Preparing students for the “age of the gig”

By Kinsey Johnson

NPR’s lead education blogger speaks of the changes in today’s increasingly priced higher education, and the impacts choices after college can have on a planetary level.

Anya Kamenetz spoke optimistically to her audience of about 150 students and locals on March 6 in UW-Eau Claire’s Schofield Auditorium. Kamenetz discussed the shift in working Americans from the “age of the job to the age of the gig,” stating that the average worker in America now has only been in their job for about four years. With projects and income becoming more unpredictable for the average worker, the pressure to pay off student loans rises as well.

Kamenetz is a New York City writer and graduate from Yale University. She’s been the lead education blogger at NPR since 2014 and has published several books regarding education. Her forum was revolved around “Generation Debt,” a book Kamenetz published 12 years ago at age 25.  

“We have to be really fiercely optimistic and hopeful,” Kamenetz said. “You have to actively create and imagine a future you do want.” Kamenetz spoke positively about the idea of branching out after college and jumping from “gig” to “gig.”

Allison Blechinger was an audience member at the forum and is a junior at UW-Eau Claire majoring in psychology. “I just thought it was really interesting that she brought up the fact it’s more and more common for people to change their jobs often, ” Blechinger said. “It was surprisingly hopeful, because I don’t really know what I want to do after I graduate yet.”

Kamenetz spoke liberally of the rise in college tuition, stating that costs of universities can continue to increase because people can continue to take out loans for it, inevitably increasing student debt. “We have this problem on a personal level, we have it on a national level. And there’s even a planetary level,” Kamenetz said, referring to global warming. She urged her audience to consider the impact of the work that they are doing or are becoming educated to do. “[your jobs] fit into an ecosystem and a vision,” Kamenetz said. She spoke of the society’s need for change as she reminded her audience to think of the “bigger picture impact.”

Charles Johnson was another audience member at the forum, as well as a sophomore at UW-Eau Claire double majoring in journalism and political science. “I loved the way she spoke about finding a job that can actually make a difference in our society,” Johnson said. “It made me really think about why I’m studying political science and how I want to better the world with it.”

Kamenetz spoke strongly about her faith and trust in newer generations, hopeful that young people will take a stand against some of the policies and patterns in current American society. “We don’t take no for an answer,” Kamenetz said.


Kamenetz speaks optimistically to her audience of about 150 students and locals of the Eau Claire area on Tuesday. 


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Job Shadow: Middle School Special Education Teacher.

By: Erin Gietman

carter wiley bucks

Rachel Fisher interacting with a student one-on-one. ©Erin Gietman 2018.

Teachers today undoubtedly have stressful jobs, but it is also a career that can be very rewarding. When you add students with disabilities into the mix, their jobs can be even tougher, but sometimes equally more gratifying. Rachel Fisher, a middle school special education teacher in the severely intellectually disabled class at James Madison Middle School in Appleton, WI, says although her job can be a challenge some days, there is nothing else she would rather be doing. Fisher graduated from UW-Stout in 2000 earning a degree in Vocational Rehabilitation with a concentration in teaching Mild to Moderate Cognitive Disabilities in grades 6 through 12. The term “intellectually disabled” is the new term used to describe individuals with severe cognitive disabilities, and while it is better than other terms often used to describe the kids she teaches, she feels it is a more derogatory term than the formerly used “cognitively disabled”. When asked about what it is like teaching kids with disabilities Fisher says, “We are so excited when we see them make the smallest accomplishments after many instances of modeling how to do something like using a communication device appropriately, or learning the routine to independently open their locker, and unpack their backpack without being told what to do. I have learned patience, persistence, and acceptance while doing this job, and how to see what people can do versus what they can’t. Most of all I’ve learned to see the person they are and not their disability.” It is obvious that Fisher loves not only her job, but the kids she teaches. It is important to spread awareness that people are more than just their disability, and allow the world to see these kids the way she sees them.

Fisher says her favorite part of her job is coming to work every day and making connections with her students. Being able to find students strengths and getting to know their personalities allows her to teach them in a way that suits their individual needs. Her classroom consists of 7 kids, Rachel the full-time teacher, 2 full time para-professionals who assist Fisher in the classroom, and another part time para-professional. Shadowing Fisher for the day gave me a new perspective on life, and the different struggles everybody faces. Although these kids are labeled intellectually disabled they are really just like most other middle school kids I met that day. Each with their own personality, likes and dislikes. It takes an incredibly strong person to be able to do this job every day, and Fisher is just one example of the many great teachers making a difference in the education system.


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Job Shadow

By Dylan Genrich

For my Job shadow I wanted to shadow someone in the journalism business, ideally a reporter or editor. I was very hopeful when I reached out to Eau Claire’s newspaper, Leader Telegram, asking whether it would be possible to job shadow someone from their office. To my delight I got a response from reporter Lauren French, Leader Telegram’s Education Reporter. She agreed to let me job shadow her one morning and I got the opportunity to see some of her roles in the office.

First she showed me how she managed the Facebook account for Leader Telegram. She did this by selecting stories that were written and posting them to Facebook on a timer. French explained that there were certain times during the day when social media traffic on Leader Telegram’s social media accounts spiked, usually in the mornings and late in the afternoon. By setting the stories to be published on a timer, she made sure that there was a steady stream of news coverage throughout the day.

Afterwards, I got to observe French putting together the senior page for the upcoming paper, which posed some unique challenges. One was finding news stories to put in the paper that related to the seniors. French said that given enough time, she would usually go and write a new story for the paper, but sadly, she didn’t have the time that week to seek one out. She then had to turn to a news wire for stories. She explained that a news wire was an aggregate of news stories from many different news publications.

Using the news wire, French could find stories by other papers for use at the Leader Telegram, within certain limitations.

Then French provided some tips for laying out the paper, such as smaller stories that used up less columns being at the top of the page, and centered to give the paper a balanced look. She also explained the importance of sub-headings for the particularly long stories, and how they helped break up a news story into smaller, more digestible chunks. Finally she kerned the lines of the story until the entire story fit into the allotted space, and the mock-up for the page was done.

I think I learned a lot during this job shadow about the importance of social media in the news, and how journalists have many tricks up their sleeves for designing page layouts. Seeing the process in action was invaluable to me, and I look forward to utilizing some of the tricks I learned in the future.

Interview with Lauren French:

JobShadow image

Reporter Lauren French busy at Leader Telegram

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Job Shadow: Andy and Rachael Dick, Hill- Properties Inc.

By: Meagan Weber

As a nursing major, I have job shadowed many different medical-field related jobs, so for this project I decided to do something a little different. That brought me to Andy and Rachael Dick, a couple with their own real-estate company, Hill-Properties Inc. based out of St. Paul, Minnesota.

I drove last weekend to the Dicks 10-bedroom mansion they are currently flipping together.  They graciously gave me a short tour of the home, where I was able to capture some very important information about the two of them.

The couple has known each other for 3 years and started their real estate business around the same time.  Rachael attended the University of Minnesota, and graduated with a degree in business and marketing, whereas Andy graduated from Marquette University with a degree in biomedical engineering.

Straight out of college Andy and his brother decided to start their own business called “Andy and Steve’s lawn and landscape.” Andy says he got bored with his landscaping business, so he established Hill-Properties Inc., where Rachael and Andy buy, remodel and rent short-and-long-term rentals.  I was curious as to why both of them got into the real estate business, and when questioned Rachael said, “we weren’t happy with the jobs we held at the time we met, so we decided to try real estate and we have been in love with flipping houses ever since.”  Andy added in saying there seems to be a stereotype for young college students and the fact they shouldn’t try things beyond their major, but he continued stating, “by truly stepping out of your comfort zone or more simply, finding something you love to do it will make life that much more enjoyable and rewarding.”

In a normal day at work, Andy and his construction team build, demolish and stage houses or apartments for renters-and-buyers, while Rachael stays back at the house and deals with the management side of things such as hiring the cleaning crews, evicting renters or helping book rentals properties out.  Not only do Andy and Rachael find houses to turn into rental properties, they have spent a good amount of time flipping houses as well.  Together, they have flipped and sold 2 houses in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area. Rachael says what she enjoys most about the job is welcoming people from out of state, giving them recommendations on things to do and building lasting relationships with a variety of people.

Spending the day with Andy and Rachael gave me hope for my future. The Dick’s taught me that no matter what I end up doing in life I should never stop chasing my dreams and trying new things. I walked away with the valuable lesson that stepping out of your comfort zone and building relationships is the key to success.


Rachael Dick in Downtown Saint Paul ©Meagan Weber 2018


The Dick’s first kitchen that they flipped together ©Rachael Dick 2016

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Job Shadow – Dylan Tinberg

A young, ambitious, and truly successful employee like Dylan Tinberg is in fact not a common sight. 20-year old full-time, cross-trained manager at Metropolis, one of Eau Claire’s best relieved the four-star resort, a student of the month at Chippewa Valley Technical Collage with aspiration to soon transfer to University of Wisconsin – Stout where he hopes to acquire a degree in his beloved field of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Although, Tinberg is primarily a hotel manager he is cross-trained, which means he is also qualified to perform many duties not listed in his original job description. That includes overseeing the guest accommodations as well as directly connected to them ball and conference rooms, a pub, Chaos waterpark, and Action City, which includes Wisconsin’s largest trampoline park, a zip line, multiple go-cart tracks, a mini golf course, a game arcade, and its newest addition – the virtual reality platform. “Metropolis is not an ordinary hotel,” he explained.

The casual leadership style practiced by Tinberg is certainly one of the reasons the atmosphere at Metropolis is relaxed and employees’ morale stay high, as despite being one of the highest ranged managers in the hotel he never confines himself to just office work. He is able to delegate both tasks as well as responsibilities while not abusing his power, instead, whenever possible, he joins the workforce himself. “On a busy night I like to throw an apron on and fry burgers side by side with my cooks,” he admitted.

Tinberg’s outstanding work and dedication were recognized quickly by upper management as he has been awarded the title of Employee of the Moth by the end of his very first week at Metropolis Resort. He was promoted soon after that and, with a little or no delay, honored as the Manager of the Month.

Nevertheless, Tinberg does not take credit for his multiple accomplishments at Metropolis. He is convinced he could not have done any of the things he is applauded for if the culture of the company was different. At Metropolis all employees are encouraged to innovate and share their ideas, “They listen to us,” Tinberg said, “that’s why it all works.”

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Job Shadow: Morning News Anchor Tyler Mickelson

By Grace Clemens

A morning news Anchor must be vivacious, confident and a people person and that is a perfect description of reporter, Tyler Mickelson. After years of job changes and moving across the country, Mickelson finally sits in the news anchor chairs at WEAU 13. He is joined on the set of Hello Wisconsin by his co- anchor and partner Courtney Everett. Being a news reporter has always been a dream of mine but never one that I ever thought would be possible. I am so thankful that I was able to see Tylers day to day workload and how he brings such energy to everything that he does for his audience. Tyler was able to give me a clear and honest view into the life of a reporter. He was able to show me the perks of being on television every morning but also informed me that as a reporter you need to be confident in your work because even if you give your best report the audience will not always receive very well. Tyler stated that reporters need the reassure themselves daily that they are doing their duty as a reporter, and that is to inform the audience of news worthy events regardless of the backlash that they may receive for it.

In the maze of the WEAU 13 building Tyler starts off his night by being welcomed by producers and directors who are hard at working beginning to package stories together for the morning show. Here he is able to look back at stories that were written by the 5 o’clock news and decipher if that information will still be current for his audience by morning. The morning crew of WEAU 13 is dedicated to giving their audience the relevant news to keep them updated while also giving them a fresh morning start and exciting news events to look forward to.

Tylers broadcast journalism career started way back in Southwest Minnesota State University where he graduated with a degree in Speech Communication. From there he moved to Great Falls, Montana to follow his dream of being a news reporter. Since his work in Montana, Tyler has anchored for KIMT-TV in Mason City, Iowa and is now officially settled into Eau Claire with his wife and two sons. Being raised on a tobacco farm north of Madison, Wisconsin didn’t leave much room for free time but Tyler was still able to develop a love for sports. By playing football all throughout high school and even into college, Tyler is able to cover sports, specifically the Minnesota Wild hockey team, with such eagerness and joy which brings a smile to everyone’s face so early in the morning.

I am very thankful for this job shadow assignment. To be able to sit in a news studio while they are airing live was a sixty minute adrenaline rush. This opportunity has opened my eyes to a whole other side of reporting that I have never experienced first hand.



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Job Shadow with Andrew Dowd

When given the assignment to shadow a profession of my choice, I knew I wanted to take the opportunity to see through the eyes of a reporter. I became declared as a journalism major last spring and was excited to finally see what I was really signing myself up for. After emailing and calling a variety of journalists, Andrew Dowd of the Leader-Telegram generously offered to let me shadow him on Monday and Tuesday of this week.

I’ve always admired journalism but had never been in a real newsroom, so I was unsure of what I’d be walking into before taking my first step into the Leader-Telegram Monday afternoon. I was relieved when Dowd welcomed me through a door into a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere. One of his coworkers giggled to a video of cats on Facebook while others debated on whether donuts should be brought to the office on Wednesday or Friday. Half of the large office space was empty with open desks, giving me an idea of what the Leader-Telegram’s staff had once been back when printed press was at a much higher demand.

Andrew Dowd and I sat by his spacious desk while he talked to me about his experiences in the journalism field. He’s been a Wisconsin resident his entire life, studying journalism at UW-Eau Claire after growing up outside of Madison. After writing for The Spectator for two years and graduating from UW-Eau Claire in 2004, Dowd has stayed in Eau Claire and been working as a reporter for the Leader-Telegram for nearly 13 years. He spent his first five years covering the county government, followed by five years covering city government. He’s now back working in county government in addition to being in charge of the Leader-Telegram’s quarterly Business Leader magazine.


Andrew Dowd working on his next story for the Leader-Telegram. ©Kinsey Johnson 2018

Dowd’s biggest piece of advice for me was to join The Spectator’s staff at UW-Eau Claire. Passion rose in his voice when he talked about different articles he had written for them in the past and he encouraged me to take the opportunity to do the same. After viewing his work and the work of his coworkers, I too think it would be a really great learning experience for me to join The Spectator and continue to expand my experience with writing and reporting.

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