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Students gearing up for spring career conference

| Judy Berthiaume

UW-Eau Claire students are polishing their resumes, practicing their interviewing skills and researching potential employers as they prepare to make the most of the university’s 2018 Spring Career Conference.

More than 120 employers will be on UW-Eau Claire’s campus to talk with students about internships and full-time jobs during the event, which will run from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 14 in Davies Center.

“Many students do make connections during the career conference that lead to internship and job opportunities,” says Staci Heidtke, associate director of Career Services. “However, we encourage all students — even those not yet ready to pursue internships or jobs — to attend because it gives them a chance to practice their networking skills, and it helps students see the diversity of opportunities that are available to them.”

Career Services offers a series of workshops leading up to the conference that focus on things like writing resumes and cover letters, interviewing, networking and negotiating salaries.

This year for the first time, Career Services also is offering a series of 30-minute webinars that will help prepare students as they search for and evaluate potential internships and jobs.

“Our goal is for students to feel prepared and confident as they share information, ask questions and begin evaluating opportunities with specific businesses or organizations,” Heidtke says.

Some Blugolds begin attending the career conferences their freshman year, hoping to make connections early that will eventually lead to internships and future employment, Heidtke says, noting that 61 percent of UW-Eau Claire students participate in at least one internship before they graduate.

Other students wait until their graduation nears, looking to make contacts that will lead to follow-up interviews and job offers, she said.

Mathew M. Guenther, who graduated in 2017 with a degree in applied materials science, says the career conferences gave him opportunities to share his resume widely and to make connections with prospective employers.

He met the human resources representative from Five Star Plastics during both conferences he attended during his last semesters at UW-Eau Claire. He now works as a quality engineer for the Eau Claire company.

“My best advice for current students is to use your resources on campus,” Guenther says. “Academic advisors and career counselors are there to help you, and having another person review your resume is extremely helpful. I really believe that the help I received from my academic advisor, Dr. Elizabeth Glogowski, and Staci Heidtke made me stand out from other applicants.”

Employers at the career conferences include businesses, industries and organizations of varying types and sizes, all of whom already have a high opinion of UW-Eau Claire graduates, Heidtke says.

“Employers tell us they are interested in hiring Blugolds because they graduate with a strong academic base, as well as the kinds of critical thinking and problem solving skills employers value,” Heidtke says.

Knowing that the employers attending the career conference already have a positive impression of Blugolds makes it that much easier for students to engage with them, says Destiny Cobbs, a senior management major.

“One of the greatest things is that you know these companies are looking for UWEC students versus us blindly searching the internet for internships,” says Cobbs.

During a UW-Eau Claire career conference last year, Cobbs connected with a representative from Target Corp., a connection that led to a summer internship in the Twin Cities, and then an extended yearlong internship at Target’s Eau Claire store.

Cobbs already has accepted a full-time position with Target, which she will begin after her May graduation.

“Whether an internship results in a full-time job offer or not, they allow students to gain experience and test out the company,” Cobbs says. “It is important for a student to want to work for the company just as much as the company may want the student.”

The 2018 spring Career Conference comes as a National Association of Colleges and Employers jobs outlook report indicates that employers plan to hire 4 percent more new graduates for their U.S. operations from the class of 2018 than they did from the class of 2017.

“Clearly, that’s good news for our students,” Heidtke says. “They are entering the workforce at a time when organizations are hiring and are looking to new college graduates to fill many of those positions.”

For more information about the spring Career Conference or the workshops, webinars and other programs leading up to the conference, contact Staci Heidtke, associate director of the Career Center, at 715-836-2261 or