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Falcon Center jobs provide opportunities for UWRF students

December 6, 2017

A student worker records a basketball game with a video camera Dec. 2 in the Falcon Center. Photo by Tori Schneider/University Communications

A student worker records a basketball game with a video camera Dec. 2 in the Falcon Center. Photo by Tori Schneider/University Communications

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls opened its $63.5 million Falcon Center for Health and Wellness, complete with sports facilities, workout equipment, classrooms and meeting spaces in September. The facility provides a variety of activities, but it also provides something else that is less well-known – on-campus jobs. These jobs are managed under the Operations for Falcon Center, a division of Sports Facilities.

This department is overseen by Assistant Director of Sports Facilities, Charles Sowa. Sowa himself started at UW-River Falls, graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science in Health and Human Performance. “I grew to love River Falls and what campus stands for,” he said.

“Operations for Falcon Center is responsible for everything south of the river (on campus),” Sowa added. “There are three divisions within Operations including building and grounds staff, media and tech staff and event staff.”

According to Sowa, Operations for Falcon Center employs approximately 30 students every semester. Students have the opportunity to earn between $8.50 and $9.25 per hour starting out. They can receive a raise every year that they are on staff.

In addition to being paid, each of these students has the opportunity to gain valuable professional experience through their work.

“I have three goals for my student workers: be accountable, have integrity and always do what is right,” Sowa said.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers recently released its 2016 “Job Outlook Survey.” It cited “80 percent of responding employers…look for evidence of leadership skills on the candidate’s resume…the candidate is able to work in a team.”

Additionally, the survey said, “Employers also cited written communication skills, problem-solving skills, verbal communication skills and a strong work ethic.”

“Charlie (Sowa) is really big on getting us that experience and making sure we feel confident and capable to do our jobs,” said Sarah Kohlhase, a fifth-year art education major and Falcon Center student manager. “So many things are happening and so many things are changing that it’s really necessary for us to be the leader, take control and make sure our staff are all on the same page to get the end goal done.”

In addition to gaining leadership experience, Kohlhase says that her job is helping prepare her to teach in a classroom.

“Specifically, in my position, I have event staff, so I helping train them – helping getting them to a certain point,” she said. “And then with certain reservations we have in the facility…such as Prescott Middle School ‘fun days,’ it’s (Hunt Arena) filled with middle schoolers and helping them tie their skates and making sure they are in the right spot.”

Joel Rausch, who has been with the department for two years, agrees that the job provides valuable experience. Rausch is pursuing a degree in psychology, and this job has provided him opportunities to observe classroom theory in the real world.

“My favorite part of the position is working with the team members,” Rausch said. “It allows you to work with a lot of different people such as coworkers and visitors. You get experience handling interpersonal conflict as well.”

Sowa said that Falcon Center Operations is always seeking and hiring new students, regardless of major. He will be honest and up-front that some parts of the job are less-than-glamorous. However, his goal is to allow his staff to “have fun at work” as one of his core values.

The department is able to hire either students that qualify for work study or student assistance. Interested students can apply through Hire-A-Falcon, the online hiring system from UW-River Falls Career Services or on the Falcon Center website.

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