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SAU Graduates Achieve Jobs After Graduation

The SAU graduation class of 2023 is excited to begin the next steps in their lives. Most graduates have decided to seek employment within their particular majors. Raymond ONeill, a double major in forensic psychology and criminal justice said, “I work at Vera French in the Habilitation homes, and it has been awesome working there. It’s nice to work in your field while you are in college since it makes you more qualified later on.”

Yaz Perez poses for a picture after receiving her cultural stole.

Seniors say they are grateful for the help that SAU provided and are excited to start the next steps in their lives. Yaz Perez, who is a Spanish major with minors in Leadership and Marketing will start her job as a Freshman Admissions Counselor at Lewis University. “I’m super excited! I knew I wanted to have a career in higher education, so I started looking at different positions in higher education. As a Hispanic woman and a first-generation college student, I value helping other underrepresented students and families. My goal is to help realize their potential for self-development through group living and campus involvement.”

Participating within the Quad Cities and engaging with SAU alumnus have helped students secure jobs within their careers. “I now have a job at the Family Museum in Bettendorf. I found out about the opening when I toured the museum for the Art Historical Methods/Careers course I had at Ambrose with Terri Switzer,” said Savannah Smith, who is majoring in Art Education and Art History and will be going Western Illinois University Graduate School to get her Masters in Museum Studies.

Perez is thankful for the resources that SAU has to offer in ensuring that she has a job within her career after graduation. “Definitely talk to your professors, staff, mentors, career center, etc. There are many resources on campus to help you, but you have to be willing to seek that help.” 

The SAU Academic and Career Planning Center is a resource with many tools for all students, especially seniors, to help with their future plans. “The resources in the career center such as mock interviews, career fairs, resume reviews, and our 1:1 appointments can help bring together all of a student’s experiences as well as begin to practice the skills needed for life after graduation,” says Lindsay Adolphs, executive director of the Academic and Career Planning office. 

The SAU Academic and Career Center also helps students prepare for their jobs once they get offered a position. The National Association of Colleges and Employers states, “There are eight career readiness competencies, each of which can be demonstrated in a variety of ways: career and self-development, communication, critical thinking, equailty and inclusion, leadership, professionalism, teamwork, and technology.”

Advising sessions with 1:1 professor and student appointments are beneficial so the professor can see what the student’s goals and future endeavors are. “I work with students and try to see what they are interested in. Then, I would make those connections and place the student in a place that is a really good fit for them, personality-wise and also interest-wise,” says Terri Switzer, director of Art History and Museum Studies Programs. 

As SAU graduates seek their ideal jobs, they can practice their interviewing skills. Jennifer Best, department coordinator of psychology explains, “Interviewing skills are really important. Students need to practice explaining specific situations where they have learned and used skills in classes, co-curricular activities, summer jobs, sports, etc.  It takes most students a while to learn to interview well, so practice, practice, practice.”

Best further discusses how a person’s resume for the interview is extremely important. She says, “Resumes are the ‘first impression’ that employers will have and so students need to be sure they are well-written and accurately and positively represent their experiences. Employers want students who not only know the content of the degree but can explain and use the content in practical ways.”

SAU students are learning the importance of strong soft skills that reflect their working abilities. “The hard skills come from your major, but companies are looking for soft skills. John Deere doesn’t even ask you one technical question, all they ask are soft skills,” Mohamad El-Zein, chair of the engineering department said. 

Sometimes there are jobs and companies that are seeking employees that have more than their degree and soft skills. Katrina Browning, an Interim Associate Dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences says, “Some work experience, like an internship in a health care setting in another role can sometimes be helpful. The main qualification beyond the degree is successfully completing the licensing exam – NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination).”

A lot of SAU majors require an internship credit for every student to help ensure success after graduation. “For our Music Education degree, our students take courses in the Music and Education departments to prepare them for the skills they need to teach, as well as observation hours throughout their four years, culminating in a student-teaching experience in their last semester (similar to any other internship),” explains Nathan Windt, director of music choral activities. 

Hands-on experience has been a vital component for seniors who are finding the right jobs for them. “Ambrose does a great job with getting students out in the field of the major to do hands-on work,” expressed Erin Robertson, who is a Music Education Major with a Vocal concentration, and who has been hired by the Durant Community Schools District.

For the majority of SAU graduates of 2023, they say that they are excited to graduate from St. Ambrose University and begin their new adventures.