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Success Starts Here: Finding a job

| Gretchen Hutterli

"Success Starts Here" is a series of seven 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

Freshmen: we know you just got on campus, but four years goes by fast. Before you know it you will be on the job market. Assistant Dean Gretchen Hutterli interviewed Tiffany Weiss, career services and external activities coordinator for the College of Business, to find out what you can do now to make yourself more marketable in the future.

What do employers look for in a prospective employee?

TW: First, academic proficiency. By that I mean that an accounting major, for example, must understand the principles and practices that make him or her a good accountant. Other skills that employers look for include oral and written communication skills, the ability to work independently and in a team structure, and the ability to obtain and analyze data and to use it to make decisions and solve problem. The ability to use technology is also important.

How do freshmen develop these skills?

TW: They will develop many of these skills through their business classes and by participating in high impact practices (HIPS) like student organizations, part-time work experiences, or internships.

Student organizations are a great place for students to develop leadership, communication, and organizational skills. Last week we talked about the advantages of joining a student business organization. But there are other groups on campus that offer students meaningful learning experiences. Can you give us some examples?

TW: One organization that will be familiar to most freshmen is Housing and Residence Life. They are always looking for students to participate in the Residence Hall Association, Judicial Board, and other housing and res life organizations. Student Senate also looks for students to sit on its commissions. The Senate’s Finance, Information Technology, and University Activities Commissions are especially popular with business students.

Earlier you mentioned part-time jobs. What are your thoughts about freshmen working?

TW: Although everyone’s situation is different, part-time jobs can be a valuable part of a student’s education. In addition to the money the student earns, he or she can also develop skills that will enhance his/her resume.  

I highly recommend that freshmen who want to work 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. And there is a social aspect to campus jobs, too. Working on campus is a great way to get to know university faculty and staff as well as other students. Students who work on campus feel greater connection to the university community.

How do students find a campus job?

TW: They should check out Handshake, a computerized database that gives them access to hundreds of jobs posted by employers recruiting UW-Eau Claire students. Students can also find out which positions are available on campus and in the Eau Claire community at the UW-Eau Claire Part-time Job Fair which will be held Friday, September 9 from 10 am–1 pm in the Davies Center Dakota Ballroom.

Is there a rule of thumb regarding how many hours per week freshmen should work?

TW: Generally, I recommend that students work no more than 10–15 hours per week their first semester because everything is new. Of course, some students may need to work more hours. Then 20 hours per week is a good number for most full-time students. Students who work more than 20 hours may need to cut back on the number of credits they take each semester.

Internships are very popular with business students. According to the most recent senior survey, 75% of our graduating seniors have completed at least one internship. What can you tell us about them?

TW: Internships, or practicums if you are a health care administration major, 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. 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, international corporation, or is a smaller, entrepreneurial firm more to your liking?

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

You’ve convinced me! What do I have to do to get started?

TW: First, work with your academic advisor to determine when is the best time for you to do an internship. Then you need to find one. Internships are posted on the Hire a Blugold database. I also recommend that you attend Career Conference, a university wide career and job fair held in September and in February that is attended by over 150 companies. These events are a great place to get specific answers to your questions about a company’s internship program. And one last tip — be sure to start your internship 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.

Can I take an internship for university credit?

TW: Yes. Internships can also be used for elective credit in all business majors except business administration and finance. Students who want to take an internship for credit must meet with their department chair as soon as they have a job offer to make sure the experience meets department requirements.

At some point in a student’s academic career, he or she will participate in a formal job interview.  What tips can you offer students who may be interviewing for the first time?

TW: Be honest, be yourself, and be prepared. Interviewers expect you to know about their organization — this is true whether you are interviewing for a part-time campus job, an internship, or a full-time position after graduation. Check out the organization’s website to find out more about the company. Talk to your professors, and/or current students who may have worked for the organization. Many student business organizations also invite employers to speak at their meetings. Attending these meetings is a good way to learn about the company while networking with alums who may have some influence on whether you get an interview.

You should give some thought as to what you will be wearing to the interview. First impressions are important even for campus jobs. Make sure you are appropriately dressed and groomed.  

Finally, work on your interview skills. Think about the questions you may be asked and practice how you will answer them. The better prepared you are for your interview, the more confident you will be.

Any final thoughts for our new freshmen, Tiffany?

TW: Get good grades. The higher your GPA, the more options you have.  Then get involved. Students who show initiative by participating in HIPs — high impact practices — are held in high regard by recruiters.

Meet Tiffany Weiss
Tiffany Weiss

Tiffany Weiss, career services and external activities coordinator for the College of Business, wears many hats. She coordinates the college's Student Professional Development Program, the non-credit workshops all business students take, and works with businesses to develop internship sites. As the point person in the College of Business for internships and employment opportunities, Tiffany 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."

Plan to attend the COB Freshmen Meeting, Friday, September 2 from 11 am-12 pm in the Davies Center Ojibwe Ballroom. Watch your email for more details.