U grads meet uncertain future

Robyn Repya

After five tough years at the University, Chad Greenwaldt, a Russian history senior, is graduating. He worked his way through school, sometimes holding three jobs at a time.

Getting through college wasn’t always easy, Greenwaldt said of paying for the majority of his own education.

“You like knowing you can do it on your own,” he said.

Greenwaldt started school at the University in 1997 with the intention of becoming a teacher. But after watching the job market and direction of education as a profession shift during his time in college, he is now graduating with his future up in the air.

Greenwaldt said paying for school on his own has shown he is committed and dedicated enough to get what he wants in life and has made his education more valuable.

With this added value has come hardship. He said his grades suffered because at times he had to work up to 50 hours per week while going to school. He also had to take a semester off to pay his tuition.

“The ‘U’ of ‘M’ likes you to pay your tuition on time,” Greenwaldt said.

Right now, he’s holding down two jobs while finishing his final semester.

The senior works approximately 25 hours per week at a loading dock and also works two nights per week at a condominium complex downtown.

Greenwaldt said he’s chosen to do without all the pomp and circumstance of graduation – he’s just glad to be done.

“I’ve gone a year longer than I should have been, so I’m not into the whole festivities thing,” he said.

He said he’d want to focus on current issues as a high school teacher because when he was in high school his instructors always skimmed over current events.

Upon graduation, however, the financial reality facing teachers in Minnesota has caused him to change his mind.

“I’m not going to make the cash I want,” he said.

Greenwaldt said his decision to not go into teaching was made with Gov. Jesse Ventura’s education funding cuts.

“Teachers don’t get paid what they’re worth,” he said, “I want to have a job I enjoy but also one that pays me what I’m worth.”

Roland Peterson, University professor and head of agricultural education, said he also thinks teachers deserve better pay but most people go into teaching knowing they could make more doing something else.

“There’s an awful lot of rewards knowing you helped kids achieve,” Peterson said.

He said several teaching jobs are available for graduating seniors despite the state’s budget cuts.

“Right now we’ve got way more positions open than people to fill them,” Peterson said.

He said teaching salaries get better the longer someone sticks with it.

Peterson said he started teaching 42 years ago, with a starting salary of $5,000. He said he still keeps in contact with a student he had 40 years ago, and that’s what teaching is about for him.

“He could have forgotten me a long time ago. I’d like to think I made a difference in his life,” he said.

In an attempt to get more information about the job search process and see what his options are, Greenwaldt attended a liberal arts and history department career fair last Friday.

Paul Timmins, Career and Community Learning Center lead career coordinator, said the job market is tight but students are still getting jobs.

“You have to be assertive and use a variety of job search techniques,” he said.

Timmins said it’s important for students to use experiences from past jobs and classes to showcase applied skills for employers.

“Your major gives you some sort of unique experience, and you need to be able to explain that,” he said.

Greenwaldt said he’s not in a hurry to find his first career-related job right away. He said right now he’s just looking for a full-time job to pay the bills.

“I want to get everything paid off,” he said.

When he does search for his first major post-college job, Greenwaldt said, he will most likely try to find a government job with an educational program or work in a museum.

He said during his job search he will keep important advice from his father in mind.

“You want to have a job you like to go to every day,” Greenwaldt said.

Robyn Repya welcomes comments at [email protected]