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Get ting that perfect job is like hit ting your target. It’s a challenge at first. You need to learn the right skills, build up your strength, work hard, and keep your eyes open. It doesn’t always work out in the beginning, and missing can be painful and discouraging. But don’t despair:

Volume One’s special jobs section is here to give you the resources, statistics, and advice you need to pull back the bowstring, take careful aim, and send your occupational arrow sailing toward the bull’s-eye.

W R ITE R S Christina Berchini & Tom Giffey • E D ITO R S Tom Giffey & Eric Christenson • D E S I G N Serena Wagner




rue to its moniker, the Baby Boom generation is still making noise. This time, it’s in the local and national labor market. If you listen closely, the rumble you hear is the tectonic shift of this massive generation – which makes up about 30 percent of today’s workforce – entering retirement. Nationwide, 10,000 Boomers turn 65 every single day. This cascade is turning the rumble into a roar, creating challenges and opportunities for workers and employers alike. “If you just look at the raw number

retirement of Baby Boomers creates opportunities – and problems – for younger Chippewa Valley workers

“If you just look at the raw number of working age adults, there’s going to be a huge supply-demand employers



issue going

that to


experiencing, and some of them of working-age adults, there’s going to be a huge supply-demand issue that employers are going to be experiencing, and some of them are experiencing now,” explains Jennifer Owen, direc-

tor of the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Eau Claire County. Owen says nearly one in four Eau Claire County residents are 60 years of age or older – and the county’s demographics actually skew younger than most other parts of Wisconsin because of the concentration of college students here. By 2050, Owen says, the share of the county population 65 and older will have grown 75 percent, while the share of people 25 to 54 will have grown only 2 percent. On one hand, the aftermath of this demographic tidal wave should offer some smooth sailing for Millenials, many of whom have struggled to find jobs in recent years. (According to nonpartisan advocacy group Generation Opportunity, the unemployment rate for 18- to 29-year-olds was 13.8 percent in April when people who had given up looking for work were included.) Aging Boomers will leave many jobs vacant, while other jobs will be created to care for the graying population. On the other hand, vacancies are often – and will continue to be – in higher-level jobs

are experiencing now.” Jennifer Owen, director, Aging & Disability Resource Center of Eau Claire County

requiring skills that took Baby Boomers years to gain. “Personally I’d like to think this is a really great opportunity for people to be passing on their knowledge to the younger workforce,” Owen says, “but I think there is a lot of intergenerational conflict that still exists.” Owen, who recently gave a presentation about the aging workforce sponsored by the Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corp., says employers need several strategies to deal with the demographic shift and the resulting conflicts. First, employers can offer incentives and flexibility to older workers to entice them to stay on the job past retirement age, she says. Secondly, employers need to encourage education

C O N T I N U E D O N PA G E 4 6

TO P 1 0 HAR D -TO - FI LL P OS ITI O NS I N TH E VA LLE Y 1. Registered nurses 2. Welders 3. Computer numerican controlrelated 4. Software/IT 5. Certified nursing assistants

6. Drivers (with commercial license) 7. Physician assistants 8. Maintenance 9. Machinists 10. Physicians

Department of Workforce Development survey results, 2014

HOT JO B S FO R 2020 I N WE ST- CE NTR A L WISCO NS I N 1. Registered nurses 2. Truck drivers 3. Customer service reps 4. Welders, cutters, solderers 5. Supervisors/managers of office/administrative workers

6. Insurance sales agents 7. Accountants/auditors 8. Machinists 9. Medical secretaries 10. Human resources, labor relations, and training specialists

West Central Workforce Development Areas Occupational Projections, 2010-2020 44 July 22, 2015 45 July 22, 2015


Students and employers mingle at a UW-Eau Claire job fair

and mentorship for younger workers who will fill the jobs left open by retiring Boomers. These retirements leave “big shoes to fill,” says Renee Melton, a client service manager in Eau Claire with Adecco, an international staffing agency. “A lot of our retiring employees wore multiple hats from having so much experience under their belts,” Melton says.

“As companies look to backfill these if volunteer work or unpaid internships positions, they may have to hire two to are their only options, unemployed or three people to compensate for what underemployed workers should keep some of these people did because the their resumes full, he says. Younger inexperienced worker isn’t going to be workers can also keep an eye on which seasoned enough to take on everything professions have the most openings in the retiring person could.” However, she the Chippewa Valley; such data tracked says, job duties may also be split among annually by the Regional Skills Gap multiple workers. “If you’re just enter- Initiative (see accompanying chart). ing the workforce and want to move While she agrees that the aging ahead in the company you’re working workforce should present big opporfor,” Melton adds, “you’re going to need tunities for young workers, Owen of to be flexible with job duties and look the Aging & Disability Resource Center for those opportunities to help out.” notes that this isn’t always the case – at Scott Hodek, a labor market econ- least anecdotally. Owen surmises this omist with the state Department of may be because the kinds of jobs creWorkforce Development, believes men- ated because of an aging population toring and succession – in home health care, for planning are a must for example – are demanding businesses impacted professions that don’t pay by retiring Boomers. particularly well and thus “What we’re going to may not be attractive to see is unprecedented many younger workers. placement rate for UWEC promotional opporOne the whole, howgrads after six months tunities, which for a ever, the combination of worker is great,” he Baby Boomers leaving the says. “For a business job market and a growing that hasn’t been suceconomy means the outcession planning for look is generally positive this, you’re going to for job-seekers, especialhave some problems.” ly those just getting out median salary for those While businesses of school: the National UWEC grads should have been planAssociation of Colleges ning for this eventualand Employers says its ity five to 10 years ago, Hodek says, the hiring projection for job-hunters with day of reckoning was delayed by the bachelor’s degrees grew 9.6 percent Great Recession: Many Baby Boomers over last year. Meanwhile, recent grads who would have otherwise retired – the of UW-Eau Claire have a 96 percent first wave of them hit 65 in 2011 – stayed placement rate and a median salary at work to rebuild their shrunken retire- of $43,854, says Staci Heidtke, UWEC’s ment accounts. Now, however, more of associate director of Career Services. them are retiring, which means the size “Young job-seekers have an opporof the labor market is barely growing tunity to step in and be in the driver’s or is standing still in some Wisconsin seat with employers – as long as they counties. develop the skills needed to do the job So what can job hunters – especially and perform at a high level,” Heidtke those just entering the job market – says. “Young job-seekers face great job do to take advantage of the situation? growth and opportunity, especially for Hodek advises that these people avoid those college-educated workers. Skills gaps in their résumés, which can be a that are in demand include communicaturn-off for potential employers. Even tion, leadership, and critical thinking.”


$44K 46 July 22, 2015



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‘ I ’M G L AD YOU FIR E D ME .’ losing an internship at age 20 has provided valuable life-long lessons WORDS: CHRISTINA BERCHINI


oday will be your last day.” These words randomly emerged from the recesses of my memory the other night. I was washing dishes and listening to a TED Talk. I was not feeling particularly nostalgic that evening, or thinking about anyone or anything in particular. My memory rewound further to that moment of elation when I received your email offering me the internship. It paid $10 an hour and, given my field, I knew that any pay would impress my professors. I then found myself fast-forwarding to the scene in which I left that Park Avenue building for the last time, crying as I called my mother from the pay phone to tell her I had been let go. These bookend memories brought their friends from the years in between to crash my peaceful, boring-adult party of kitchen upkeep. “Today will be your last day.” Every bit of context surrounding those words swarmed together to form that grand finale in which, as a nervous 20-year-old, I sat on one side of the glossy boardroom table, while you and your colleague – I think his name was Martin – sat on the other. I had mostly worked under your auspices, but on occasion Martin and others would assign me menial tasks. I tearfully gripped my iced tea as the reality set in. I was being fired from my first internship. And it is with these embarrassing memories that I looked you up recently, out of pure curiosity. I wondered where you were in life. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that, after investing such

a large portion of your life into corporate America, you not only climbed the ladder; you redesigned the ladder. It seems you started calling your own shots. And that’s pretty cool. But the truth is, I also Googled your name with something of a humble goal: I want to thank you for firing me for being a horrible employee 14 years ago. You implicitly taught me a number of life lessons I wasn’t learning in any of my overpriced college courses. The internal conversations I had after being kicked out of my tiny little cubicle that summer included dialogue that should routinely find its way into the college classroom. It is with the following list that I wish to both apologize for my performance and thank you for firing me. Had you never fired me, I’m not sure that I would have made the changes necessary to perform well at the following summer’s internship in public relations (yes, someone else actually hired me) or, really, any of the professional endeavors that followed. Failing my first internship taught me many things. Here are just a few: 1. Everyone is your boss. It does not matter who is assigning a task. Everyone is your boss. 2. There is value in creating tasks for myself in the event that I was not given enough to do. This taught me how to take

initiative and to investigate the dilemma of not knowing what I do not know. 3. The importance of taking notes and asking questions can’t be overstated. 4. If an overpopulated and slow elevator might make one late to work, arrive a few minutes early. Or, take the stairs. 5. Following the elevator fiasco, you taught me that 9:05am, or worse yet, 9:10am, is indeed considered “late.” Moreover, arriving at 8:55am is probably closer to being on time than arriving at 9am on the nose. Arriving at 8:40? Even better. 6. I learned that it is not permissible to leave an hour early without asking, even if it is my birthday. (I really have no idea what I was thinking, with this one. There is no excuse for leaving the office early without expressed permission from your employer and no, not even if it’s your birthday, and no, not even if your boyfriend surprises you by showing up at your job. He’ll have to wait that final hour at the very least.) You didn’t start out intending to teach me these rules of professionalism. I learned only after our meeting in that boardroom that I should have done some things differently. The skills you taught me have been applicable in every job I’ve had since. I now teach my college students what you taught me, and I hope they’re listening. For firing me and encouraging me to find myself, you became one of my biggest inspirations. Christina Berchini is an assistant professor of English at UW-Eau Claire. She blogs frequently at her own website ( as well as at the Huffington Post and, where this essay original appeared in December. To find out what happened after she contacted the woman who fired her, find her blog on 49 July 22, 2015

SAV V Y SECR ETS FOR JOB -HU NTE R S We talked to Chippewa Valley experts about what it takes to land the job you want. STACI HEIDTKE |

Associate director of Career Services, UW-Eau Claire

Q: What common mistakes do job-seekers make when assessing the local job market? A: Many job-seekers look at job postings and underestimate their ability to do a job. Perhaps it is because the position is in an industry they lack experience in or the position is not exactly in the area they were educated in. Those job-seekers should focus on the transferable skills they could bring to the position. Many employers are happy to teach a specific skill if the employee is a hard worker, easy to work with, a strong communicator and has grit. Job-seekers don’t always market their skills and abilities as well as they could. They should have a 30-second pitch to offer employers, including experience and education that makes them a good fit for a position. List past work history on a résumé, even if it seems to be unrelated to the job you are applying for. This allows the employer to understand your transferable skills when making hiring decisions. Q: Nationwide, younger workers face a much higher unemployment rate than older workers. What can and should younger workers be doing to increase their chances of finding employment? A: Not enough job-seekers access the hidden job market. Many jobs are filled by word-of-mouth and on the recommendation of a trusted colleague or employee. I encourage people to get out and visit employers, and talk to hiring managers about their ideal employee. Gaining that insight helps the job-seeker to understand the daily responsibilities for a position, or how that position contributes to the success of an organization. Conduct an informational interview or shadow someone working for an employer you find interesting or in a profession you are interested in. When doing this, ask your contacts for names of other people you should meet. This is a chance to expand your network and learn more about the local job market – especially to learn about current or future openings.


Client service manager, eBay Enterprise Wisconsin for Adecco

Q: What common mistakes do job-seekers make when assessing the local job market? A: They don’t see the potential in the opportunities. Not every job is going to start out as your dream job. You have to sometimes be willing to start at the bottom and work your way up. If you can find a company who cares about its employees and it’s future, that will invest in you as a person, and that offers you the opportunity to work really hard towards your ultimate goal then you should go for it and stop limiting yourself because of an ideal in your head. Its easy to say that pay doesn’t matter, because for most people they need that paycheck at the end of the week, but it’s also important to keep the bigger picture in mind. Q: Nationwide, younger workers face a much higher unemployment rate than older workers. What can and should younger workers be doing to increase their chances of finding employment? It goes back to what I said about seeing the potential in opportunities. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to a number of recent grads, and I always worry when I get the sense that they feel like a diploma equals dream job. That’s likely not the case. And I get it. It’s frustrating. You invest all this time and money into getting a degree and then you may have to still start at the bottom. No one goes into a degree program thinking they’re going to walk out the door into something entry level. But the reality is, they may have to just to get a foot in the door and make ends meet in the meantime. Additionally, our culture has developed into one that relies heavily on electronic communication and it sets the expectation that you can want everything right now, and get it. When it comes to building a career, those things don’t apply. Getting a job isn’t advancing to the next level in a video game, it’s not deciding on a whim that you want the newest gadget, ordering it off eBay and getting it the next day. Building a career takes grit, it takes work, and it takes people skills – regardless of the field you’re in. Younger workers can learn a ton from the more experienced worker when it comes to building relationships and communicating with people. 50 July 22, 2015 51 July 22, 2015

Profile for Volume One Magazine

Where the Jobs Are 2015  

Volume One's special section on employment in the Chippewa Valley.

Where the Jobs Are 2015  

Volume One's special section on employment in the Chippewa Valley.

Profile for volumeone