The next step

Monday night I attended the student-athlete Career Fair. This was a unique opportunity for student-athletes to network with representatives from different companies, most of whom were former UW athletes. I was pretty excited about this event because I'm now in the process of looking for internships and beginning to really think about what I want to do post graduation. I've always been told that networking is one of the best ways to land the job that you want, so my main goal tonight was to talk to as many people, and begin to form as many relationships as possible.

Career Fair 017.jpgPrior to this career fair, I had only been to one other career fair but I assume they are all pretty much the same: a bunch of recruiters from various companies standing at booths and waiting to pitch their companies to eager students. I believe the one thing that set this career fair apart from the others (besides the fact that it's for athletes only) is that it gave the students an opportunity to form relationships with representatives from their top companies by providing a dinner prior to the career fair. 

Going into the career fair, I knew that Altria was going to be there, and since they are my top choice for possible summer internships, I decided to sit at the same table as Joe, the Altria representative, and get to know him a little bit more. Besides me, the other student-athletes that were sitting at my table were three hockey players, Zach Bearson, Ryan Little, and Ben Street. The other two company representatives were Sarah Karcher from Northwestern Mutual and Art Price from the City of Madison Fire Department.

We began the dinner by talking about what careers we all hoped to be pursuing in the near future and the reps talked about their companies and the best way to go about pursuing our careers. Towards the end of the dinner, once we had all of our questions answered, we began talking about various topics from soccer to hockey to the Winter Olympics. I believe this dinner made the career fair a lot less nerve racking because we were able to first meet with some of the reps in a laid back environment.

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After the dinner, the reps went to their booths and the career fair began. Prior to the fair, I jotted down a list of companies that I wanted to talk to so I made sure I went to those companies first. Besides Altria, I wanted to talk with the reps from Brandgarten Inc., Enterprise, Direct Supply, Target, and the Wisconsin Sports Development Corporation. I chose these companies because they all had something to do with sales, marketing, or advertising, which are my fields of interest. 

After speaking with all of those reps, the two companies that interested me the most were Brandgarten Inc. and Enterprise because they were the two companies that dealt more with marketing and advertising. The one cool thing about the Brandgarten people was that Fritz Grutzner, one of the reps, played soccer here at UW with my former coach, as well as went to high school with him. This common interest made getting to know him a lot easier because we were able to break the ice by talking a little about soccer before we talked about the company. I also feel like having soccer as a common interest makes it easier for him to remember me when I contact him about applying for an internship. 

Besides Mr. Grutzner from Brandgarten, I got business cards from a number of reps who told me to contact them with questions about their companies as well as questions about resumes, interviewing, and even help landing a job or internship with another company in which they may know someone who works there. Since many of the reps are former UW athletes, they are more than happy to help fellow UW athletes.  

At the end of my career fair experience, I was really happy with what I walked away with: a number of great contacts and possible internship opportunities. I thought the student-athlete career fair was a great idea because it gave us an opportunity to speak with people who have been in our positions who are in successful careers in many different fields. I recommend this event to all student-athletes because it gives us an opportunity to take time out of our hectic schedules to help us start thinking about or continue thinking about what we would like to do post graduation.

- Whitney Owusu, women's soccer
ON WISCONSIN