A Guide for Alumni

By: PJay

I would like to write this post for the UMD alumni. Last year, most of my friends and peers who I looked up to graduated. Some have jobs, some went to graduate or professional school, and some are still discovering what they want to do with their unique majors. For those of you who feel like you have no idea what you are doing, you’ve come to the right place! This post is going to give you some goodies about our office and tips for you to rediscover your passion.

UMD Commencement overhead view

After graduation, you can still use all of the services in our office for FREE!!!
We are literally one phone call away. Whether you have questions about jobs, resume, personality assessments, graduate school, please contact us. Being an alumnus does not mean we forget about you. We want you to succeed. We love helping people and want you to get on the right path for you.

We offer phone and Google Hangout or Skype appointments.
The reality is that after we graduate, we will probably be relocating somewhere else. Even if you can’t make it physically to our office, we will still do our best to help you in other ways. By using the beauty of technology, the career counselors can still meet with you one-on-one to make sure your appointments are accessible wherever you are.

If you are a recent graduate, can still attend the U of M job fairs.
Being a “recent graduate” means that you have graduated within the past three years. Take advantage of this! These job fairs are some of the most life-changing events. Not only do you meet your potential employers, you also meet new people to find new opportunities.

Push yourself to ask for help.
I understand you may feel embarrassed to ask for assistance to find a job, but trust me, we get phone calls about this more than you would think. The world is a competitive place to live in, so do not feel ashamed if you don’t get your dream job right away. But in the meantime, don’t be afraid to practice for that career. It might just be that your resume needs a little more tweaking, or that you need should set up a mock interview for more practice. Whatever it is, our office is here for you.

Lastly, remember to not compare yourself to others.
It may seem like all your friends have their life together. But the honest truth is everyone faces adversity. Some of us are just better at hiding it than others. Also, take life at your own pace. Your life story is perfectly and uniquely written for you. Your opportunities are just not here yet, but with time, everything will come together.

I know you may be questioning: “why haven’t I found a job yet?” or “did I make the right decisions in college?” or other questions about your worth. But know that you are worth something to someone. Take this time to reflect on what you can be doing to change the way you feel, rather than doubting yourself. I know you are more special than you think you are. You survived some of the biggest changes and challenges in your life, your college years. Therefore I know you can do anything you want. Just put your mind into it and everything will fall into place.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo Source: UMD

#BulldogOnTheJob: Bri

Editor’s Note: We’re trying something new this year. We are interviewing various UMD Alumni about how their experiences at UMD have impacted their professional lives. They will also be giving their advice for being successful out there in the real world. 

Today we’re also highlighting the impact that having a disability can have on your professional life, as part of our ongoing collaboration with Disability Resources.

Name: Bri Ettestad
 Cell & Molecular Biology BS; Biochemistry BA
Graduation Date: 
December 2015

Please describe your disability and history of it.
I suffer from both depression and anxiety/panic disorder. I had symptoms of both since childhood, but my diagnosis didn’t come until later–I was diagnosed with depression at 14 and anxiety/panic disorder shortly before I turned 17. In both cases, I, unfortunately, waited until things got bad before going to the doctor. I struggled to find an antidepressant that worked for me, but I was fortunate to find an anti-anxiety medication that also helps manage my depression without many side effects.

Organization, title, and a brief synopsis of what you do at your current place of employment.
I work for the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities as a research scientist. Since I was hired at the end of April 2016, I have been involved in many projects related to immunology and cancer biology. I am currently researching a rare type of lymphoma caused by Epstein-Barr virus, as well as, studying the killing of cancer cells by natural killer cells. I am looking for a gene that causes cancer cells to become immune to NK cell killing and testing a variety of drugs that make NK cells more efficient against sarcomas.


Have you or do you plan to disclose your disability to your employers? What advice do you have for people in a similar situation?
I have not disclosed my disability to my employers, and I am not sure if I will do so. There is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health conditions, and I feel like most employers are not willing to recognize them as a disability. I am extremely open about my conditions with my peers. I am passionate about educating others about mental health and doing everything I can to eliminate the stigma. That being said, I think it comes down to how comfortable one is when disclosing their disability. There is no method that works universally. If you are comfortable disclosing it, by all means do so! If you are not comfortable with it, there is no shame in keeping that information to yourself. There is no requirement to disclose your disability.

Do you use any workplace accommodations related to your disability?
No. I am actually unsure as to what kind of accommodations they could really offer me. My biggest issue is when I have bad mental health days (too exhausted to get out of bed or be productive in any regard, panic attacks keeping me up all night, etc). If I am in a situation where I know my mental health will be detrimental to my productivity that day and it is possible for me to rearrange my schedule, I will take a sick day without disclosing the reason. Unfortunately, science doesn’t wait. Experiments are often on a time schedule and I have had to come in on multiple occasions when I was in no condition to work simply to make sure the experiment was completed.

What were the jobs, opportunities, and/or classes you had that led to your current role?
During my undergrad, I took many lab courses that set the stage for me working in a research setting. In addition to this, I started working as a TA for chemistry labs when I was a sophomore; I taught Introduction to Chemistry and General Chemistry I and II labs along with a discussion section for Gen Chem I. However, the most valuable thing I did was seeking out undergraduate research opportunities. For my last 3 semesters of school (and for a while after graduation), I worked in a research lab in the UMD Medical School where I studied Lyme disease. During the summer of 2015, I was accepted into a 10-week research program at Cornell where I studied neuroscience using Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies). Prior to doing undergraduate research, I was planning on going to medical school. Once I got into the lab and experienced the highs and lows of research, I changed my career path and never looked back.


What were some of the lessons you learned while on-campus at UMD you’ve incorporated into your professional life?
Don’t be afraid to try new things. I went into college like many others who wanted to pursue a career in medicine. I was dead-set on my goal and didn’t want to deviate from it. If I hadn’t taken the step into undergraduate research, I likely would not be where I am now. The job I took here at the cancer center was full of techniques I had absolutely no experience in, and it was all very overwhelming. As a scientist, it is important to expand your knowledge of techniques so you have more options when it comes to planning experiments to answer the questions you are interested in. I had a similar experience at Cornell – I had never worked with Drosophila or done fluorescence and confocal microscopy, and I had to pick up these techniques very quickly in order to complete my project. I could’ve chosen a lab that relied on methods I was familiar with, but I am glad I didn’t. Much of my repertoire of experimental techniques came from being open to trying new things, even if it was stressful and a little bit scary.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known prior to entering your role/field?
Research can be slow, tedious, and frustrating. I learned this relatively early on, but it proves true time and time again. We run into road blocks all the time, whether it be because the experiment itself isn’t working, the cells aren’t growing right, we are unable to get the reagents we need, waiting for approval from safety committees, waiting on grant money, the cell cultures get infected, etc. The list is endless. Science is not about instant gratification in most situations. You have to be willing to stick with something no matter what. In the end, completing a project and discovering something brand new makes all the late nights, frustration, and obstacles worth it.

What career advice do you have for students wishing to enter your field? How about advice around living with a mental health condition and working full time?
This goes for anyone who is pursuing something science-related (including pre-med, pre-vet, pre-pharmacy, etc.): Do undergraduate research. Even if you are 99.99% sure you will not pursue research, it will at least be something to supplement your application to grad/med/vet/pharmacy school. It is a lot easier than you think to get involved in undergraduate research. Look for faculty on the university website, find out what they’re researching, and start sending emails! Introduce yourself and tell them you are interested in volunteering in their lab. Many faculty members are more than happy to take on an undergraduate if they have space. Read some of their papers, meet with the faculty, and learn what you can before deciding whether or not their lab is right for you. If you’re lucky, you may even manage to get on a published paper or two before you graduate.

As for living with a mental health condition and working full-time, take care of yourself. You will have bad days. The first few months of a new job are always stressful (even more so if you move to a new place for the job). Stick with it – it gets easier. When you have your bad days, there is absolutely no shame in taking a mental health day. No matter what, your health comes first. If things start getting really difficult, reach out for help and tell your employer what’s going on, even if it’s hard. Keeping them in the loop when something major happens is very important. If you came down with a serious physical illness, you would tell them what’s happening. Your mental health is no different.

Anything else you want to add about your time at UMD, or since, that greatly impacted where you are now?
It may already be apparent because I am writing this, but getting involved with Disability Resources at UMD was one of the best things I ever did during my undergrad. I thought I could manage my mental health on my own, but when it proved to be too much to handle, DR was there to give me the level playing field I needed to excel alongside my peers. I had the opportunity to speak on numerous mental health panels to help spread awareness and educate other students about mental health conditions, and I know these panels made a difference for several students who were suffering from the same conditions but didn’t know where to turn. Even though my career is as a scientist, I am still looking for ways to help spread knowledge about mental health and end the stigma surrounding these conditions.

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#BulldogOnTheJob: Jennie

Editor’s Note: We’re trying something new this year. We are interviewing various UMD Alumni about how their experiences at UMD have impacted their professional lives. They will also be giving their advice for being successful out there in the real world.

Name: Jennie Lennick
Major: BFA in Studio Art with Drawing, Painting, and Printmaking Emphasis
Minors: Photography and Art History
Grad Date: 2009

Organization: Jenny Lemons
Title: Owner, Designer, and Maker
Brief synopsis of what you do: I design and sew hand made, block printed, and hand painted women’s clothing and home goods that feature repetitive food motifs. All of my products are made from natural and organic fabrics. I sell my goods online, in stores, and at craft fairs. I also teach fiber art workshops all over the Bay Area [San Francisco, CA].


What were the jobs, opportunities, and/or classes you had that led to your current role?
When I was at UMD, I took a costume construction course through the Theatre department that really honed in my sewing skills. All of my print and painting classes taught me necessary techniques to make high quality images.

My teachers in the fine art department at UMD helped prepare me for graduate school at the San Francisco Art Institute. While at SFA, I was a teacher’s assistant for traditional and fiber-based sculpture classes. I graduated with a master’s degree in painting in 2012. Immediately upon graduation, I accepted a two and a half year residency at Root Division, a non-profit arts education institution which provides a subsidized studio in exchange for teaching art classes to adults and children.

All the while, I continued to show my artwork in galleries in San Francisco and Portland. During one art show I made a women’s top as an art piece and I got such positive feedback that I decided to make a small collection of women’s clothing. I showed my collection under the name Jenny Lemons at Renegade Craft Fair in 2015 and had great success.

In January this year, I took an intensive business-planning course through Renaissance Center for Entrepreneurship in San Francisco to develop Jenny Lemons further. The course helped me write a business plan and figure out my finances. Since then my business has been growing exponentially!

Jenny Lemons Portrait

What were some of the lessons you learned while on-campus at UMD you’ve incorporated into your professional life?
When I was at UMD, I worked at KUMD as the music director for college radio and was active in the Art Guild. These two organizations taught me leadership roles and how to work as a team. I also learned the importance of community, networking, and being friendly. People want to work with nice, thoughtful people!

What do you know now that you wish you’d known prior to entering your role/field?
I see myself as a seamstress and an artist, not a fashion designer. I wish I took a few fashion design or business classes in college to speed up my learning curve. My network helps fill in the gap in my industry knowledge.


What career advice do you have for students wishing to enter your field?
Figure out what your vision is and what makes it different than anyone else. If you don’t understand something about your field, take a course or find someone who can help you! Your networks and colleagues will help. Get an internship at a business similar to the one you want to work at.

Anything else you want to add about your time at UMD, or since, that greatly impacted where you are now?
I loved UMD! While I was there, I took advantage of every opportunity I could.

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Photo Source: Jennie Lennick

#BulldogOnTheJob: Cassie

Editor’s Note: We’re trying something new this year. We are interviewing various UMD Alumni about how their experiences at UMD have impacted their professional lives. They will also be giving their advice for being successful out there in the real world.

Name: Cassie Thielen
Major: Mathematics
Minor: Retail Marketing Analytics
Grad Year: December 2015

Cassie at the HanesBrands HQ in North Carolina.

Organization: HanesBrands, Inc
Title: Analytics Technologist I
What you do: In my role I pull data, clean it, and analyze seasonality/trends for the purpose of analyzing our promotional activity and its effectiveness.

What were the jobs, opportunities, and/or classes you had that led to your current role?
Being a part of the Retail Marketing Analytics Program (ReMAP) helped me get my current job. We completed several case studies in that program that really prepared me to be able to present effectively and analyze large sets of data in a smart way and not to be overwhelmed by it.

What were some of the lessons you learned while on-campus at UMD you’ve incorporated into your professional life?
I worked a lot with the Office for Students in Transition during my time at UMD and brought a lot of what I learned working in that office to my current position. I would teach incoming students about their transition from high school to college. Moving from college to the professional world is a different transition, but still an overall large transition. Since this is a transition you will go through some tough times before you really get settled into your role. I’ve learned to give everything more time in my position before I judge if I like it or not.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known prior to entering your role/field?
TIMELINES! I have the hardest time creating timelines for my projects because in college a timeline was GIVEN to you. A project in college had its check points with the professor and there was even a due date! So practice making your own timelines when you get the chance.

Cassie Quote

What career advice do you have for students wishing to enter your field?
There is a lot of data in my field. And that data isn’t going to be right all the time and there will be times where you will have to spend time investigating data and where it’s coming from. Double check your data before you really dive into an analysis! I didn’t do that once and I was RUSHING to get my analysis completed by the time I had to present it.

You also are new at this, it’s okay if you make mistakes. BUT learn from them!

Anything else you want to add about your time at UMD, or since, that greatly impacted where you are now?
My time at UMD was not solely focused on my studies. I was a good student but I also saw the benefit of making connections with staff and faculty. I made connections at UMD that have traveled into my professional career. I graduated UMD with a handful of strong mentors who I can ask all sorts of questions about my career, as well as my personal life. Grades are important but connections you make during your time at UMD also have a great impact.

Interested in HanesBrands? Check out their career page for opportunities.

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Your LinkedIn Toolbox: Finding Alumni

By: Sadie

LinkedIn has all sorts of hidden tools that you may not know about. Today I will be talking about the “Find Alumni” feature. You can find this under the “Connections” drop down menu at the top. This provides you with all the information you might want to know about your fellow alums. You can get information on where they work, what they do, and where they live. LinkedIn automatically fills in the years in which you attended school, and shows you classmates who attended your school, or who are currently going to that school. For a broader search, you can adjust the graduation years at the top.

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5 really awesome details about this feature:

When you first click on the “Find Alumni” link it will show you a list of places where your connections/alumni live, where they work, and what they do. If you look below that list there will be a link that says “Show More,” this will list even more potential places people live, where they work, and what they do. BUT WAIT, it gets better. If you click on the arrow located by the section of “What they do” it will show you what your connections/alums studied in school, what skills they have, and how they are connected to you.

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If you’re trying to determine a major the “Find Alumni” feature can be very beneficial. If you’re unsure about what you can do with your major, say for example you’re majoring in Psychology, but maybe you’re thinking about Education as well, you can specifically click on “Psychology” and “Education” and it will list people with those academic backgrounds and you can look into what those people are doing for occupations.

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The “Find Alumni” feature can also help you with searching for a career. For example, if you’re a nurse and you’re interested in working at Essentia Health you can find it under “Where they work” or search it in the search bar, and find who’s currently working there, then you can make connections based off of that. If you don’t see a business or organization that isn’t listed, you can always search for it.

If you click on “Notables” at the top, you can find notable connections/alumni in your area. For example, Don Ness, the mayor of the city of Duluth.

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And lastly, while you’re searching under “Students & Alumni” you can change the university you’re looking at, so that if you’re interested in transferring schools (which I don’t know why you would even do that because UMD is the best school ever) you can find out information about that specific campus.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Behind the Scenes: Creating the Graduate Follow-up Report

By: Hayley

“Hi! My name is Hayley and I am with Career Services at the University of Minnesota Duluth. We are conducting our annual follow-up of UMD graduates. All of the information we collect is confidential and non-identifiable. Do you have time to answer a few questions for me?”

I repeat this statement numerous times a night as I work as a Student Caller.

The first thing you need to know about the Graduate Follow-up Report is it is compiled by Career Services staff annually and contains information used by many departments on campus. It shows future and current students, and their parents, that recent grads are finding good jobs shortly after they leave UMD. After all, that is one of the main reasons you go to college, right? Another question students and parents ask is: “Will I be able to use my major when I leave UMD?” In the most recent report (2011-2012 grads), we found that 96% of the alumni who completed the survey were either employed or continuing their education. “The good news is, 78% of those employed indicated their jobs are ‘related’ or ‘somewhat related’ to their majors,” explains Janet Pribyl, Assistant Director of Career Services. “This means the majority of UMD graduates recognize they are using their education in their current positions.”


Now let’s talk about how the report is created. The majority of the data is collected by Student Callers, like me. The callers are current UMD students hired by Career Services to collect the data by calling each and every alum who has not filled out the Graduate Follow-up Survey. We begin collecting the data in mid to late November and continue through the beginning of May. Recent grads are given the chance to complete the survey online and we send out multiple emails with the link to the survey. If we don’t hear from the grads, we give them a call.

The survey includes a variety of questions that ask about current job or continuing education experience, and also about other aspects of an alum’s college career. As we chat with each alum, we enter the information into an online database. These additional questions include: is your job related to your major, did you complete an internship, did you receive academic credit for the internship, did you get a job offer from your internship, did you study abroad, and did you use any of the services that Career Services offers. If a job hasn’t been found yet, we make suggestions about services to assist with the job search.

These additional questions add more detail to the final report. Sure, we could just give a percentage of the grads from 2011-2012 who found employment and continuing their education (96%), but we like to go into a little more detail than that. We calculate what percent of the grads from that year did an internship (45%), what percent of those grads were offered employment from their internship (34%) and what percent took that offer (59%). The report also includes the percentage of alum who believe their job is related or somewhat related to their major (78%), and who found employment in Minnesota (83%). We also calculate the high, low, mean and median salary for each collegiate unit and major. We also compare the data from this year’s grads to the data from previous years. For education majors the data is broken down by specialty and the percentage of those employed in teaching (77%). Additional data in the report provides is a complete list of positions and places of employment for each major. This part of the report is a great starting point for anyone looking for potential job ideas and for undergrads in search of career options.


We have just recently completed all of the calculations for the 2011-2012 graduating class and the full report is posted on our website. “The results of the survey indicate 96%, nearly all, 2011-2012 UMD graduates found employment or were continuing their education within one year of graduating. This is a 3% increase from the previous year,” says Julie Westlund, Director of Career Services. “In addition, 83% of those employed are working in Minnesota.” The report is based on responses from 1,729 graduates (91% of the reported 1,901 undergraduate students granted degrees during the time frame).

As you can see, the Graduate Follow-up Report is very detailed and has a ton of helpful information. One thing you need to remember about the report is that once an alum responds and we submit the information to the system, it is non-identifiable. No one will be able to tell who had the highest or lowest salary or who is working where. The survey is simple and easy to fill out so when you graduate and start receiving emails about completing the follow up report survey, do it! Even if you are still seeking employment or applying to grad schools, fill it out. Once you have more concrete information to share, go back into the survey and update your information. Otherwise you can look forward to a couple minute phone call from one of us.

And, please don’t hang up on us…Thanks!

Full report

2012-2013 Grads: Take the Survey!

The Insider’s Look at the Graduate Follow-up Report

By: Megan

The Graduate Follow-up Report is a survey Career & Internship Services does on students the year after they graduate. The purpose is to find out what students are doing after graduation.

You can look at the whole report or jump to specific sections. You will currently see reports from the previous school year and up to five years back. Go into the archive to view older reports.

UMD Graduation 2012
UMD Graduation 2012

What information does the Graduate Follow-up Report include?

  • Number of graduates in each major
  • Employment rates and locations
  • Graduate school attendance rates and locations
  • Major relevancy to occupation (both overall and reported by major)
  • Specific sections for teaching majors
  • Reported annual salaries
  • Job offer rates after internships
  • Employers who have been on campus
  • Comparison of statistics across years

How can you use it?

Choosing a Major:

If you’re thinking about a specific major, go to that major and see what jobs alumni had their first year after graduating. Remember, this is with a Bachelor’s degree.  These are often entry level, and you can work your way up or go to grad school to continue your education. If these jobs are in line with what you’re thinking, you’re golden. This is just a sample, and there are many other jobs you can do, too.

If you know what you want to do eventually, but don’t know what major will get you there, try searching for the job. You’ll probably find it in several different majors! The same job might pop up as related under several different majors.

The Report also lists annual salaries. With all the statistics reported, it’s easy to see the range of what alums are making their first year out. If you’re not planning on going to grad school, this may help you figure out where your price point could be. It’s not the “be all end all” though. Salaries vary across time. Take a look at a couple of different years to see if it’s consistent or if there are any other trends.

If you’re concerned about finding a job:

Some alumni find a job in their field right away; others wait a few years. Some majors seem to have a lot of non-relevant work right after college. This could be because alums are taking some time off (recuperating, if you will), or they can’t find a job. If that’s something you’re worried about, you can prepare. Remember that college is more than just going to classes. Build your resume with on-campus involvement, internships, and leadership positions to make you an even more outstanding job candidate.

The Internship files have some information on students who have completed an internship. If they received credit for it, chances are you can get further data from the department that manages that major. It can be interesting to see how many students on average receive employment offers from the organization they interned at.

Also look at the Major Relevancy charts. Some students feel if they don’t do something directly related to their major right away, they wasted their time in school. However, jobs are often stepping stones. Some majors lead directly into a job; some may lead you on a meandering course. Depending on which you prefer, the relevancy of a job right after college may not matter.

If you’re currently looking for a job:

Go job hunting in the Report. Find your major and look at employers that have hired UMD grads with your same education. You might consider sending in an application or giving them a call. If you happen to know someone who was hired there, let them know you’re interested, and ask them about the environment/work.

For Teaching Majors:

Teaching degrees are broken down more specifically across majors in a separate section. You can look at what people who majored in Art Education, for instance, are doing. If you’re trying to decide between teaching a few different things, this may help you figure out if one will lead to a better place for you.

Are you a grad from the previous school year? Fill out the Grad Follow-up Survey if you haven’t done so already. We’d love to hear from you and know what you’re doing after college!

Also, if you are going to be graduating and already know what you’re doing, we want to know that too! Fill out the survey!

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Photo Source: UMD Campus Photographer Brett Groehler