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UW-Superior alum, Dawn Johnson, completed her bachelor of arts degree in Psychology, obtained a human resource generalist certificate, and pursued a job at Essentia Health, working as a Staff Development Specialist. She will soon be finishing up her studies at the College of St. Scholastica and graduating with a master's degree of arts in Management and Business Administration.
Even from a young age, Johnson was always interested in psychology because she was curious about people. She wanted to know why they did the things they did, and what the source of their motivation was for them. Her studies in college allowed her to look deeper into these ideas, and her job with Essentia Health allows her to daily apply what she learned in everyday situations.
Though she has a wide range of job responsibilities at work as a Development Specialist, a lot of Johnson's duties are related to effectively transitioning and orientating people into new job positions. She does, however, get the opportunity to work on many different tasks, so her work requirements change from day to day. This is one of the aspects of her job that Johnson really enjoys. Sometimes her schedule will change in the middle of the day, so it is necessary for her to be flexible and to be able to change what she is doing on a moment's notice. For someone who likes a strict daily schedule, this would not be a suitable job.
Johnson acknowledges that there are certainly challenges to her job, but that is one facet of her position that she actually embraces. It is part of her job to work with people who are put into stressful situations and struggling to cope with them. Her training throughout school allowed for her to understand these types of difficult situations and how to best manage them. She knows the importance of being comfortable dealing with these matters, and the longer she is on the job, the more refined her skills to work effectively in these situations will become.
In order to be qualified for a similar job to Johnson's, it is necessary to have at least a bachelor's degree in a closely related field. It is also important to have some sort of experience working within the areas that are likely to parallel with the professional career. In this case, it would be experience in things such as educational programming and working to help groups of people.
Johnson certainly found her niche with her work at Essentia Health, and her continuous drive to help others contributes greatly to her success. "I have a passion for developing people and helping organizations grow," Johnson comments. Her hard work does not go unnoticed, and Johnson recently earned the "20 under 40 Award," which honors twenty young members of the community, under the age of forty, who show a strong sense of leadership in their jobs. It is surely her understanding of other people and her desire for improvement within the workplace that contribute to the positive development of her company and her qualification for this award.
Even though it may not seem obviously relevant to this type of job, Johnson would encourage students to consider adding psychology into part of their education for work in this type of field. There is a demand from the job to understand people, and a thorough knowledge in psychology will provide a solid foundation for this. Johnson also advises balancing this education with another degree in a business related field, such as management, in order to get the best preparation possible for a similar career to hers.
Johnson would also advise students towards looking for ways to get involved with groups that prove strong leadership qualities, since this is an important aspect to any job that is obtained. A good way to go about doing this is by getting involved in a professional organization. By doing this you are killing two birds with one stone by both gaining experience in a position of leadership, as well as networking with professionals who can connect you to the right people, in order to help you in the pursuit of your career goals.
Dawn Johnson was interviewed as a part of the Career Services Day in the Life project. Her full interview and those of other UW-Superior alumni can be found on the Day in the Life website, http://www.uwsuper.edu/career/students/a-day-in-the-life.cfm.
Interview conducted by Kara Tudor on November 20, 2012. Article written by Kristen Jasperson.
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