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Success Starts Here: What's Your Major?

| Carrie Ottum

"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. This is the second article in the series.

Making Major Decisions

As a new UW-Eau Claire student, you will be making many major decisions throughout your college career.  One of the most important one is selecting an academic major. The College of Business alone has over 20 different major, minor, and certificate options. Which one(s) is right for you?

Carrie Ottum, College of Business Outreach Program Manager, interviewed John Reichert, lead business advisor in the university’s Advising, Retention + Career Center, for tips students can use to explore major options.

CO: John, you graduated from UW-Eau Claire with a degree in broadcast journalism. Did you know right away that this was the major for you?

JR: No I didn’t. I was an undeclared major when I started college because I wanted to explore a bunch of different interests . . . everything from computer science and education to business and journalism. After doing a lot of career exploration and taking GEN 250, an academic and career exploration course, I declared a major in broadcast journalism by the end of my first year.

CO: Your experience sounds so familiar. Like you, many of our new students are unsure about their major. Should they be concerned at this point in their academic career if they don't know what it will be?

JR: Absolutely not. Many students end up changing their majors at some point during their first couple of semesters. I encourage them to take time to explore different areas and careers so that they can make an informed decision.

CO: Great advice, John, but will I graduate in four years if I don’t commit to a business major now?

JR: You have some leeway. The College of Business majors are set up so that you are primarily working on completing your Liberal Education courses and the prerequisites for the 300-level COB coursework during your first two years. Where students encounter issues with graduating in four years is when they need to repeat courses because they did not pass them the first time. My advice to them is to work as hard in your “non-business” courses as you would your “business” courses.

CO: You've mentioned the importance of exploring options. But there are so many majors out there. How do I get started?

JR: You should keep in mind your values, interests, personality type, and strengths when selecting a career.  Research the types of work environments and stress levels associated with the careers you are considering. Take time to find something that you're going to enjoy learning about and engaging in. You career should match your preferences and goals!

Let's talk about resources available to students. Let's say I think supply chain management sounds interesting. How do I find out what someone with that major does?

JR: One of the easiest ways is to get involved in a College of Business student organization – the college supports 16 different ones.  For example, APICS, the campus organization for supply chain management students, brings in guest speakers and arranges company site visits so members can learn about career opportunities. The other student business organizations do similar activities.

Another strategy I recommend is to go to Career Conference or set up informational interviews with professionals working in the field. The Advising, Retention, and Career Center also has a lot of great online tools to help you research careers. One of my favorites is “Blugold Success Stories” where you can find out what alums are doing with their degrees.

CO: Any final advice for students trying to make a "major" decision?

RJ: Reach out to your academic advisor.  We have a lot of tools we can offer to help you narrow down your decision. Your faculty advisor is also a great resource. We are here to help but the choice is ultimately yours to make. You need to be proactive in working towards making that decision.

And remember . . .  while this decision is an important one, it doesn’t necessarily close “any doors” to potential jobs or careers. Your UW-Eau Claire degree positions you well and gives you skills that can be used in a variety of different areas.

Thank you for your advice, John. John and the college's other academic advisors will be on hand to answer any other questions you may have about majors at the COB Academic Mixer on September 3. Be sure to check your email for more information. 

John Reichert

Meet John Reichert
Lead advisor, Business Studies Cluster
Hometown: Westboro, WI
What I do . . . I help my assigned students select courses, create degree plans, plan study abroad or National Student Exchange experiences as well as answer a wide assortment of questions. I meet regularly with the department chairs and program coordinators to learn about curriculum changes and best practices for their programs. I share this information with the other business studies cluster advisors so we can provide the best advising possible.

Why I became an advisor . . . I originally wanted to work in television -- I was in school right around the time the movie, Anchorman came out. After working as an orientation assistant for several summers, I realized that I enjoyed helping students. So I finished my undergraduate degree in broadcast journalism and enrolled at the University of North Dakota where I completed a graduate degree in educational leadership. After working for four years as a UW-Eau Claire residence hall director, I had the opportunity to become an academic advisor. I enjoy seeing students be successful at the university as well as the problem solving that comes with this job..
The coolest thing I am working on this summer is . . . . well, it's probably not all that cool, but I really enjoy looking at numbers and making sense of them. My day-to-day activities involve working with a lot of spreadsheets.
My favorite thing to do on campus is . . . exploring campus. I have been a student and a staff member at UW-Eau Claire for the better part of 13 years and I'm still discovering things that I hadn’t noticed before.
People are often surprised to learn . . . that I DJ’ed some of my friends’ weddings. I've been told I have a knack for picking out the right songs for the occasion.
When I'm not working, you will find me . . . doing a lot of different things, such as going to trivia or exploring Eau Claire on foot.
If I could go anywhere in the world, I would go to  . . .  New Zealand.  I think it would be cool to see where they filmed Lord of the Rings.
My favorite sports teams are . . . it’s hard to pick just one, so I’ll pick my favorite team from each of the sports I follow: football: Green Bay Packers; baseball: Milwaukee Brewers; hockey: Minnesota Wild, and soccer: MN United.

Introducing the Class of 2023! Meet your classmates, business faculty and staff members, your advisors, and some of the college's student leaders at the COB Academic Mixer on Tuesday, September 3 from 1:00-2:15 pm in Schneider Hall. Watch your email for more details