Alumna Questionnaire: Dawn
- What was your major and minor at UW-Green Bay, and in what year did you graduate? Do you have a graduate degree (MS/PhD), and, if so, in what field?
I graduated in August of 2010 with a double major in Psychology and Human Development. Currently, this is my highest level of education.
- What is your current job and how would you briefly describe what you do?
I work as a Mental Health Practitioner (MHP) with Fraser. As a MHP, I am given a caseload of clients who have been diagnosed primarily with autism, however some have multiple diagnoses. For each client, I am expected to create and implement goals, ensure all necessary paperwork is up to date, and most importantly, work with children and teens to improve their level of functioning. Additionally, I run a team of 5-7 behavioral aides, which means I oversee their cases and provide direction to them.
- How do you use your human development and/or psychology education in your current job? If you do not, please explain.
I use both Human Development and Psychology in my current job in many different ways. First, I use Human Development to assess a client’s current level of functioning and compare it to where they need to be developmentally. I also use human development to help families if they are struggling with maintaining a stable living environment. This way I am able to share strategies that worked best for children’s development. For Psychology, I use my knowledge about the variety of disorders (since kids with autism are typically diagnoses with other disorders). I also often have to read the multiaxial system when reading a diagnostic assessment on a child. I often deal with families from different races as well, therefore I use many ideas learned from Multicultural Counseling. Finally, I use some ideas gained about counseling as well when talking to parents and families of the children.
- Was this your first job upon graduation? If not, what was your first job?
While in college, I worked at Wisconsin Early Autism Project (WEAP), a company that provides autism services. Once I graduated, I moved to Minnesota to be with my fiancé. There, I found another job working with autism and was offered an entry-level position known as a Development Trainee/Behavioral Aide. In order to be considered for a MHP position, I had to complete 2000 hours of supervised work with special needs children in addition to a degree in a social science. Once I met the hours, I applied for the MHP position.
- What kinds of things did you do as a student (e.g., specific classes taken, independent studies, working with your advisor or career services, volunteer work, part-time jobs) that you believe made you successful in your job search and/or competitive as a job candidate? Is there anything you didn’t do, that you wish you had done?
While in college, I worked with Good Times Programming on campus. I started as the Innovative Sounds Coordinator and moved up to Executive Director. My current employer was interested in my Executive Director position because I ran a team of seven coordinators. This showed them I was able to handle leading a team, which I also do in my current position. My current job was also interested in the fact that I gained experience with ABA counseling through WEAP. They liked this because I had previous knowledge with what I was applying for.
- What advice would you give to current UW-Green Bay human development and/or psychology students with regard to making the most of their education and making themselves maximally competitive for employment post-graduation?
The best way to succeed after graduation is to network. I say this because if someone spends all of their time in the library, on Facebook and/or goes home every weekend, then they will have no connections/recommendations when it is time to find a job. If someone were to spend their time wisely and get to know people in the field they are interested in, then it will be easier for them to know where to find a job and to have the connections necessary to support them in that decision. The last bit of advice I would give is to believe in you. The more confidence you have in yourself, the easier it will be for someone else to see that and want to hire you. Sometimes it can be hard, but in order to succeed, you need to believe in yourself. No one will want to hire someone who doesn’t think they are capable. “Your belief determines your action and your action determines your results, but first you have to believe.” - Mark Victor Hansen