For most students, the last week of senior year is a whirlwind of final exams, saying goodbye to friends and preparing to move away to start your adult life. It’s a period of closure, excitement and a whole lot of uncertainty — especially when it comes to securing a post-college job.
But these four soon-to-be UW-Eau Claire alums went above and beyond to obtain full-time positions weeks before graduation day.
These outstanding Blugolds each took their own path through their college careers, but they all have invaluable experiences, insight and advice to share with the UW-Eau Claire community.
For Erik Kronholm, an internship with Marshfield Clinic Information Systems proved to be more than just a summer job. In early August of this year, he was hired by the company as a programmer and analyst on their Patient Portal Team in Marshfield.
Erik is a computer science, software engineering major with an information systems minor from Wisconsin Rapids. He first learned about the internship by attending the computer science department’s annual Career Breakfast, where students can network with recruiters in the field. In addition to his internship, he said his experiences working with Learning and Technology Services made him a more qualified candidate than the other applicants for his position.
“I think that being a student lead through LTS at UW-Eau Claire really set me apart,” Erik said. “Through LTS, I was able to take a lead role among the student staff at the Help Desk. I felt this opportunity allowed me to better talk and interact with clients from various backgrounds, take an active approach assisting clients, and also be a positive role model to others.”
Erik said his last semester has been the toughest yet, but knowing he had a job secured for him took a weight off his shoulders. For other students searching for a job, Erik said he encourages them to apply for positions they’re afraid they may not qualify for.
“You can always teach someone a skill set. But it’s the underlying principles of hard work, honesty and determination that will really stick out,” Erik said. “I feel that UW-Eau Claire really showed me my strengths and weaknesses as well as taught me those values through its courses and community.”
Ryan Wisherd’s advice for current students is to get out of their comfort zone when applying for post-college jobs.
“Explore all of your options. You may only want to look at companies that you’re familiar with, or your top few choices, but if you apply to everything within your major you might find somewhere great that you wouldn’t expect,” Ryan said. “It’s also nice to have a lot of options so you don’t feel stuck at once place.”
The strategy certainly worked for him. At the UW-Eau Claire Career Conference last fall, Ryan learned about a company called Foremost Farms USA, a cheese and dairy products supplier based in Baraboo. He applied for and secured an internship with the company this summer, and in August, he accepted an offer to come back to the company after graduation as a transportation analyst.
Ryan is a comprehensive management, operations and supply chain management major from Rosemount, Minnesota. In his new position he will schedule shipments between plants and customers while working to automate the process. Once he gets the transportation system up and running, he’ll focus on analyzing it to improve the process.
While his education at UW-Eau Claire and his internship with Foremost Farms undoubtedly prepared him for his position, Ryan said his extracurricular opportunities as a Blugold gave him an edge on the competition.
“Being in DECA and the Association for Operations Management gave me the opportunity to become better at working with teams when I participated in the many competitions they offered,” Ryan said. “And working as a building manager in Davies Center allowed me to develop my leadership skills.”
With a tough last semester and all of those organizations to juggle, it’s not surprising that Ryan said securing a job before graduation was “a big relief.”
“It took a lot of pressure off my plate, especially during Career Conference week,” Ryan said. “I was able to put a lot more focus on my schoolwork and my student organizations — 10/10 would recommend!”
Abby Kielman always has been heavily involved as a Blugold. Since her freshman year, she has participated in residence hall councils and multiple academic honor societies. She also has served as a senator, Academic Affairs Commission director and chief of staff on Student Senate, while also devoting time to her sorority, Sigma Sigma Sigma.
These extracurricular efforts have definitely paid off. Her involvement, particularly in Student Senate, pushed her to develop her professional skills — skills that Abby said were seen as valuable to her future employers.
“I would say that my involvement in Student Senate and holding officer and leadership positions within that organization really benefited me,” Abby said. “I was able to make connections with influential people, refine my organization and communication skills and learn how to manage, support and mentor others.”
Abby, a comprehensive management major from Suamico, was hired as a district manager with ALDI this August following an internship she secured with the company. In her position, she will undergo a yearlong training process of serving as a store manager and shadowing numerous district managers. After that first year, she will obtain her own district of 3-5 ALDI stores to manage, oversee and supervise.
Abby said knowing she had a full-time position waiting for her after graduation made her less worried about her last semester, allowing her to focus on classes and making lasting memories with her Blugold family.
When it comes to finding success after graduation, Abby said it’s just as important to work on your attitude as your resume.
“Having a positive attitude, friendly aura and approachable personality will get you further than you think,” Abby said. “A smile goes a long way, a helping hand means more than you know and a simple please or thank you will get you noticed, whether you know it or not. Put yourself out there, don’t be afraid to take risks, be kind, network and realize your attitude can make or break your first impression with employers — this could make the difference between getting a job offer or not.”
Katie Martinek’s job will take her far from home to work on an issue that’s close to her heart.
After graduating, Katie will move to Eugene, Oregon, to join the Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center as a recovery coach. The position will allow her to serve as a mentor for people who have or are recovering from eating disorders in both inpatient and outpatient settings.
After a National Student Exchange experience at the University of Oregon, Katie knew it was where she wanted to return after graduation. When she found a listing online for her job position, she jumped at the opportunity. She was hired this November.
Katie, a comprehensive kinesiology-human performance, pre-professional major from Lakeville, Minnesota, said her opportunities in the kinesiology program put her ahead of the other candidates.
“Being a part of this program has given me so many cool experiences and opportunities, such as being a trainer in the Community Fitness Program and doing an internship at a therapy clinic,” Katie said.
Katie said she took advantage of the advice and opinions of faculty members in the kinesiology department when applying for and preparing to interview for her position. Their help allowed her to better reflect on her undergraduate experience.
Like many students, Katie faced several disappointments before landing her job. Her advice to other students? Their dream job is still out there.
“It took me a few tries, but I found the job that fits me, and I’m very excited about that. You can find that job, too,” Katie said. “Also, focus on getting experience and highlighting that experience to future employers. Work on building your resume and working on yourself as a person.”