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Communication Studies
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    Alumni Profiles

    Amy Knutson, December 2010

    CST Emphasis and Minor: Organizational and Professional Communication, minor in Interpersonal Communication 

    Knutson

    Additional Education: Attended UW-L for graduate school and received a Master of Science degree in Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education in May 2013.  

    Current Position: Career Counselor/Employer Relations in Career Services at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.  I assist students/alumni in the College of Management with various topics including co-op/job searching, professionalism, LinkedIn, resume and cover letter review, and interviewing.  I also assist new employers looking to recruit at Stout by explaining recruiting strategies and helping identify a tailored strategy based on their needs.  

    Past Employment: As a graduate student, I was an Academic Advisor for undeclared freshmen and transfer students.  I also participated in an internship in Residence Life.   

    Advice to CST Students: During college I remember people asking me "What are you going to do with a major in Communication Studies?".  In reality, the world is your oyster.  Explore your interests, job shadow, and participate in internships!  Employers want to hire individuals with great classroom knowledge and hands-on practical experience!  

    Link: www.uwstout.edu


    Sarah Jean Smith, May 2013

    Smith(1)

    CST Emphasis and Minor: Organizational and Professional Communication, with minors in English and Photography  

    Current Position: Career Development Coordinator for Coldwell Banker River Valley, REALTORS.  I handle incoming leads for people interested in receiving more information on how to become a realtor.  I make sure they receive the information and contact them to answer any questions they may have and set up interviews.    

    Advice to CST Students: Choose a senior project that may help you receive a job after graduation.  I received two job offers with my senior project.  

    Link: www.joincbrv.com   


    Audra Monroe, Spring 2011 

    CST Emphasis: Organizational and Professional Communication 

    Monroe

    Current Position: Marketing Communications Specialist at Inland Label in La Crosse. 

    Additional Education: Currently working on my MBA and will graduate in summer of 2015.  

    Past Employment: Marketing & Communications Specialist at Great Rivers United Way in Onalaska. In this position I dove into all things marketing - including media relations, collateral development/design, social media and corporate communications. I was also a Marketing & Communications Coordinator at Sajan, a software company where I worked primarily on their corporate blog and social media initiatives.  

    Advice to CST Students: Stay involved in different initiatives and campus groups. Not only will it give you real-world experience, but you'll have great memories and friendships to cherish because of it. Internships are also great experience--one of mine led me to my first post-graduate job!  

    Links: United Way - www.gruw.org -  Inland Label - www.inlandlabel.com    


    Jared Ellerson, Spring 2011 

    CST Emphasis and Minor: Organizational and Professional Communication, minor in Sports Broadcasting  

    Ellerson

    Current Position: Media Relations Assistant for the Chicago Bears. I  set up interviews between local/national media and our players and in-turn prep the players prior to the interview. I update player stats and bios for our weekly game release in-season and for the media guide in the offseason. On game day I report injuries to our coaches on the sideline and to the rest of our media relations department in the press box. I also connect the players with the coaches in the booth via the telephone on the sidelines  

    Past Employment: I interned in the Stakeholder Relations Department for Aurora Healthcare and I spent the 2011 season as an intern in the Green Bay Packers Public Relations Department. 

    Advice to CST Students: Do as many internships as possible and work your tail off while you are there. Schoolwork alone cannot get you a job. Getting a job is really about who you know, but once that person opens the door for you, you have to show that you deserve the job through your hard work.  

    Link: www.chicagobears.com


    Carissa Wiersma, 2012  

    Wiersma

    CST Emphasis and Minor: Organizational and Professional Communication, minor in Spanish 

    Current Position: Marketing & Communications Coordinator at Arrowhead Promotion & Fulfillment. I tell our company's story through social media, web advertisements, blogs, email campaigns, and content creation.   

    Past Employment: Communication Specialist, Account Executive (Sales)  

    Advice to CST Students: Explore your professional interests while in the CST Department and talk to your advisers/professors about potential career options. Apply for great internships and get some real world experience under your belt before graduating. Don't be afraid to fail--just go for it.  

    Link: www.apfco.com


    Andrea Wilson, December 2009

    CST Emphasis and Minor: Double major in Organizational and Professional Communication & English (Rhetoric and Writing Emphasis)

    Additional Education: Masters of Publishing, The George Washington University, 2012  

    WilsonCurrent Position: Production Specialist. I work in the Production Unit of an educational publisher in the Washington, DC area. Our products (books, magazine, newsletters, online courses, etc.) are focused towards the professional development of teachers, teacher leaders, department heads, principals, superintendents, and anyone else in the education industry. My role is to shepherd projects through the creative process. I work with content creators (authors/editors), designers, copyeditors, the public relations team, the marketing team, and distributors to take a project from an initial idea to a final delivered product. It involves a lot of project management skills, as well as personnel management and publishing expertise.   

    Past Employment: Editorial Assistant (magazine), Project Coordinator (non-profit educational advocate)  

    Advice to CST Students: Figure out what you're passionate about and find an organization that matches those values. You'll have the instinct to rush into the first job you're offered after graduation (and don't fight that instinct as you do need a job ASAP), but always keep your dream job in mind. The excitement of being gainfully employed will wear off quickly, and then you'll need to figure out how to expand your career to fit your goals.  

    Link: www.ascd.org     


    Lindsay Braatz, May 2013 

    CST Emphasis and Minor: Marketing, minor in Organizational & Professional Communication   

    Braatz

    Current Position: Membership Director at the La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce.  I manage all membership sales, prospects, renewals and past due accounts. Similarly, I manage all major sponsorship sales/renewals and newsletter advertising sales. I am also the staff liaison/coordinator for our Ambassador and Membership Committee groups. Additionally, I assist with marketing for events, the rebranding of events, and social media marketing. The Chamber also has a Young Professionals group in which I am involved.  

    Advice to CST Students: Practice and create habits that will transition into your career someday.  Try to get involved in something that you wouldn’t normally do that could give you an advantage later on in your career. I was on the UW-L Sales Team and not only was it an absolute blast, but I learned so much and use the skills I gained every single day in my job! Do not be afraid to ask questions and/or for help.  Have fun & enjoy it--it goes by way too fast!  

    Links: www.lacrossechamber.com and www.facebook.com/lacrossechamber


    Lindsay Swiggum, May 2013

    CST Emphasis and Minor: Organizational and Professional Communication, minor in Political Science  

    Swiggum

    Current Position: Information Technology Account Manager. As an account manager for Kforce IT Staffing, my job is a combination of business development and relationship maintenance.  I research companies in the Minneapolis market, and then call on managers within the company’s IT Department to discover if they need help staffing their team.  I meet with anyone from the managers of IT teams all the way up to the CIO. Much of my job is centered on building relationships and trust within companies with the ultimate goal of a lifetime partnership.   

    Past Employment: In addition to the job I currently hold, I am also the Communications Coordinator for the Camp of Dreams, Friends of FANA, MN, and a Member of the Board of Directors for Friends of FANA, MN.  

    Advice to CST Students: In order to find out what road I wanted to take my CST major, I first thought about areas of communication I might want to pursue. I then met with a professional in each of those areas and asked them to tell me about their job, what they liked, what they didn’t like, and how they got to their current position. This gave me an opportunity to decide which jobs I ultimately wanted to apply for. Work hard, keep learning, and enjoy the ride.   

    Link: www.kforce.com/


    Kara Souther, 2006  

    CST Emphasis and Minor: Organizational Communication and Public Relations, Pre-Physical Therapy & Biology  

    Souther

    Current Position: Director, Ronald McDonald Family Room. The mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) is to create, find, and support programs that directly improve the health and wellbeing of children and their families. I manage the Ronald McDonald Family Room program in St Paul, MN where I work directly with families, partner with hospital staff, and supervise a team of nine employees (two of which are UW-L graduates). In addition, I give presentations in the community to increase program/brand awareness and participate in annual fundraising events.   

    Past Employment: Project Assistant for a logistics company (first job out of college, 18 months)  

    Advice to CST Students: Get involved while you’re at UW-L and get “real life” experience before graduating. The more you can develop your networking skills, the better chance you’ll have at finding employment that is a good fit for you.  

    Link: http://rmhc-um.org/  


    Andrew Doney, 2011

    CST Emphasis and Minor: Double major in Organizational & Professional Communication & Economics, minor in Mathematics  

    Doney

    Current Position: I am a Business Analyst for Humana Insurance Company. My specific role is to function as a Product Owner for an agile project management scrum team that develops system enhancements to HumanaOne’s Agent Workbench. My responsibility is to define functionality requirement scope, write user stories, sign off on delivered work, and present delivered work to HumanaOne leadership. Agent Workbench is an agent quoting and enrollment tool for individual Dental, Vision, FPP and A.C.A compliant medical insurance products.   

    Past Employment: I started out as a Financial Analyst with Humana Insurance Company prior to accepting the Product Owner role within the same company.  

    Advice to CST Students: I would advise all CST majors to be flexible in the direction that their career takes them. If they are too focused on one specific function or job role, they will miss the opportunity to define new skillsets and conquer new challenges.  

    Link: www.humana.com   


    Anna Lamm, 2012  

    CST Emphasis and Minor: Organizational and Professional Communication, minor in Interpersonal Communication 

    Current Position: Purchasing Executive at Dynamic Recycling. I am responsible for finding new customers that we can not only buy, but also sell electronic scrap.  

    Past Employment: I worked in Madison prior to this position in telephone book sales. It was one of the most difficult things I have done, but the experience I gained was something I could not have gotten anywhere else. 

    Advice to CST Students: Take a job that will push you mentally. The only way to get better is to work harder than you ever have. Employers will value your hard work and experience.    


    Christine Piela, May 2013

    Piela

    CST Emphasis and Minor: Organizational and Professional Communication, minor in Music  

    Additional Education: Currently working toward a Project Management Certificate   

    Current Position: I am currently a Legal Assistant at Hebl, Hebl & Ripp.  

    Advice to CST Students: Figure out exactly what you want to do before you get out of school and start pursuing it passionately. Use every resource at your fingertips while on campus. Network like crazy. If you aren't sure, try career seeking guides like What Color is Your Parachute. Also, get very familiar with AP style. Every job involving writing or editing will require you to be fluent in it.   

    Link: www.hebllawoffice.com/


    Stephanie Perleberg, May 2010

    CST Emphasis and Minor: Organizational and Professional Communication, minor in Recreation Management  Perleberg

    Additional Education: Master’s degree in media studies from UW-Milwaukee.  

    Current Position: I am a Field Service Representative for Hoka One One and Ahnu footwear (owned by Deckers Outdoor Corporation). I travel around several states in the Midwest to throw fun, customer focused events at stores that carry our shoes. I also educate the sales staff on our products.   

    Past Employment: While in graduate school I was a teaching assistant in the journalism and media studies department. I went on to work as the Media and Communications Manager for the WNBA’s Chicago Sky. In that position I did mostly public and media relations work including pitching stores to local and national media, setting up interviews for our players, and writing stories, press releases, and game notes.  

    Advice to CST Students: Don’t get discouraged if you don’t land your dream job right after graduation. You will change quite a bit from the day you graduate and the years following graduation. If you keep working hard and show passion for success, you will achieve it. Second, connections are key! Reach out to successful professionals in the field in which you’re interested. They have the best advice and will steer you in the right direction. 


    Dana Harelstad, December 2013  Harelstad

    CST Emphasis and Minor: Organizational and Professional Communication, minor in Psychology 

    Current Position: Executive Team Leader for Target Corporation. I drive profitable sales by ensuring guest service and in stock levels for several departments. Other responsibilities include conducting interviews, serving as leader on duty by overseeing entire store operations, and striving to achieve sales goals by monitoring store controllable expenses.  

    Advice to CST Students: I would highly recommend participating in an internship program. The skills and experience you will gain through an internship will lend themselves well to the "real world." An internship may also result in a job offer upon graduation!  

    Link:  www.corporate.target.com/careers    


    Allie Swatek, December, 2012   Swatek

    CST Emphasis and Minor: Organizational and Professional Communication, minor in Business Administration   

    Current Position: Special Events Coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association. I plan six Alzheimer’s Association signature events, including five Walk to End Alzheimer’s events and our annual Rhythm & Brews Beer Tasting event. My average day includes promoting the event, recruiting active event planning committee members, designing all event related signage (invitations, flyers, posters, postcards, and event logos), advertising the event via local media channels (TV stations, radio stations, newspapers, newsletters), purchasing event supplies, contracting event caters and donors, and soliciting event sponsors and participants. During the event, I do everything from setting up, directing volunteers/participants, and photographing the event. I also help with occasional graphic design projects, updating our Facebook page and website, and attending various vendor fairs and career expos.   

    Advice to CST Students: Take CST 351: Interviewing: Principles and Processes. This class truly prepared me for the professional world. Through CST 351 I was able to create a professional (and well-received) resume, complete my portfolio and learn how to better (and more confidentially) interview. After accepting my current job, my employer stated that although I did not have as much work experience as the other candidates, my interview and my portfolio really wowed her.   

    Link: www.alz.org/gwwi  


    Brian Reuter, May 2011  

    Reuter

    CST Emphasis and Minor: Organizational and Professional Communication, minor in Business Administration   

    Current Position: Online Accounts Manager at Zendesk. I help our clients decide on the subscription/plan that best meets their needs. As the first person to hold this position within the organization, I'm helping to build a growing team by developing a training program and outlining the internal workflows that will help the position scale along with the increasing client base.  Past Employment: Inside Sales Executive at MicroEdge, Merchandise Planning Business Analyst at Target's Corporate Headquarters, Operations Support at The Payroll Company, and Director of Operations with the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters.  

    Advice to CST Students: I would recommend being open-minded to all different kinds of opportunities. To me, the greatest thing about a communications degree is its versatility. Entertain the different opportunities that arise and don't be afraid to try something new. The lessons I learned in the classroom have been a valuable resource for me each step of the way.   

    Link: www.zendesk.com  


    Melissa Kranzler, 2007 

    CST Emphasis and Minor: Organizational and Professional Communication, minor in Psychology  

    Additional Education: I am now a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer so I attended a 16 week academy, as well as 6 additional weeks of Spanish training. I have also attended advanced training in Harper's Ferry, VA.  

    Kranzler

    Current Position: U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer for the Department of Homeland Security. I work at the port of entry, inspecting people and vehicles as they seek entry into the United States. I worked in Calexico, CA for 2 years and then transferred to Blaine, WA. Since beginning my career with CBP, I have worked as a training officer and also in the intelligence unit for a brief period. I now focus a lot of my time on immigration law and visa adjudication, but my primary job is to facilitate traffic and people entering the United States, as well as to protect the U.S. from terrorism.  

    Past Employment: After graduation I moved to Southern California and worked briefly at KSWT Channel 13 out of Yuma, AZ. I was in the sales department. Shortly after beginning that job I was hired by the Imperial Valley Press newspaper as a reporter. I loved that job! It was a lot of fun and I loved meeting new people every day and talking to people. I applied with CBP because they were hiring in the area I was living in at the time and thought it would be a good career. I actually didn't think I would get hired, but I did and here I am now.  Advice to CST Students: My advice to current students is to do what you love. Follow your heart and find a career that you will want to have for 30 years. Take advantage of every opportunity the university has to offer. Get involved on campus and off campus. The lessons and skills you will learn and the friends you will meet are priceless. Travel while you can! Take a semester off to travel or do a semester abroad. And most important, have fun!   

    Link: www.cbp.gov and www.dhs.gov     


    Thomas Trehus, 2012  Tom T

    Majors: Triple major in Advocacy and Communication Criticism, Political Science, and Spanish  

    Current Position: Fellow with Montana Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee   

    Advice to CST Students: Do internships and use the connections from the internships to get a foot in the door for a job.  

    Link: www.montanademocrats.org


    Dani Peterslie, 2011  Peterslie

    CST Emphasis and Minor: Organizational & Professional Communication, minor in Recreation Management  

    Current Position: Event Coordinator at The Grand Hotel Ballroom. I manage a small reception hall that hosts smaller scale events. My duties include marketing and promoting the space, meeting with new clients, and ordering inventory.   

    Advice to CST Students: I would recommend doing an internship while still in school and volunteering for an organization that interests you. If it's your first job, it's not meant to be glamorous. Hard work really does pay off.  


    David Driscoll, 2008 CST Emphasis and Minor: Public Relations and Organizational Communication, minor in English 
    David

    Additional Education: Master of Business Administration, Marquette University  

    Current Position: Assistant Vice President, Branch Manager, BMO Harris Bank. I am responsible for the administration and daily operation of a full service branch, including operations, lending, product sales, customer service, and security in accordance with the bank's objectives.  

    Past Employment: Personal Banker, M&I Bank; Assistant Branch Manager, M&I Bank  

    Advice to CST Students: The world is constantly changing.  Help through leading change in a field you are passionate about, and continue to seek education and knowledge with every phase of your life.  

    Link: www.bmoharris.com


    Joel Manning, 2011  

    Joel

    Major and Minor: Marketing Major, minor in Organizational and Professional Communication   

    Current Position: Producer at Richter Studios, a video production firm based in Chicago. My position as a producer or project manager is a combination of integrated marketing, creative direction, and project management. Richter Studios is in the business of building brand awareness, growing customer bases and product/service loyalty through exceptional commercial/brand film/corporate video experiences. I manage a production team that consists of cinematographers, photographers, video editors, animators and graphic designers that all work together to create top of the line marketing content for our clients.  

    Past Employment: Internship at CenturyLink in La Crosse as a market development intern.  

    Advice to CST Students: Have confidence in your major.  I didn't realize the extreme importance of communication in the workplace until now. Every single job involves and thrives on some sort of communication. Don't underestimate the importance of effective communication in both getting a job and excelling at that job.     

    Link: www.richterstudios.com


    Devon van Tyn, May 2012

    Double Major: Interpersonal Communication and Spanish  

    van Tyn

    Current Position: I am a Bilingual Receptionist for Mercy Urbandale Aurora Clinic, which involves entering and verifying eligibility of insurance, registration and scheduling, occasional translation of documents to Spanish, assisting non-English speaking Hispanics with paperwork, registration, and appointment management. I make occasional follow up calls to Hispanic non-English speaking patients.  

    Advice to CST Students: Look at the skills and gifts you have been given and then broaden your job search to include positions not related to your major. Be patient with yourself and your career.   

    Link: www.mercydesmoines.org