, take a breather, and find something in their field that they want to explore, Heidtke said. 

“I think that the sheer number of jobs that we have gives job seekers confidence that they can try something new, something related to a career goal, and if the first job doesn’t really work, there’s something else for you to try next,” Heidtke said. 

One student who plans to take advantage of the opportunity that the high placement rates are offering is fourth-year environmental biology and ecology student Kacey Soetebier. 

Soetebier plans to travel to Florida following her graduation this spring, where she will continue her educational opportunities studying sharks and rays. 

Even though pursuing permanent employment isn’t her top priority right now, she said UW-Eau Claire prepared her well. 

“I feel prepared, even though I don’t have a job lined up, but I think UW-Eau Claire and the faculty are just phenomenal at getting us ready and having us think about things before we graduate,” Soetebier said. 

Soetebier said students continuing their education at UW-Eau Claire should make use of research and one-on-one opportunities with professors, and attend job fairs in order to familiarize themselves with employers and build communication skills. 

Fourth-year biology student Julia Ratz, who is currently exploring job opportunities in both Wisconsin and Minnesota, said that many of her classes at UW-Eau Claire prepared her for her current employment search as she graduates in the spring. 

“Looking at job sites like Indeed is helpful to see what is out there in your field,” Ratz said, “Seeing what kinds of jobs are waiting for you, and if they are something you’d like to do, can help direct what kinds of classes you take and tell you if you are on the right path.”

Heidtke said that internships, practical skills, study abroad, immersion and on-campus opportunities are great ways for students to explore opportunities as they consider entering the workforce with high demand. 

“Think about your values, your personality, your skills, your hobbies, things you like to do, strengths, and then start thinking about your next steps from there,” Heidtke said. 

According to the Career Services webpage, counselors at UW-Eau Claire aid students in exploring careers, internships, jobs, and pursuing professional goals. 

Heidtke said that entering the current job market is not something that students have to do alone. Family, friends, faculty and staff on campus are all here to help students achieve their professional goals. 

“And also keep in mind that you’re applying for your first job, but that’s probably not going to be your last job,” Heidtke said,” if it’s not everything you were hoping for, or if you just really kind of develop as a person … start the search again,” Heidtke said.

Career service appointments can be made with counselors through Handshake. Heidtke said that Handshake is the one-stop shop for career services, jobs, internships, help with interviews and resumes to combat the pressing job market and help students. 

Schoenemann can be reached at [email protected]