"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
Having enough money is the number one concern facing our new freshmen, according to a recent university survey. In fact, 59% of students expressed this concern. Finding a job is also something new students are thinking about -- 29% of freshmen expressed this concern.
To learn more about employment opportunities available to business students now and in the future, Assistant Dean Gretchen Hutterli interviewed Tiffany Weiss, career services and external activities coordinator for the College of Business. Weiss also discussed the value of doing an internship, and introduced "Handshake", Career Services' new online platform for accessing information about internships, and on campus and full time jobs.
GH: Many new freshmen are worried they won't have enough money during their college career. In addition to securing financial aid and scholarships, getting a job is another way to ease financial concerns. What are your thoughts about freshmen working?
TW: Working part time while attending college can help you in many different ways. A job can help ease your (and your parent’s) financial concerns. More importantly though, the process of getting a job, and then the responsibilities that go along with holding a job, will help you when it’s time to start your career. Along with that, the skills that you learn at your part time job can be great resume builders and talking points during future interviews.
GH: How many hours a week seem reasonable?
TW: A full time student enrolled in 15 credits is doing the equivalent of a full time job, and that is his/her first priority. That said, it's not unreasonable for a student to work 15-20 hours per week -- if you plan to work more than that, it’s important to reduce your credit load. Many freshmen wait until their second semester to get a part time job in order to give themselves time to get acclimated to college life. Just remember that your part time job is short term; your long-term goal is to graduate and have a successful career.
GH: Are some student jobs better than others?
TW: Almost any part time job will help you build your resume. If possible, try to find a job related to your degree. For example, if you’re a finance major, try working part time at a bank. Or, if you’ve always worked somewhere as a waitress or factory worker, see if your employer is willing to add some additional responsibilities to your position.
GH: What about a campus job? What types of jobs are available? How do students find one?
TW: Campus jobs are another great resume builder and can be very convenient for students. They are great because you can so easily work them around your school schedule. In addition, these jobs can lead to great references for future career opportunities.
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. Campus job postings are listed in Handshake, Career Services' new recruitment platform.
GH: What about an internship? According to the most recent senior survey, 79% of our graduating business 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.
Is this something a student should do as a freshmen?
TW: Of course, students can do an internship as a freshman. However, don’t get hung up on a position being tagged as an “internship”. Some companies won’t hire you as a formal intern until you’ve taken some junior level courses. That’s okay! Remember, your goal is to build your resume. Each summer I encourage you to find a position that in some way can be tied to business and better yet, one that’s related to your intended major.
GH: What do companies look for when hiring interns?
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 problems. The ability to use technology is also important.
What about GPA? Is a student with a lower GPA simply out of luck when it comes to finding an internship? What can he or she do to be more marketable?
TW: Many companies do look for students with a 3.0 GPA or better. However, if circumstances have prevented you from attaining this goal, don’t worry, you are still marketable. UW-Eau Claire College of Business has a great reputation with employers -- 99% of our recent grads reported that they are employed or continuing their education. Participating in high impact practices like joining a student organization or studying abroad are others ways to build your resume. As previously mentioned, your past work experience will also help. In addition, showing that you’re making forward progress with your GPA will help greatly. Everyone faces adversity at point or another. If you can show improvement over time, they will notice that.
GH: How do I find out which companies are offering internships?
TW: Students should use Handshake to find available internships, attend Career Conference each semester, attend speaking events during student organization meetings, meet with me, get to know their professors and advisors. Bottom line, get involved!.
GH: You've mention Handshake several times throughout our conversation. Tell me more about it.
TW: Handshake was recently purchased by Career Services to help students find internships and employment opportunities -- any UW-Eau Claire student can use it. All on campus jobs, internships, interview opportunities, and full time career positions will be posted through this platform. You’re even able to post your resume for employers to see. I encourage everyone to become comfortable and familiar with this site! You can login to Handshake from the Career Service website.
GH: You also mentioned Career Conference as a good place to go to look for internships. What is Career Conference and should students go to this event even if they aren't ready for an internship or a full time job?
TW: Career Conference is a university wide career and job fair held in September and in February that is attended by over 150 companies. I strongly encourage all students--even freshmen--to attend these career fairs throughout their college career. Some students even attend once they’ve secured their full time positions because it’s a great way to network with other business professionals.
Be aware that most employers aren't looking for freshmen interns, but you never know. Even if you don't get an interview as a freshman, going to Career Conference is a great place to practice your networking and communication skills. Every time you attend one, you get more comfortable talking to employers. So, once you’re really in the market for an internship, it will all seem second nature to you.
GH: In your position in the College of Business, you have worked with hundreds of students. In your opinion, what is the biggest mistake students make regarding internships and employment opportunities?
TW: Good question. Thankfully, I can’t think of many! Employers continue to tell us our students are well prepared academically and very professional. UW-Eau Claire does a great job helping students get ready for these opportunities. There are resources abounding. Perhaps the biggest mistake students make is not taking advantage of the help available to them. And, don’t wait to get involved. Start your freshman year.
GH: Great advice, Tiffany. Tiffany will be on hand to answer any other questions you may have about jobs and internships at the COB Freshmen meeting on September 5. Be sure to check your email for more information.
Meet Tiffany Weiss
Career Services and External Activities Coordinator
Hometown: Eau Claire, WI
What I do . . . I'm fortunate to work with students to help prepare them for all aspects of the professional world. I connect business students with employers looking for interns or full time employees. I coordinate the college's Student Professional Development Program, the non-credit workshops all business students take. I am also the faculty advisor for Beta Upsilon Sigma (BUS), the oldest student business organization on campus.
When I am not working . . . I spend time with my husband and two teenagers. We love to travel, camp, hike, and do anything outdoors.
People are often surprised to learn . . . I can backup any rig -- car, camper, four-wheeler, or semi. Just a little skill I picked up when I worked for Fed Ex.
My best college memories include . . . walking across the stage at commencement. I was a first generation college student so this was a big accomplishment!
My favorite thing to do on the UW-Eau Claire campus is . . . to attend any student event -- musicals, theater, business related, or sporting (especially hockey).
One thing on my bucket list is . . . to finish my master's degree!
Introducing the Class of 2021! Meet your classmates, business faculty, staff, advisors, and student leaders, Tuesday, September 5 from 2-3:30 pm in the Davies Center Ojibwe Ballroom. Watch your email for more details.