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Six internships lead to connections, opportunities for May grad

| Judy Berthiaume

Michelle Shrader has always liked to be busy and involved, so UW-Eau Claire’s emphasis on getting students engaged in high-impact practices was a natural draw when she was considering colleges.

While her high school resume was impressive, even Michelle never expected her college years to include completing six internships — including two in Brazil — and traveling the U.S. and beyond as the leader of a student organization.

“I’m a huge advocate for high-impact practices and truly feel that experiential learning trumps anything that you could learn in a textbook,” says Michelle, a marketing analytics major from Green Lake. “I have been very fortunate for the opportunities I’ve had; they have all shaped me and allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone.

“Being involved on top of my academics has allowed me the opportunity to find what I am truly passionate about and opened the door to so many amazing friends and experiences, plus forced me to be better at time management.”

Michelle already knew she wanted to major in marketing when she arrived on campus her freshman year but she didn’t know exactly what she wanted to do within that field.

“After getting my feet wet in some business classes, it became clear to me that my interests are in understanding the way people think in business and why consumers make certain decisions,” Michelle says. “The classes I have been able to take as a marketing analytics major do exactly that.”

Her classes, Michelle says, have allowed her to be hands on and to understand different tools and techniques for interpreting and defining the consumer's mind.

Her multiple internships provided opportunities to put to use in the real world the knowledge she gained in those classes.

Once she became a Blugold, Michelle wasted no time in pursuing internship opportunities. She landed her first internship the summer after her freshman year when she served as a marketing intern for Curwood Corporate.

“I applied to this internship expecting not to get it as a freshman, but it was one of the most impactful experiences,” Michelle says. “It really showed me that marketing was what I was interested in and allowed me to grow my network immensely.”

Next came her internship with Bemis North America, where she again was a marketing intern, but was based out of Oshkosh.

That internship reinforced her interest in a career in marketing but also convinced her that UW-Eau Claire was preparing her well for future success.

“Working in a Fortune 500 company really showed me how well our university prepares students for the professional world,” Michelle says. “This internship dealt heavily with the analytical side of marketing and was a main deciding factor declaring marketing analytics as my major.”

She continued to build her skills, resume and connections as an outreach intern for Visit Eau Claire.

After three internships close to home, Michelle decided it was time to spread her wings by seeking international opportunities.

Through AIESEC United States, she secured a position in Brazil as a quality control intern.

“With this I had the opportunity to travel all over Brazil to solve quality cases of United States’ college students doing internships in the country,” Michelle says. “This internship definitely challenged my interpersonal communication through having to be comforting and supportive, yet still resolve issues.”

AIESEC is a nonprofit, student-run organization that creates cross-cultural understanding through international exchanges. Michelle served on three executive boards during her time at Eau Claire, and served as the local committee president in 2015.

“AIESEC has given me more than words can express,” Michelle says. “It has given me the ability to dream big, to overcome obstacles and above all, an international family.”

She found her internship in Brazil through AIESEC, the world's largest student run nonprofit organization, which was established as a platform for youth development.

“I figured in order to sell the international exchanges, I better practice what I preach,” Michelle says. “I chose Brazil because I wanted a place that would make me feel complete culture shock. I honestly believe there is no better feeling than experiencing a culture that is so different from your own, yet feel so at home. It is so hard to describe just a few highlights, because it was the most amazing experience. My experience allowed me to be more than a tourist, but rather a global citizen.”

Michelle originally joined AIESEC as a freshman because she wanted to travel, but this organization has given her much more.

“It has truly been the highlight of my college experience,” Michelle says of the organization. “AIESEC has given me the most amazing leadership development, allowed me to travel and to truly understand who I am and my purpose.

“I cannot speak highly enough about the organization. It has been the main talking point of every interview I have ever done and every conversation I have with someone looking to make an impact on the world.”

Michelle recently returned from an AIESEC international leadership conference in Portugal, where she learned how to best facilitate spaces in different kinds of learning environments and the best way to be a catalyst.

The international conferences allow her to understand her strengths, weaknesses and leadership style, but it is also a space where she has the opportunity to learn about people from all over the world, Michelle says, adding that the networking and connections are the best part.

Her internship in South America led to a second Brazil-based internship opportunity, this time as a marketing and public relations intern at APACE-Passo Fundo.

“This one has been my favorite,” Michelle says of APACE. “I had the chance to work in a startup nonprofit and completely build their marketing department,” Michelle says of the experience. “I got to create a marketing plan for the organization and then plan organization recognition fundraisers to raise awareness and funds for APACE.”

APACE's purpose was to help blind people in the community of Passo Fundo feel more integrated, Michelle says. It offered integration activities, such as biking and rappelling, and different kinds of community building classes, she said, noting that she got to participate in many of the events.

“This internship has opened my eyes to the startup world, and the dedication and courage it takes to be an entrepreneur.” Michelle says. “This opportunity opened my eyes to the strengths that I have and what I am capable of, and has pushed me to set goals for myself greater than I had ever imagined before.”

Michelle found her most recent internship opportunity right on UW-Eau Claire’s campus. She is a public relations and outreach intern in UW-Eau Claire’s Career Services office.

Her focus is mostly on Career Services’ outreach, helping with branding and recognition of Career Services' resources, and she leads a variety of workshops and seminars.

After her graduation this month, Michelle will begin a position with Aerotek, a professional staffing and recruiting agency.

“I cannot thank UWEC enough for the number of opportunities it has provided me,” Michelle says. “These opportunities have helped me define who I am and what I am wanting to contribute to the world. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of high-impact practices, and I really hope that every student takes advantage of these practices because they truly do help make the most of your Blugold experience.”

Photo caption: Michelle Shrader completed six internships and was a leader in student organizations during her years as a Blugold.