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Olin Hall, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Graduate Career Services

Alumni Spotlight - Kara Zwieg

Current Job Title -  Academic Advisor
Name of Organization -  University of Denver
Undergraduate Degree -  Bachelor of Science, Biology and Spanish, University of Wisconsin at La Crosse
Graduate Degree - Master of Arts, Counseling Psychology

Kara Zwieg

Interview

What does your current position entail? 

I help undergraduate students understand what classes to take, navigate academic policies, boost their GPA, plan for graduation, and much more. I also oversee the academic advising for Daniels Fund Scholars and Denver Scholarship recipients.

How did you get your current position?

I applied to this position after seeking opportunities to engage in current, practical experience in academic advising and also educating myself about student life at DU through networking. Besides me taking initiative to prepare myself for the position, my Masters in counseling psychology prepared me for the job itself.

In relation to graduation, when did you start the job search and when did you secure your position?

It may seem early, but I started my job search back in September of my last year of grad school. The reason I say that is because I started networking at that time. I knew I wanted to work in higher education, so I took the opportunity to meet with multiple individuals in the field. I would meet with various individuals from many different departments to establish relationships with them and also educate myself in my field of interest. I started applying for jobs in January of my graduation year and secured my position in June of my graduation year. It was a long process, but very insightful.

In regards to the job search process, did anything surprise you?

For my sake, the competitive nature of the higher education field was surprising to me. I was also astounded by the number of applicants and also the extent of qualification.

What recommendations do you have for current students?

Don't be discouraged by rejection letters! They exist and can be pretty common these days!

What's the strangest interview question you were ever asked? How did you respond?

I was asked something on the lines of what is your theory regarding academic advising? My initial thought was, huh? I had previous academic advising experience, but never thought of a theory behind it. I was caught off guard, but then remembered the advice of a friend who encouraged me to use my counseling background and my experience in advising. I was able to provide a response that showed my knowledge in various basic counseling theories and also supporting people academically.

Which aspects of your background have been most helpful in your current position?

The rigor of and involvement in my undergraduate work and my training as a mental health counselor has been by far the most helpful experiences. It helps me relate to students and also be able to communicate with them in an effective way.

If you were in your graduate program again, what would you do differently, if anything?

I would have sought out an internship that was more focused on my interests versus the first internship that I found. Looking back, I feel as though I settled on what internship I accepted. Retrospectively, it was a good experience, but I struggled to enjoy it in the moment.

Any additional comments for current students?

What you study does not have to be literally translated to what you become. For instance, my degrees are in biology, Spanish, and counseling psychology. Am I a biologist, Spanish teacher, or mental health counselor? Not at all. I encourage students to pull what they enjoy from their studies and explore ways to embrace those aspects and also cater to who you are as a person. Find what you enjoy and run with it!