In her more than twenty years with Career Services, Vicki Decker has shared highs and lows with thousands of students and alumni. Through booms and busts, the successes outweigh the disappointments, with more than 90 percent of new graduates consistently finding work and internships or entering graduate school.

Decker, who was named director of Career Services in 1996, has been innovative in her approach. Winona State was the first university in Minnesota to offer online services, and the current website (www.winona.edu/career) is a rich resource for job seekers. Career Services has also implemented a four-year development model, reaching out to students when they first arrive on campus, instead of focusing services only toward juniors and seniors.  

Decker discusses how alumni and new graduates can make their way in the current employment environment.

Our total employment rate – 92.4 percent for 2008-09 graduates – has fared well. That’s dropped about two percent from the previous year, which is reflective of general economic and recruiting trends.

We’re off to an optimistic start in 2011. Data show that employers plan to increase hires of new graduates by 13 percent nationally, and by 20 percent in the Midwest.

The top majors? In the Midwest, it’s accounting, finance, business administration and management, engineering, and computer sciences. All of those are offered at Winona State.

Communications, a strong work ethic, analytical and problem solving, teamwork – those are the skills employers tell us they’re seeking in new employees, no matter the major.

For new graduates:  start early. Understand how to translate your degree to your desired career, maintain a 3.0 GPA, participate in campus activities and leadership, get related experience through service, internships, and/or part-time work.

For alumni, communication skills are paramount. Understand what the employer wants. Demonstrate your experience and how it’s made a difference. Many positions are never advertised, so nurture your networks. Social networking is a critical resource – for the candidate and the employer.

Alumni still have access to free online career services. They can simply call us to re-activate the account they had when they were students at Winona State.

We are available to assist alumni one-on-one. We can help with search preparation, resume and letter review, interview skills, and other services on both the Rochester and Winona campuses.

A degree makes a difference …

Unemployment Rate             Degree Level           Mean Earnings*
2.5                                         Doctorate                   $113,455
3.9                                         Master’s                       $83,371
5.2                                         Bachelor’s                    $71,044
6.8                                         Associate’s                   $48,534
8.6                                         Some College               $46,168
9.7                                         High School                 $40,175
14.6                                       Less than high school   $31,121

*Unemployment and earnings for year-round, full-time workers aged 25 and over
Sources:  Bureau of the Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics