“In this job the answer is not given to us, we have to figure it out on our own. These hands-on experiences helped greatly in learning to apply myself.”
-Kelsey Kotecki, UW La Crosse alumna working for Superior Fresh
Young professionals are a vital component of Wisconsin’s workforce and economy. The UW System continually works to ensure that students are prepared to enter the workplace and meet the needs of employers upon graduation.
This week, the UW System joins the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the rest of the state in celebrating Young Professionals Week (YP Week). YPWeek recognizes the contributions young professionals make in Wisconsin – and many of them developed their skills and knowledge on a UW System campus.
The UW System graduates more than 36,500 degree-holders every year, contributing more than $41 million each and every day to our economy. However, data shows that over the next 30 years, 95% of Wisconsin’s population growth will be people age 65 and older, while the state’s working age population between the ages of 18 and 64 is projected to remain essentially flat.
The UW System remains focused on creating the best educational opportunities possible to provide students with the experience, skills, and knowledge they need to have an immediate impact in our current and future economy and workforce. To that end, a goal in the UW System’s 2020FWD strategic framework is to provide every student with the opportunity to experience at least two high-impact learning practices, including internships and undergraduate research. Every time a student interns with a Wisconsin employer, the likelihood they will stay in Wisconsin state increases because internships often turn into job offers.
Students in the biology department at UW La Crosse are preparing to enter the workforce as young professionals through a partnership with Superior Fresh, an aquaponics facility just outside of Northfield, WI. UW La Crosse alumna Kelsey Kotecki discovered the company in 2017 at the UWL Science Career Forum, an annual event that helps UWL students discover lab science-related careers and internships in the region. She is now a full-time lab technician in the company’s fish and greenhouse.
About eighty-five percent of UW System students stay in Wisconsin after graduation, raising their families and keeping Wisconsin a great place to live and work. We will continue to focus on a quality education, and we are proud UW-related internships create a meaningful job experience for many young professionals across our state.
Dr. Ray Cross is the seventh president of the University of Wisconsin System. He also served as Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Colleges and University of Wisconsin–Extension from 2011-2014. Cross served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam and was awarded four medals for his service.