By Josh Goldner, Steve Griswold, Eric Meyers, Jon Pickett, and Jake Reuter
In just a few short months, many University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students will be embarking on a journey into their first professional job. Entering the work force can be scary, so we’ve asked current College of Business faculty to share their experiences on their first jobs and to offer some advice to students entering the work force. We interviewed Dawna Drum, Harry Harvey, Dr. Robert Sutton, Dr. Scott Lester, and Dr. Nancy Hanson-Rasmussen.
Dawna Drum is the Coordinator of Instructional Technology for the College of Business. However, she wasn’t always the go-to person for technology at UW-Eau Claire’s College of Business. After graduating from UWEC, her first IS position was as a programmer-analyst for CUNA Mutual Group for 6 years. From this position she learned the value of continuous learning and developed a belief that people are your most important asset. Drum’s advice for you, “Keep your mind open. Never assume that what you’ve learned in classes is everything you will ever need to know.”
Harry Harvey is a lecturer of management and marketing at the University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire. Before teaching, Mr. Harvey spent 24 years as a quality assurance engineer for Uniroyal. Uniroyal was his first job out college, and he says he enjoyed his time with the company. When the plant shut down he had the option of transferring to a different branch, but decided Eau Claire was too good of a town to leave. Once, Mr. Harvey sent a "wise-guy" employee out to find some Firestone tires. The guy searched all day long and when he got back, Mr. Harvey informed him Firestone tires did not exist. Mr. Harvey’s best advice on first jobs is to go to work every day, try your best, and enjoy your job.
“Believe in the company, and believe in the product,” is the advice of Associate Dean Dr. Robert Sutton. After graduating from UW-La Crosse, Dr. Sutton was like many college graduates—uncertain. At a time when jobs were scarce, he was struggling with the decision of going into the workforce, graduate school, or law school. After graduating, he worked for the highway department repairing roads for a period of time. Then, with a business administration major and math minor in hand, he went to work for a large retail chain department store. Dr. Sutton enjoyed working with customers and assisting their needs, but found his work morally unrewarding as a large number of customers were dissatisfied with the company’s products.
Dr. Sutton continued by saying “it is import to find a company that you can believe in.” His time at this retail department store ended with his enrollment at the University of Iowa to receive his Ph.D.
Dr. Scott Lester is an associate professor of management and the director of the Center for Leadership. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Richmond. His first job out of college was with the management training company, Dale Carnegie. In this job he led training sessions for different companies. From this job he took away that the use of interpersonal skills is vital. His advice to students taking their first job is simply, “Don’t settle.” Dr. Lester said that taking a job just to have it hinders the ability to look for something fulfilling, and a person should wait for the right fit before settling.
Dr. Nancy Hanson-Rasmussen is a lecturer of management courses for the College of Business. Dr. Hanson-Rasmussen's first job was at the Center for Children in downtown Minneapolis as a therapeutic recreation specialist. She wanted to change the world and learned the importance of standing up for everyone’s rights. Dr. Hanson-Rasmussen advises, "Make sure to take some time to think about your values before you take your first job. Think about all the reasons you want to accept the job offer and consider how these match your values." As she did on her first job, she still tries to apply new ideas or approaches every day.
Whether you are still finding your first job or looking for your next one, you will learn or remember good and bad things from it, which will be with you for the rest of your life. From our interviewees’ first jobs there is a reoccurring theme. Make sure the job you take is in line with your values, aspirations, and beliefs. Starting your first job or continuing with your next job, make that employment align with your values, and you will find a job that you love doing every day.
From left to right: Josh Goldner is a senior information systems major from Oconomowoc, WI; Steve Griswold is a senior accounting major from Merrill, WI; Eric Meyers is a senior marketing major from Rice Lake, WI; Jon Pickett is a junior management major from Eau Claire, WI; and Jake Reuter is a senior human resource management major from Madison, WI.
They wrote this article for their BCOM Advanced Writing class.