Life of a student after UWP

For many graduating students, finding a career can be exciting yet frustrating.  This is something that Richard Heyer, a University of Wisconsin-Platteville Alumni of May 2012, felt.

Richard, a Waterford resident who majored in biology with an ecology emphasis and environmental science minor, was eager to find a career. However, finding a career immediately after graduation can be difficult.

“I had this idea in my head about my ideal job and how much money I would make,” Heyer said. “But, in reality, I wasn’t the only graduate looking for the same ‘ideal job.’”

Not only was Heyer seeking a career for nearly seven months after graduation, he was also dealing with paying student loans and working a full-time job at Lynch GM Superstore Dealership in Burlington.  Heyer said his frustrations and concerns about developing his career became worrisome.

“It seems like we were trained to get a diploma, go to college, graduate and get our dream job,” Heyer said.  “But that’s a perfect world, and I was getting to the point where I was going to settle for less to work myself up.”

After much contemplation, Heyer said he remembered why he initially went into this industry.

“Living on a farm was the main reason why I came to Platteville to study biology,” Heyer said.  “With a strong passion for a healthier future, I wanted to be a contributing factor to a new generation with environmental friendly and renewable resources that would help form a better life for my kids and grandkids one day.”

After months of applying for positions, Heyer received an interview at Balestrieri Environmental in Elkorn, where he accepted a position as a project coordinator.  His position includes following up on proposals for his clients on environmental or health concerns and removing those concerns by assisting the project managers on that particular issue.  The environmental hazards can include issues in anything from factories to apartments, hospitals, schools, mold remediation and chemical accidents.

After landing a position at this company, Heyer said he realized that good things come in time.  Though Heyer has a strong educational background he has acquired over time at UW-Platteville, he strongly advises the graduates not to stress over getting a career immediately out of college.

“If you don’t find a job related to your degree right away, that’s alright,” Heyer said.  “Having a substitute job in the meantime is important, especially when those student loans kick in.”

He also advises the graduates to talk about career goals and educational backgrounds with friends, co-workers and family members.  Heyer said he strongly believes that the word-of-mouth aspect is huge in career paths – the more people that know about your goals and educational background, the more likely they are to know people who can help you achieve those goals through connections.

“I was discouraged at first,” Heyer said, “but now I’m glad that I waited it out because this is my ideal career.”