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Monthly Archive for July, 2010

Target

Alexandra Bourke
BBA: Human Resources

Target is a company that has a large focus on leadership development, along with being the best company ever. When many students think of an internship, they think of filing paper, refilling coffee, and making copies. The internship program at Target could not be farther from that. I have spent the first half of my ten-week internship learning and working in various areas of the store, and the second half is spent on a special project that focuses on improving the store specifically and possibly even improving Target’s fast, fun, and friendly culture.
The biggest challenge I faced transitioning from a college student to an executive intern was definitely the fact that I had no Target or retail experience in the past. However, as the internship progressed, I realized it was not a challenge at all. Tasks can be learned, it is energy, and passion that can’t be. In my position, I am a leader in the store. I have leadership experience daily in the forms of leader on duty, helping team members, and assisting guests in various areas of the store. In five short weeks I have gained leadership beyond what I imagined, and a love for business. In Target, the fast, fun, and friendly attitude is something that you see on all levels of our team. The team members are willing to lend a helping hand or a listening ear to anyone that needs it. I am honored to be a part of this team!

Financial Planning internship

Kiersten Beecroft
Finance & Human Resources Management
I am currently a Financial Planning Intern with Thome Benefit Solutions, a financial services provider that offers financial strategies and products to clients, including insurance, investments and retirement planning services. As an intern working alongside principal financial professional and president of Thome Benefit Solutions, Kate Thome, I have the opportunity to experience many of the different aspects and perform many of the responsibilities involved in operating a financial services business.
I am responsible for completing a variety of different tasks that are different every time I come to work. That’s one aspect of being an intern at Thome Benefit Solutions that I really enjoy; each day I do something different and learn something new, which keeps the experience interesting and fun. My responsibilities so far include preparation of client presentations and account documents, client file organization and maintenance, and communication with various clients, producers, and vendors. I have recently started working on an e-newsletter project that will be my responsibility to oversee the process of getting it distributed to Kate’s clients.
My experience has been very positive and rewarding in providing me with new knowledge, hands-on experience, and personal growth. Among other things, it has helped me improve my communication skills and gain confidence in my ability to apply some of the knowledge I’ve learned in my College of Business courses to actual business scenarios.
It has also helped me realize how operating a business involves many different aspects and requires much more learning in addition to what I have already gained from classroom instruction. I believe this internship experience will continue to provide me with valuable knowledge and help me further develop skills that will be very beneficial to a career in finance.
The biggest challenge I have faced so far is remaining organized and keeping on task. I will be given 3-4 projects at a time, and then other additional things will come up, so it is important to prioritize in order to get everything done in a timely manner.

Northwestern Mutual Financial Network – The Holter Group

Jeffrey Magedanz
BBA: Marketing
Northwestern Mutual Financial Network is a Mutual Insurance company based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The company has been in existence since 1857 and provides several financial services, including life insurance, long-term care insurance, disability insurance, annuity services, mutual funds, and employee benefit services. The company is the largest individual life insurance provider in the country, and has maintained the highest ratings possible for insurance financial strength from each of the 4 major rating agencies. Among these rating agencies, A.M. Best, Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch Ratings all awarded Northwestern Mutual with the highest possible rating level. Northwestern Mutual IS the standard that other insurance companies strive to achieve.

Northwestern Mutual has been financially strong enough that they have been able to pay out a dividend to their policy owners every year and have never had to take a government bailout to ensure their stability. The company was largely un-phased by the financial downturn of 2008, and was still able to provide its policyholders with an increased divided from 2007 to 2008. While many companies have been laying off employees or making wage reductions in the wake of the financial recession, Northwestern Mutual increased their hiring rates of new Financial Representatives in 2009-2010 by planning on adding nearly 3,000 new reps nation-wide, understanding that in order to grow their business, the financial representative is the one who must participate on the front lines. The company is the strongest in its industry and intends to remain that way with a commitment to growth, and first rate training of new employees to ensure a confident and versatile sales force.

As a financial representative with Northwestern Mutual it is my job to help my clients achieve financial security in life. Financial security means different things to different people at different times in their lives, generally it addresses such issues as dying too young, becoming sick or injured where you are unable to earn a paycheck, and addressing certain financial planning ideas for the future such as retirement and estate planning. As a financial representative I act as a conduit between my clients and the different products and services that Northwestern Mutual has to offer, I create individual accounts and help to service them as needed throughout the length of their contracts.

I have learned a lot about the products and services offered through the Financial Services industry, as well as the importance of believing in the products that you are selling. I have had the opportunity to go on meetings with several full time representatives and hear their different styles of selling, which have helped me to develop my own language when meeting with potential clients. I have also learned how to handle objections and rejection in general, there are many days where I will make 40 phone calls and only set meetings with 2 or 3 prospects, and it can sometimes be difficult and frustrating to deal with. This internship has already done a great job of teaching me to manage my time effectively, and is really giving me a crash course in how to run my own business.

Wenger Roofing and Sheet Metal

Benjamin Richardson
BBA – Economics
Graduating: December 2010
Wenger Roofing & Sheet Metal is in the market of both commercial and residential roofs, flat roofs, sheet metal and siding. Wenger is a growing family business with a welcoming atmosphere. Unlike much of their competition, they are professional in all aspects of the business from start to finish. Each client is treated with respect regardless of their needs even when it is evident that Wenger will not be the lowest bid for a job, the importance of giving a potential client the courtesy they deserve shines through. This has paid off since Wenger has received clients based on the treatment they received in the past. They also repair their competitor’s roofs when things go wrong; even though Wenger did not have the winning bid originally, they benefit from the trust they have created and will maintain. The way Wenger treats its customers has led to success through the tough economic times we are currently facing. While competition struggles, Wenger is on schedule to increase the jobs they complete this year in comparison to last year. The increasing business has caused Jake Wenger, my supervisor and Vice President, to look for ways to decrease the time between bids and costs associated with bidding turnover. Jake, a UW-Oshkosh graduate, had been looking for a way to pay it forward as an alumnus. He made room in the business for an intern to create data mining resources for Wenger.

This is a project based internship, the breadth of which is creating a working database Wenger can use to structure around the core of their business’ prospective jobs, job in progress, completed jobs and the costs/revenue, forms/reports and tasks associated with each. Other assignments include creating excel spreadsheets for financial management, researching prospective software packages, helping to define various internal processes and researching potential new markets.

Up to this point I have created a few financial spreadsheets and finished the first phase of the database project with customized forms and reports specific to Wenger’s needs. It was an exciting moment when I received an email from Jake officially informing his staff about implementing my work into the company. I am currently researching a software package called GoldMine, if implemented this program would be used to organize and streamline contact between Wenger and its clients.

My internship with Wenger is a unique experience. I work alongside Jake as he calls the shots and explains his decisions. Jake has taken me to job sites and let me shadow him providing a great chance to watch and learn as he handles the everyday obstacles of business such as: employee issues, time constraints and handling the ups and downs of enterprise. All of this has given me a real world view of what I can expect to see in my post graduation employment. The learning experiences I’ve received from watching and listening to an entrepreneur run business is likely unmatched by many other interns.
In the next few weeks I will be working to finish up the second and third phases of the database and it is important this project be completed before my internship is over. The database must be fully functional to replace some of the paperwork currently used, to decrease costs and increase the amount of bids Wenger can output daily. I will also be creating templates for streamlining and automating the job bidding processes.

So far this internship has challenged me to learn on the go and use my knowledge to help garner Wenger’s future potential. It feels as though I have gained more than I have been able to give and I am thankful to both Jake and Wenger Roofing & Sheet Metal for that. I expect the second half of my internship to be demanding, but I am looking forward to the experiences and knowledge I will acquire.


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