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Success Starts Here: Finding a job

"Success Starts Here" is a series of six articles that introduce new students to the UW-Eau Claire College of Business. A new article will be posted each week until the fall academic term begins.

Finding a job

"Freshman year is a good time to start acquiring valuable work experiences for your resume," according to Tiffany Weiss, academic adviser and career development specialist in the College of Business Center for Advising, Development and Enrichment.

"Seeking assistance from CADE and Career Services early in your college career will open the door to greater opportunities in the future," she said.

Assistant Dean Gretchen Hutterli interviewed Weiss to learn about volunteer experiences, on-campus employment, and internships. Weiss also offered tips students need to know when interviewing for their first job.

What can freshmen do now to become more marketable later?

T.W. First--get good grades. The higher your GPA, the more options you have. Then get involved. Students who show initiative by participating in high impact practices like volunteer experiences, part-time jobs, or internships are held in high regard by recruiters.

Can you give us some examples of volunteer experiences available to freshmen?

T.W. There are many volunteer experiences on campus. For example, Housing and Residence Life is always looking for students to participate in Residence Hall Association, Judicial Board, and other housing and res life organizations. Students who participate in these experiences develop their leadership and interpersonal communication skills, and feel more connected to their res hall community.

Another way to get involved is by joining one of the eight Student Senate commissions. The Finance, Information Technology and University Activities Commissions are especially popular with business students because they are able to apply some of the things they have learned in class. You can learn more on the Student Senate website.

You mentioned part-time jobs. What are your thoughts about jobs for freshmen?

T.W. Part-time jobs can be a valuable part of your education. In addition to the money that you earn, you will develop skills for future employment.

If you want to work as a freshman, I recommend that you consider an on-campus job. Here's why--you don't need a car to get to work; you can often work a few hours between classes; and on-campus employers are often more sensitive to your needs. For example, it may be easier to get time off to work on a project or study for a final.

The university has many part-time jobs for students. Housing and Residence Life, for example, typically hires more than 400 students each year. Students work as front desk receptionists, IT specialists, mail sorters, security staff, weekend custodians, and residence hall assistants. Other good places to find part-time jobs are University Recreation, University Centers, and Learning and Technology Services. If you are interested in working for any of these organizations, I recommend that you contact them directly once you arrive on campus.

How many hours per week do you think freshmen should work?

T.W. Because everything is new for freshmen, I recommend no more than 10-15 hours per week their first semester. Of course, some students may need to work more hours. Then, 20 hours per week is a good number for most full-time students. If you work more than 20 hours, you may need to cut back on the number of credits you take each semester.

Tell us about internships. Why should students participate in one?

T.W. Internships are great because they allow you to "sample" a particular career. In addition to learning more about your major, you also get to experience what it is like to work in a professional work environment--something many freshmen haven't done yet. You will interact with supervisors and co-workers, learn how to manage your time, and be accountable for your work. You may also learn something about the kind of organization you want to work for in the future. For example, do you enjoy working for a large, global corporation, or is a smaller, entrepreneurial firm more to your liking?

Finally, internships are a great way to get your foot in the door. Many companies use internships as a way to pre-screen prospective employees so if your experience goes well, you may come back to campus with a job offer.

When is the best time to do an internship?

T.W. There really isn't one best time. Some students do yearlong internships that allow them to work part-time and still go to school. Accounting students often do them in the spring during tax season. Many students do internships during the summer.

As to year in school...many employers look for juniors and seniors because they have taken more courses in their major. But that isn't a hard and fast rule. When to do an internship is a great topic to discuss with your CADE adviser.

How can students find an internship?

T.W. It's a good idea to plan ahead. Start your search early and network with many employers. It is not uncommon for employers to hire interns one to two semesters before the internship actually begins. A good place to start your search is at the university-wide Career Conferences held in September and in February. I recommend that all business students--including freshmen--attend these events.

Internships are also posted on Blugold CareerLink, a computerized database that gives you access to hundreds of internships and full-time professional jobs posted by employers recruiting UW-Eau Claire students.

Health care administration students do a practicum. Is that the same as an internship?

T.W. A practicum is a 50-week required work experience completed by health care administration seniors at an affiliated heath care institution. In many ways it is like an internship: students are supervised, they complete projects designed to enhance their understanding of their profession, they are "paid" for the work they do, and they receive UW-Eau Claire credit for the experience.

Any advice for students interviewing for their first job?

T.W. Be honest, be yourself, and be prepared. Interviewers expect you to know about their organization--I can't stress this enough. Check out the company's website to find information about its history, mission, product lines, latest news and career opportunities. Think about the image you project. In job hunting, first impressions are important. Make sure you are appropriately dressed and groomed. Finally, spend time practicing your interview skills. The better prepared you are for your interview, the more confident you will be.

Meet Tiffany Weiss, CADE adviser and career development specialist
Tiffany Weiss

Tiffany Weiss is the academic adviser for students majoring in accounting, finance, and health care administration. She also coordinates the college's Student Professional Development Program, and works with businesses to develop internship sites. As the point person in CADE for internships and employment opportunities, she knows what employers look for in prospective employees.

When she isn't working, you will find Tiffany enjoying the great outdoors. She loves to spend time with her family camping, canoeing, biking, golfing, fishing and hunting. An avid sports fan, Tiffany is a regular at Old Abe and Blugold hockey games.

A Blugold alumna, Tiffany enjoyed her time at UW-Eau Claire. She encourages students to make the most of their college experience.

"College is an amazing opportunity," she said. "Take advantage of every day you are here by getting involved."