Career counselor alum: ‘Work experience laid foundation for grad school success’

Masha Finn, alumni of the counseling and student personnel psychology, M.A. ‘17, didn’t take a single psychology class during her undergraduate career. Finn studied international relations as well as french and francophone studies at Carleton College, pursuing the fields of law and international human rights. However, she says, “These never quite felt like the right fit for me.”

Finn got a taste of counseling during her work study position as a career advisor at Carleton’s Career Center before graduating in 2009. After graduation, Finn was a french-speaking financial services representative for nearly year before she decided she needed a change of pace. Finn then served as an Americorps VISTA recruiting tutor as well as a volunteer coordinator for an international non-profit.

“All the while, I was eager to return to higher education,” Finn recalls. She worked for the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) at the University of Minnesota as the alumni relations college to career program coordinator. After several years in this position, Finn finally decided to pursue her own graduate degree.

“I knew that career services is where I wanted to be and that having a foundation in counseling would be essential to finding opportunities as a career counselor.”

She continues, “I started searching and realized that, right in my backyard, the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota is nationally renowned in the field of student counseling.”

Throughout her graduate degree, Finn was able to work full time in her position at CFANS, intern part time, and go to school part time.

“This was because of my extremely supportive supervisors, colleagues, and Ed Psych professors,” she says.

Finn valued the hands-on experience as well as guidance throughout her experience in the CSPP program. “We put together materials that we could use at our practicum sites and as we went out into the workforce,” she says.

Currently, Finn is a career counselor for Hamline University’s Career Development Center where she meets with students individually to talk through career exploration, choosing a major, preparing for job interviews, and transitioning to life post-college. In addition, she facilitates workshops on all of the above topics for a variety of classes across Hamline’s campus.

Finn’s advice to students comes from her personal experience: “I would encourage students to consider getting work experience after undergrad and before deciding on a graduate program. Everyone’s experience is different, but for me, taking time to work gave me perspective and made me feel even more sure that enrolling in the CSPP program was the right decision.”