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Success Starts Here: Getting involved

| Gretchen Hutterli

"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.

Getting Involved

Introducing Emily Elsner Twesme, a lecturer in the Business Communication department. Emily is the perfect person to discuss the benefits of “getting involved” as she is one of the most “involved” young faculty members in the College of Business.

In addition to teaching on-campus courses in business writing, business presentations, and advanced business presentations, she serves as the faculty advisor for the award winning Collegiate DECA student organization. Like you, Emily is also a student — she is currently working on a Doctorate of Business Administration at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. And if all this isn’t enough, she is a wife, and a mom to two young children. Little wonder that Emily is also a master at time management.

GH: In the College of Business, we often talk about HIPS —High Impact Practices — intensive learning experiences that go beyond the classroom. Were you involved in any HIP activities when you were an undergrad?

EET: Even though I’m not “that” old, HIPs were relatively new when I was an undergrad. I had an internship for four years working with small towns in west-central Minnesota. This experience has had an impact on me in more ways that I can count: I was able to work with small towns on specific projects, and eventually I was able to learn more about workplace management, administration, and event planning. The experience allowed me to see that what I was learning in the classroom had a real-world application — and I will forever be grateful for that.

Also, I met some amazing people, and compared to a lot of my friends, I was connected to a community outside of my campus community. Attending off-campus events and having off-campus connections helped me to appreciate the beauty of small towns in a way that, as a girl from the suburbs, I hadn’t experienced before. I still keep in touch with a few people from the office — 16 years later!

GH: What a great experience! That is why the College of Business encourages students to participate in internships. In a later “Success Starts Here” article, we will talk more about them.  

But there are other meaningful ways students can get involved during their time at UW-Eau Claire. Two examples that come to mind are student organizations and academic competitions — something you are familiar with, given your involvement in Collegiate DECA. What can students gain from joining a student org?  

EET: In a student organization, like Collegiate DECA, students learn how to work hard, set goals, persevere, think under pressure, and probably most importantly, learn how to communicate with all kinds of people in all kinds of situations. These kinds of experiences allow you — the student — to put into practice what you are learning in the classroom. Another plus — employers want to hire students who are active in student orgs. For example, every member of our DECA chapter who has graduated has gotten a job either before graduation or immediately after. I know this is also true in other student business organizations. Participation in a student org is invaluable to your future career! 

GH: I agree and have also seen the connection between being involved and getting an internship or a full time job. Any thoughts on when to join a student org? Also, how do students know which one is right for them? The College of Business alone supports 15 different organizations.

EET: I recommend joining one right away! Finding the right student org for you is a lot like dating: it takes some time and shopping around before you find the right fit — both for your personality and where you want to go after graduation.

GH: A great place to “shop around” to learn more about student organizations is Blu’s Orgs Bash, which will be held this year on September 13 from 11 am to 2 pm on the Central Campus Mall. Members from our student business orgs will be there as well as representatives from other UW-Eau Claire student organizations.

Let’s talk about academic competitions, an activity that is gaining popularity in our college. Students in Collegiate DECA, as well as AITP, AMA, APICS, Blugold Sales Team, FMA, and SHRM are involved in competitions. How does a DECA competition work? What do students learn from competing?

EET: Competitions ROCK! In the case of Collegiate DECA, students, working alone or with a partner, are given a 1-2 page case study that asks them to come up with a solution to a series of problems, such as how do you market a new online subscription product to compete with Netflix and Amazon Prime. After students have prepared their solution, they present their ideas to judges — many of whom currently work in the field.

From what I’ve gathered from students, competitions are simultaneously challenging, terrifying, and exhilarating. You get to think on your feet, use your creativity and problem-solving skills, all while drawing on your experiences — in the classroom and in real life. Above all, competitions build so much confidence and determination in students: it’s incredible for me to watch, year after year, students persevere and grow into truly outstanding business professionals. It’s one of my favorite things about my job — and, truth be told, a driving factor in why I went back to school myself.

GH: All of these activities require good time management skills. Do you have any tips to pass on to our new freshmen, given that you are also a working student?

EET: Time management is KEY, not just in school, but in your professional career. Here are some lessons that I have learned (sometimes the hard way!):

Figure out what your goals are. This is different for everyone! Some people know what they want to do for a career; others are trying to figure out how to survive the week. So, set some incremental goals: by the day, week, month, semester. These can be anything: “Spend two hours a day studying; exercise for 30 minutes; get to sleep by 1 am.”

Learn when to say yes…and when to say no. Your time is the most valuable resource that you have — and you and only you are in charge of how it gets used. So make it count! Does an event, activity or opportunity help you reach one of your goals? Then say “yes” and figure out how to make it fit into your life. If the answer is “no,” then you need to re-evaluate: have your goals changed? Sometimes people or activities are bad news — they take all of the time YOU need to achieve YOUR goals. It’s hard to say no, and sometimes it requires a lot of courage, but you will thank yourself for it later.

Be kind to yourself. As you start your new journey at UW-Eau Claire, don’t forget to cut yourself some slack as you spend this year figuring out who you are and what you want to achieve during your time here. No one is perfect! We all make mistakes — we take on too much, we don’t say ‘no’ when we need to, we over commit ourselves, and the list’s okay. I have a reminder on my home computer to "Try Your Best" — and that’s all that matters. Some days my ‘best’ is better than others. But, the great thing is that tomorrow is a new day: you get another chance to start over and make it better.

GH. So much great advice, Emily. You will be able to meet Emily and other College of Business faculty and staff at the at the the COB Freshmen Meeting on September 5. Check your email for more information.

Emily Elsner Twesme

Meet Emily Elsner Twesme
Lecturer, Business Communication

Hometown: Coon Rapids, MN

What you do . . . teach, advise, participate on committees, research.

When I am not working . . . I’m running — for fitness AND after my kids, and cooking for anyone who shows up at our door

People are often surprised to learn . . . I love helping students get ready for the Career Conference — resumes, elevator speeches, what to wear, who to talk to…all of it.

My best college memories include . . . regular late-night runs to the one and only 24-hour establishment in Morris (a grocery store!) for ice cream.

My favorite thing to do on the UW-Eau Claire campus is . . . spend time outside! Seriously, we live in an amazing place — there is so much to do in town or just outside of town. Grab some friends and a snack and get out there!

One item on my bucket list is  . . . to read all seven Harry Potter books out loud to my girls AND spend a week doing nothing but reading on a beach in Hawaii.

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.