Eau Claire, WI – Joe Kriese has suddenly become a lot more popular among his friends and family. It seems Kriese, who just graduated from Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) on Friday, May 9, has scored two free tickets to every home Green Bay Packers game – and he will have no need to use any of them himself.
Sounds like quite a graduation present, and in a way, it was. The 20-year-old from Whitehall landed a job before his graduation in the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Technician program. He starts May 19 with the Packers. He’ll be helping take care of the heating and ventilation systems at Lambeau Field and the Packers Hall of Fame.
Kiese may be the envy of many of his fellow graduates, but he’s hardly the only one of the 621 graduates in 44 academic programs honored at the ceremony to have a job waiting for him. In fact, research shows that 90 percent are employed within six months of graduation and 89 percent employed in a field related to their education.
The most popular programs among this spring’s graduates at the Eau Claire campus are Nursing, with 80 graduates, Business Management with 38 graduates, and Electrical Power Distribution with 30. Kiese, one of seven graduates in his program, had a good idea he had a job, but never dreamed it would be with the team he’s been following virtually all his life.
“I didn’t think I had a shot at the job. I didn’t know if they wanted a (recent) college graduate or an experienced technician,” Kriese said. “I saw the posting on Tech Connect, (a hiring website) and I figured if any college kid had a shot, I did, because my grades are good.”
Actually, though a bit young, Kriese would look the part if he suited up with the team. He’s 6’4”, about 220 lbs., and had a successful athletic career in football and basketball at Whitehall High School, graduating in 2012. He chose CVTC and the two-year Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Technician program because he already had some familiarity with it.
“A few members of my family are in it and like it, and I wanted to be in a technical trade,” he said.
Kriese is looking forward to meeting some Packers players. He was told there are social events that involve the entire organization, including the stars on the field.
Those tickets are one of the perks of working for the Packers, but Kriese noted he won’t need them himself. He’s already been told he’ll be working every game day. “If it’s a noon game, I can go watch it for free, because I work at three,” he said.
And, yes, he’s already had some questions about those available tickets from friends and relatives.
“Everybody’s real excited. They say they’ll come down for the games,” he said.
The graduation ceremony was a night of celebration for all of the graduates and their families. Among the graduates was student speaker Ashley Weiss of Menomonie, who is originally from Gilmanton, in the Administrative Professional program. She urged the graduates to have confidence that they can achieve their goals and overcome their failures.
“If you want something bad enough, what you have accomplished here today should be enough to show you that you can absolutely reach any goal you set your mind to,” she said. “But don’t be afraid of failure on your way there. Sometimes those failures are what motivate you to do better and push yourself harder.”
The guest speaker was Jeff West, president of Bear Down, a company that helps companies effectively implement their strategic plans. West was the co-founder and CEO of Silicon Logic Engineering a company he sold in 2006. West told the story of good employee A and disgruntled employee B.
“I hope each of you someday take the leap and start your own business. There’s nothing else like it in the world,” West said, but added, “I’m sure many of you are going to be taking new jobs or have already started them. Every business you work for, no matter the size today, at one point was started by someone with a dream. They put their heart and soul and probably most of their worldly net worth into getting going. So the question is, which employee are you going to be? A or B?”
In addition to the ceremony held at UW-Eau Claire’s Zorn Arena, CVTC honored 46 graduates in five programs at its River Falls Campus on Thursday, May 8.