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2009 Alums Share Experience with New Grads

Posted By Paige Riemann, Thursday, May 21, 2020



Although graduation is a time of celebration, it can also be a stressful time for many students, especially now, in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis. WREAA recently hosted a webinar titled “When a Market Crisis Interrupts your Career Plan” with panelists who graduated during the 2008-2009 financial crisis. The panel was moderated by Katie Bergen (BBA 2009), Senior Director at EverWest Real Estate Investors, and was an opportunity for students and recent graduates to receive advice from those who also graduated in a time of uncertainty. The panel consisted of Megan May (BBA 2009), Senior Associate in Real Estate Equity at Allstate Investments, Tim Bruss (MBA 2009), Director of Asset Management at Hamilton Zanze, Michael Mazur (BBA 2009), Head of Business Development for American Postal Infrastructure, and Andy Evans (MBA 2020), current UW graduate student who also graduated from undergrad during the 2008-2009 financial crisis.


In 2009, only 42% of Wisconsin undergraduates graduated with job opportunities, though some offers were eventually rescinded.  For comparison, 62% of May 2019 Real Estate grads who were seeking employment had accepted a job offer prior to graduation. The panel talked about their job search experience and the discouragement of attending a seemingly prospect-less career fair. Michael Mazur shared that the pre-graduation offer he received was rescinded. This resulted in a pivot to a career he had not planned on, making him a more well-rounded individual in the end. The panel members learned that during the 2009 financial crisis, it was important to be patient and flexible.  They encouraged current students to be open to searching for jobs outside of their preferred specialization or geographic location.


Tim Bruss found a post-graduation internship through a Wisconsin alumnus he met while on the San Francisco Real Estate Club Trip. Tim and the other panelists emphasized that now is the time to make UW alumni connections. The panel agreed that in times like this, people want to help others when they can. They advised graduates to look at networking as a fulltime job and to use the WREAA Directory to reach out to others. Even if alums can’t connect a new or recent grad with a job opportunity right now, there is something that can be learned from every phone call.


Despite the uncertainty, the panel remains optimistic about the future. Megan May predicts it will be a shorter recovery than in the Great Recession and Michael Mazur stated he is already surprised at how quickly the stock market seems to be recovering. The panel told students and recent graduates to keep their heads up!


Thank you to Katie Bergen, Megan May, Tim Bruss, Michael Mazur, and Andy Evans for taking the time to share their advice and words of encouragement to our students and recent graduates. We know it will help as they embark on finding a career after graduation.



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