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7 summer learning opportunities at UW-Eau Claire

| Denise Olson

Photo caption: Sophomore Easton Blissenbach (left) and senior Jocelyn Stepanek, both biology/microbiology majors, are spending the summer conducting an ongoing biology study in the lab of Dr. Jamie Lyman Gingerich. As the only two summer researchers in the lab, they cite the advantage of accelerating both their learning and skill development, as well as the pace of the research itself.

At the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the summer months provide a needed break for many, but there are some Blugolds who seize the unique learning opportunities offered during the summer to advance their credits or other degree plan requirements. Others choose to use the semester break to pursue the out-of-classroom learning experiences that have come to exemplify the transformative nature of a Blugold education. 

Find out a few of the ways students at all levels of their college journey are turning "summer break" into "summer blast" through classes, projects, travel, jobs and more.  

1) Summer Session classes 

Let's start with the most traditional summer learning experience: enrollment in summer courses. UW-Eau Claire has summer classes ranging from one to eight weeks, all offering the unique summer advantages of smaller class sizes and targeted study concentration with longer daily class sessions. 

Total enrollment for summer 2022 was 2,424 at the Eau Claire campus and 37 at the Barron County campus. Each summer the course offerings change, but students can always count on a different class experience that allows them to dive much deeper into topics and disciplines in a shorter time frame, an aspect of summer school that appeals to many learners. 

female student at pottery wheel

Lu Markquart, a May 2023 high school graduate from Eau Claire, enrolled in a summer ceramics class at UW-Eau Claire to further pursue their passion for the art form. Markquart also is completing an apprenticeship in a local pottery shop.

Students may enroll in the equivalent of one credit per week, accumulating up to 11 credits over the summer; registration typically runs from late February into March. Visit the Summer Session webpage for more details, a link to courses offered and information about financial aid for summer session. 

2) Summer internships 

Grace Olson, female NCUR research student sitting at a desk, long blond hair, smiling.

Accounting and information systems major Grace Olson secured a summer accounting internship in northern Wisconsin and the firm offered her a full-time position upon her graduation.

Summer is a perfect time to complete an internship, a requirement in some degree plans and a sought-after pre-professional experience for nearly any major. 

This summer, 342 Blugolds have been working as interns locally, statewide or nationally. Of that total, 221 are earning academic credit as interns, data tracked by the Registrar's Office and student or academic department profiles in Handshake, the campus job search engine. 

More information about internships can be found on the general internships resource page of the Career Services website. Another excellent place to start an internship search is through the faculty in our academic departments; they are experts with national and even international connections who might have a line on the perfect internship opportunity.   

3) Study abroad 

The summer months often are the ideal time for Blugold students to incorporate one of our many study abroad programs, especially students in more tightly structured degree plan progressions that make a full semester away more challenging to schedule. 

Student standing in a mountain vista, sunny day snow capped mountains

Julia Wopat, a recent rehabilitation science graduate, enjoyed a study abroad experience in New Zealand.

Summer enrollment for 2023 saw 94 students placed in 16 distinct summer study abroad programs in 18 different countries. Some examples of the exciting locations where Blugolds have studied are Costa Rica, Chile, England, Spain, Argentina, Hungary, Poland, Austria, Germany, Italy, Scotland and Mexico. 

girls with ice cream cones on a cobblestone street in Spain

Some Blugold friends studying in Valladolid, Spain, taking an ice cream break.

It is worth noting that 70% of recent summer study abroad scholarship applicants received an award, so this often life-changing experience can be attainable for many interested students. 

For the full list of programs available, see the study abroad app, and be sure to reach out to your academic advisor during your first semester to express interest in working this amazing opportunity into your degree plan. Contact the Center for International Education with questions or to begin your planning. 

4) Immersion programs 

Blugolds (from left) Samantha Maurer, Bekah Henn and Alyssa Hanson biked in the Wachau Valley during a summer immersion program in Central Europe. They visited multiple countries, learning about the history and culture of the region.

Blugolds (from left) Samantha Maurer, Bekah Henn and Alyssa Hanson biked in the Wachau Valley during a summer immersion program in Central Europe. They visited multiple countries, learning about the history and culture of the region.

If crossing the globe for much of the summer is not what you are looking for, UW-Eau Claire offers several faculty-led domestic and international cultural immersion programs every summer. These enriching experiences run from one to three weeks in length and are tied to for-credit courses that often involve several weeks or longer of history and culture studies to prepare. These immersions often are an interdisciplinary academic program combining faculty expertise in a range of subject areas. 

Blugold immersion experiences include a wide range of topics, academic disciplines, locations and durations. Impactful experiences in recent years include: 

  • The study of Indigenous culture and the ecological impact of tourism in Hawaii. 
  • A deep dive into the complex histories, cultures, politics, arts and music in Central Europe.
  • A tour through the American Deep South visiting key locations and experts related to the Civil Rights Movement. 
  • The study of social and environmental justice in Guatemala. 
  • A cultural and historical examination of race relations and society in South Africa.

For a complete picture of all the types of immersions available during the summer, including domestic and international faculty-led research programs, visit the immersion experiences website.

5) Collaborative student-faculty research 

If you are the type of student who really likes to dig deep into a project that interests you, summer collaborative research at UW-Eau Claire is a great way to pursue an interest or curiosity while building some seriously useful academic skills and relationships.   

Collaborative research takes many forms at UW-Eau Claire, from joining an ongoing project on a team of researchers who have worked with a faculty member for several semesters to a new project sparked by a student expressing a topic of interest to a professor who agrees to become a mentor. These student-faculty projects are another unique summer opportunity for Blugolds looking to expand their knowledge, build a resume or enhance their prospects in the graduate school applicant pool. 

From our Blugold Biomedical Innovator Scholars, who commit to four years of biomedical research, to students in any discipline seeking high-impact experiences to bolster and apply their classroom knowledge, summer research allows focus on a narrow area of discovery and continual engagement in learning between semesters. 

To find out more about available collaborative research experiences (no prior research background required), reach out to faculty in your classes, ask a friend how they got involved or contact the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs to find out about ongoing and funded research projects seeking more student research interns. Some of these are even paid positions! 

students on a rocky beach using geothermal radar in New Zealand

Geography students Zachary Blackert, Maggie Guetschow and Katherine Vandenberg conducted geomorphic research in New Zealand in June 2023 as part of a research project with Dr. Harry Jol.

6) Service-learning summer projects 

For all Blugold students, a total of 30 hours of community-based volunteer work is a requirement for graduation. As a public university, UW-Eau Claire plays an important role in educating engaged and civically active young adults who graduate with the skills, experience and ongoing desire to give back to their communities. Service-earning helps us meet this goal while also providing a way to learn skills, investigate careers and build a personal network. 

Each summer, an average of 75 students use the summer months to complete some or all of these required hours, many with the added benefit of being able to work on a project outdoors while enjoying the great Wisconsin summer weather. 

Visit the service-learning website to learn more and to see some past project examples. Students are required to find and propose a project for approval, so it's nice to start thinking about options early and have a long-term plan to complete this important requirement well in advance of graduation. 

7) Summer employment on campus

For those students with summer housing in Eau Claire, a campus job is another excellent way to remain connected to campus, your friends and many of the campus resources, all while earning an income. Creating a profile on Handshake will allow access to campus job postings in places like Blugold Dining, Human Development Center summer programs, McIntyre Library, University Centers, camps and conferences, the Event Production Crew and more. 

Maria Derrider operating stage lighting for campus mall concert

Student staff with the Event Production Crew play an important role every year in staffing the technology needs for summer events, from weddings and conferences to outdoor summer music events.