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Internship Spotlight: Kevin Hockerman, Northwestern Mutual

Company Overview:

I am currently interning at Northwestern Mutual in Menominee Falls. I work as a Financial Representative that consists of providing expert guidance and innovative solutions for the lifetime financial needs of individuals and businesses in the areas of retirement solutions and insurance services.

There are many things that I did not know that Northwestern Mutual did before I started working for the company. Northwestern Mutual conducts fact-finders with their clients to gain an insight on their personal, professional, and financial goals and dreams. This allows them to build a complete plan not only assessing the current things their clients have in place, but also helping build towards future needs. Northwestern Mutual assesses a client’s risk management, then moves to their wealth accumulation, and finally focuses on their wealth preservation and distribution as the client moves from the start of their career all the way through retirement.

Obtaining My Internship:

I obtained my internship by first gathering a list of companies that I wanted to speak with at the career fair. Northwestern Mutual was one of the main companies that I wanted to speak with because of their top 10-ranked internship program. I was initially nervous to talk them but I found them very easy to approach.

After meeting them at the career fair I sent them a thank-you email. They responded saying that they would like me to send them my resume and continued by following up and setting up a phone interview. Through the phone interview, they said they liked me as a candidate and discussed the hiring process with me. To follow-up, I had to take a personality test to see if I was a good fit with their company. Once I passed this test I had to go in for an interview. At the interview, after a few questions about myself, my potential supervisor presented me with a project. The project would give me an insight into the job opportunity. It was a questionnaire to ask my closest friends and family of what they would want out of a financial advisor. They also had me complete a project to see what kind of network I have established. The final interview included me presenting my findings from these projects. I had to show that I had a well-established network, and then present the surveys and questionnaires I had answered. From the surveys and questionnaires, I was able to understand the type of work I would be doing with Northwestern Mutual. This helped give me an insight into the internship and helped me understand that this company was a good fit for me.

What I Learned:

Through my internship at Northwestern Mutual, I have learned a lot. I have gained real world experiences that I could not have learned in class that I can apply towards any career path I choose. I have learned how to interact professionally with clients, building my overall interpersonal skills. I learned how to present myself in a professional manner, both in person and over the phone. The most important personal gain I have taken away from this internship is being able to understand how important motivation is. This internship taught me how to motivate myself and continue to be highly productive while being independent. This alone was very important to me because it helped me understand what I was capable of.

I also gained more skills through my internship. I learned a lot about the financial industry and now have a large understanding of life insurance, health insurance, and retirement planning. I also gained some insight on investments. Overall, I gained further skills in financing and understanding how to properly allocate my money.

This internship has been a very rewarding experience. I was able to work in a professional environment, and work full-time while taking on full-time responsibilities. This was a great experience to be able to have these types of responsibilities while only being an intern. All of the skills I gathered from this internship will be ones I can implement throughout my career. I highly recommend this internship as it is extremely beneficial and a very rewarding experience.

Internship Spotlight: Ashley Nealon, FreightConnections

Ashley Nealon Finance Major

How I obtained my position:

I am currently a Finance Intern at FreightConnections, Inc. in Menasha. I have also worked at Career Services for four semesters and obtained my job through our database, Titan Jobs. After submitting my resume and completing a job interview, I was offered to start the training process for my position.

Going into the internship:

An internship is not just a normal part-time job; it is the start to a professional career. I started this role in August, and was extremely nervous on my first day. I was afraid of being overwhelmed and lost when fulfilling my duties. But, my emotions were quickly calmed after meeting all of the welcoming people in the office and feeling comfortable right away.

Connecting with the other interns:

There are three other interns who work in the office from UWO. It is nice to be able to work and communicate with these other interns while we complete projects and tasks, keeping each other on the same page. Another Finance Intern and I are in a same class and choose to work together during our assigned group projects. Developing this relationship at work has positively affected my schoolwork as well.

My new feeling of Finance:

Starting my internship role, I always had a passion to go in to corporate finance. Projecting, budgeting, and analyzing data of a business have consistently been strengths of mine. By being exposed to FreightConnection’s five-year sales forecast, this has proven my projected career path of working in a corporate finance field.

What I wish I would have known:

My one piece of advice to College of Business students is to start looking for internships as early as possible. It is never too early to pursue any opportunity. Also, instead of focusing on getting an internship just to complete the college requirement, look for something that you will actually enjoy doing. It will only make the work and job as a whole more fulfilling. As I stated earlier, this position is essentially the start to a professional career.

Spotlight Internship: Erin Severson, Lakeview Credit Union

Erin Severson, Finance

My name is Erin Severson and I am a Finance Major graduating in December 2012. I am currently interning as a Business Services Specialist at Lakeview Credit Union in Neenah, Wisconsin. Lakeview was founded in 1934 by nine Kimberley Clark employees with the intention of establishing a credit union for the employees of the Lakeview Mill. Originally the organization was run by volunteers. Today the board of directors is still made up of member-volunteers however there are currently 41 paid employees. Lakeview has three branches, two in Neenah and one in Appleton.

How I Obtained the Position:

This June marked my seventh anniversary as an employee of Lakeview Credit Union. My career with Lakeview began as a high school student teller. Over the years, I have experienced working in member services and the accounting department.  When it came time to fulfill my internship requirement for my bachelor’s degree, the organization was very accommodating and offered me a position in the business services department. I began my internship this June and the plan is to stay in the department after graduation this winter.

My Roles and Responsibilities:

As a Business Services Specialist I work with our commercial loan accounts. I am responsible for reviewing each note to be certain that compliance requirements are met.  This includes verifying collateral, working with insurance companies to ensure adequate coverage, and making sure that each file has all of the necessary documentation to support the loan. I also work closely with our credit analyst to compile data for specific reports. I am very excited to continue learning the ins and outs of the department in the coming months.

My Advice:

If I were to re-do my college career, I would look for opportunities to intern in different positions much sooner. I have learned that the more you express your interests and needs the more your employer is willing to expose you to different areas.  Don’t be afraid to network and get to know the employees at all levels of the organization, you may find mentors where you least expect it. In my opinion experiencing different jobs before graduation helps to decide what areas of your major you would like to make a career.

Internship Spotlight: Kimberly Fenske, First State Bank

Kimberly Fenske, Finance

My name is Kimberly Fenske and I work at First State Bank as a Consumer Banking Assistant. First State Bank is an independent community bank which was first built in 1933. There are six branches located in Waupaca, Outagamie, and Shawano counties.  Our main branch location is in New London which is my primary working location. However, I also travel to the other branches in order to fill in while other Consumer Banking Assistants are on vacation.

How I Obtained the Position

I have worked at First State Bank for about four years now.  When I was in high school, I was a co-op student and began my banking career as a teller. After high school, I was able to maintain my teller position while I attended college.

When I was a junior in college, I became a Loan Servicing Assistant. After one year of working in the loans department, I informed Human Resources that I needed to complete an internship in order to satisfy the College of Business requirement. Human Resources immediately started making arrangements in order to fulfill that requirement. After accepting the internship offer as a Consumer Banking Assistant, my training started May 21st.

My Roles and Responsibilities

As a Consumer Banking Assistant, I work with customers to both open and close accounts, complete maintenance on account, start the loan renewal process, complete projects for Senior Management, etc. Each and every day is different when working with customers and their financials.  Whether a customer wants to dispute a transaction on their account or close their Certificate of Deposit, every transaction is different.

Challenges

Since all banks have countless regulations to follow, I am extremely cautious about following compliance policies. Also, working at a bank requires a high degree of professionalism with little margin for error.  Accuracy is key to being successful and gaining the customer’s trust.

When I first started my new position, I was so nervous about making a mistake and it was affecting my efficiency. A coworker confronted me and said, “There is no mistake that can’t be corrected.” This statement helped me gain confidence and I am now more proficient in completing my job responsibilities. Instead of worrying about what mistakes could be made, I focus on completing the job tasks the way I was trained and gaining new knowledge along the way.

Internship Spotlight: Darren Steger, Walt Disney World Resort

Darren Steger, Accounting and Finance Major

Intern Background

My name is Darren Steger and I am currently a senior at UW Oshkosh double majoring in Accounting and Finance along with having an Emphasis in Entrepreneurship.  I am currently participating in a co-op internship working as a Merchandise Planning Professional Intern at the Walt Disney World Resort®.  I am having an experience of a lifetime learning how one of the world’s best entertainment companies brings magical entertainment to life.

Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Company Overview

The Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, FL opened in 1971 and has grown to feature four theme parks – the Magic Kingdom® Park, Epcot®, Disney’s Hollywood Studios®, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park. Also, more than 20 themed resort hotels, two water parks, and the Downtown Disney® Area, a daytime and nighttime entertainment complex, all comprise the Walt Disney World Resort®. Today, the company employs nearly 70,000 “cast members” and provides world class entertainment to millions of visitors each year.

Application Process

The first steps how I began working for Disney started when I applied in early October 2011 at the Disney Professional Internships website.  I then took part in a first round phone interview within a week after I applied.  After the phone interview, I was anxious to work for Disney but then had to wait nearly two months later as in early December I got a phone call from my current leader with a second round interview.  It was difficult to get things in order on such short notice but leaving to par-take in a professional internship with Disney was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort

Merchandise Planning Intern Role

My role consists of analyzing, validating, planning, and executing franchise programs and merchandise promotions.  I am the main contacts in charge of organizing and delegating promotional workflows to ensure they are completed correctly, timely, and efficiently.  Another role I have is in assisting pricing integration with incorporating price changes in Disney’s internal computer system.

An additional task I have is to conduct analyses on promotions by creating reports using internal software systems as well as creating reports using Microsoft Excel.  Promotional analyses are mostly conducted within our division on Disneyland®, Walt Disney World®, Disney Cruise Line®, and the Aulani® Hawaiian resort.

Walt Disney World's Hollywood Studios

I am also currently working on a long-term project with a Junior Pricing Analyst to construct an efficiencies workflow process map for Disney’s promotions.  This process map will be used for future uses after my internship as the map will ensure consistency, accuracy, and organization for promotions throughout the Walt Disney Company®.

At the end of my internship the Junior Pricing Analyst along with myself, will be presenting to my Merchandise Promotions Analytics leader, the Location Planning Managers from Walt Disney World® and Disneyland®, as well as presenting to several other Disney senior merchandise executives.

Advice for Future Interns

My best piece of advice I could possibly give is to build your resume!  Make sure you participate in on campus clubs, volunteer, keep a GPA above 3.0, and have work experience for your employer to effectively evaluate your skills and abilities even if it’s not for the position you are applying for.  Not only are the things important that you do to enhance your resume but how you present your resume is essential as well.

Be sure to proofread your resume several times as well as have your peers give you some constructive criticism on it.  Make your resume appealing and easy for the reader to find information they want.

Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom

The primary reasons why I got the position over hundreds of others was because I had a flawless resume, I dressed up and smiled during my phone interviews, and I wrote a thank you email immediately after the interviews.  Employers pay high attention to detail and doing the little things to exemplify your professional development may set you apart from the competition.

Once you are in a professional intern position, set up “meet and greets” and network with as many professionals as possible.  It’s vital to network within different areas of the business to help you determine where you feel is the best fit for you.  Lastly, go above and beyond to exceed expectations not only in your internship, but challenge yourself to be the person you didn’t think you could be.


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