Alumna Questionnaire: Jessica
- 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 double-majored in Human Development and Psychology, and I graduated in May 2011. I am currently in my first semester of my master’s program in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of South Carolina – Columbia. I will graduate with my Masters in Education in May 2014.
- What is your current job and how would you briefly describe what you do?
Prior to starting my master’s program, I worked for that year after graduating UWGB. I worked with Infinite Ability, INC which is a family-owned and family-oriented company that helps care for and rehabilitate patients that have suffered traumatic brain injuries. The main office is located in Sun Prairie, WI and they have 6 homes and a day program center for the patients, throughout Dane, Columbia, and Sauk Counties. I worked 38-40 hours per week as a third-shift (11pm-7am) care-partner. Typically, I would help my 3 clients with daily (or night/morning) life tasks, pass/administer medications, do physical therapy, brain-teasers, some counseling, cooking, and keep a log of activities, illnesses, behaviors, and progress for each client.
Currently, I am a full-time graduate student and a part-time graduate assistant for the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition (NRC). I work with the assessment, grants, and research branch at the NRC where I work with my advisor and NRC director on potentially funded research projects, research opportunities, edit surveys, edit data, enter data, proof-read writing, help write grants, help with grant-selection process, assess research, help point others toward correct resources, and staff conferences hosted by NRC. I think that about covers it!
- How do you use your human development and/or psychology education in your current job? If you do not, please explain.
When I worked with Infinite Ability, Inc., my Human Development education was important in understanding the different life-stages and life-tasks my client were at and Psychology played a crucial role in better understanding my clients’ injuries, illnesses, and behaviors. Both of my majors played a role in better understanding and caring for my clients. My interdisciplinary education from UWGB prepared me to have an understanding in areas applicable to my work (i.e., human biology for physical therapy and other medical needs, and understanding cross-cultural differences, social work, etc.). Traumatic brain injuries are complicated and Human Development/Psychology at UWGB granted me the knowledge of the human brain, attitudes, and behaviors that gave me the skills to care for my clients. Having had classes in human biology and with students bound for nursing through the UWGB/Bellin program; I had remembered having conversations in class and with those students that helped me with the medical/physical therapy aspects of my job. Having some experience with social work students through my Human Development courses, I was better prepared with the social work aspect of my job (i.e., keeping a progress/activities log, etc.) and I was able to converse with the social workers that came by the home because I had shared common knowledge with their expertise.
For my GA position, my entire bachelor’s degree is crucial for actual position but my degrees and experiences at UWGB landed me the position. Because of the requirements for the double-major, I have taken 3 courses in stats/research (Social Science Stats, Experimental Psych, and Dev. Research Methods) and with my experiences of having a Research Assistantship twice, I was sought out by the director of the NRC and by the previous GA in this position (grants, assessment, and research). For my master’s program, my research experience has set me up with the skills to do a thesis for the program (only a handful of masters students actually do the thesis option versus the comprehensive exam option) that can potentially be the start of a dissertation for when I seek my doctoral degree. The interdisciplinary aspect of my undergraduate education is highly valued by my professors, advisors, and staff – they were all very impressed with my degrees’ richness and unique quality.
- Was this your first job upon graduation? If not, what was your first job?
My first full-time job was with Infinite Ability, Inc. upon graduation from UWGB and prior to my acceptance into University of South Carolina – Columbia, (USC).
- 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?
I firmly believe that my enrollment into my First-Year Seminar course really launched my success and absolute completion from UWGB and it really paved the way to finding my passion for the First-Year Experience. Which this passion has driven me to apply to USC and apply to my GA position at the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition in grants, research, and assessment. Working with my advisor, Dr. Bartell as her research assistant really gave me confidence in my abilities to do research and opened my eyes up to the world of Higher Education and Student Affairs. I find that both research assistant opportunities (and in combination with my research/stats courses: Social Science Stats, Experimental Psych, and Dev. Research Methods) really made me competitive in my application to graduate school and for hiring in my GA position. I had conferencing experience thanks to my many involvements on UWGB’s campus (NRHH, Psi Chi, Phi Eta Sigma, Peer Mentor and my Research Assistantships) and I also gained leaderships skills being a leader in my orgs: Phi Eta Sigma, NRHH, and Psi Chi. When I became a Peer Mentor, I truly valued being a student at UWGB and I was honored to be a mentor to those in my first-year seminar... it really kept my passion for the First-Year experience alive and well. Being an Ambassador for UWGB was a very rich experience too and it really looks and feels good to say “I was an Ambassador at UWGB! I was a role model and representative for my undergraduate institution.” Being in two wonderful majors, I got to meet wonderful staff members that are so invested into their students that I got to know many on a personal level and these connections are INVAULABLE! Very helpful for my acceptance into Graduate School and my advisor was well-known by my director for my part-work as a GA. Studying Abroad with Dr. Cupit to South Africa was a true immersion of culture mixed with my knowledge and practices in Human Development and Psychology... and it was a wonderful, once-in-a- lifetime opportunity that I find to be priceless. Finally, me being a University of Wisconsin – Green Bay Phoenix is in itself, something I cannot put a number on (even with my not-so-little student loans). Like I had mentioned before, the interdisciplinary aspect and focus at UWGB is truly unique, involving, and one-of-a-kind that other degrees from other institutions really cannot compare to my degrees from UWGB. You may not see it now as a student or perhaps you really don’t see the full potential of your interdisciplinary education, but when you are hired for a job, applying to graduate school, or using your degree in a field, you WILL stand out of the crowd and you WILL be well-prepared for any work, schooling, or experience that comes your way in life. You have truly been given the key to success and an experience of a lifetime.
Answering the second portion of the question; is there anything you didn’t do that you wish you had? No, there really isn’t anything that comes to mind that I missed-out on in my undergrad experience – my experience was lived to its full potential and very rich that I would do it all over again if asked.
- 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?
Become involved – I was always told that as a freshman and I could never really understand what that meant until I became a Peer Mentor. When I became a Peer Mentor I was the student encouraging other students to become involved but this time I had experience on my side and was able to give these new students ideas and opportunities to become involved. It doesn’t have to start out big; you can simply attend a presentation at the Union, take up a professor’s offer for assisting them on a project, or simply joining a club. There are an ABUNDANT of opportunities and experiences waiting for you, every day at UWGB, you just have to open those doors when you see (or hear) them!
Really pay attention to your degrees – remember that you are a Phoenix at UWGB. You have been given the key to success and an experience of a lifetime through the interdisciplinary aspect in your education. You really have it good so continue to do well in your course work and become involved with your degrees and staff members. These connections you make now will take you far in your career and education, so be sure to introduce yourselves to all of your professors and be engaged in your classes and with your learning.
Talk to your advisors NOW about your future goals – Even if you don’t know what these goals are yet... your advisors are skilled and knowledgeable which means that they could have a few ideas for you in how you can find out what your future goals are and what paths you need to take to reach your goals.
If you EVER have a question or are struggling, please ask for help or clarity right away! There is a profuse amount of services at your disposal at UWGB and these services are there for YOU! Do not ever hesitate to ask a question or to seek help from these wonderful service members. Even if you do not know where to look or who to ask, just ask anyone and they will direct you in the right direction.
Always take the risk to say “YES” to an opportunity – the risk is worth its weight in gold. However, be aware of your limits. You don’t want to stretch yourself too thin... challenge yourself but do not set yourself up for disaster.