Experiencing the stepping stone

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Students are constantly told internships spark careers. But this process can be stressful.

On career day at UW-Eau Claire, hundreds of students on campus don suits and professional dresses with the hopes of obtaining a career spark.

Then there is the interview process, and even if a student is lucky enough to get the job they want, the list of duties can be long and overwhelming.

However, in the midst of all the stress an internship can cause, some students also make the most of it and enjoy the challenge ahead of them.

Eau Claire students have the opportunity to pursue an abundance of internships during their college stay, and the area and school have no shortages of internship connections.

Cody Sanoy was one student who made the most of his internship opportunity after he stumbled upon it on career day in the fall of 2012.

Sanoy, a senior focusing on a career in sales and minoring in entrepreneurship, worked at College Pro Painters last summer, where he got to manage his own business. He was a franchisee, meaning he had to buy the rights to the franchise of the leadership and development program.

Sanoy said he learned with a step-by-step approach, and had to hire and manage 14  employees. He said even though there were sometimes challenges, the summer was a blast for him.

“It was just awesome to run my business,” Sanoy said. “I felt great about myself. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, and I never saw it happening this early in my life. Just having it be as successful as it was is really exciting and fulfilling.”

While Sanoy made money this summer, there are many internships on the market without a lot of pay, if any.

Erica Ramaker, a senior marketing major, spent a stint interning with the Eau Claire Express baseball team as a marketing intern, taking care of the team’s apparel wagon as well as dealing with game day sponsors.

She didn’t get a lot of financial compensation: only $500 over the summer with about 60-hour weeks. However, she said there were a lot perks involved with the job that made up for it.

“You get all the food you want, which was a big plus,” Ramaker said with a laugh. “I didn’t go grocery shopping.”

Ramaker also said, more importantly, she got a great experience with the job by dealing with corporate businesses and the professional world.

“But overall, the experience you get is totally worth it,” she said. “It’s a long summer, but I couldn’t imagine getting a better experience with the internship.”

Senior computer science major Ben Singer spent the summer as a software development intern for Help Systems, and also said the experience he gained was vital to him.

“The fact that I was doing real work for real people and they actually applied my work to theirs is what made it a memorable experience for me,” Singer said.

But as the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end. As enjoyable as some internships may be, they also help make students ready to tackle the real world and its job market post-graduation.

For Ramaker, she said with everything she learned working with the Express this summer, it shouldn’t be a problem.

“Now I feel like I’m definitely ready to have the experience needed for a job, and I also have experience to talk about during my interview,” Ramaker said. “So I definitely have a better chance at getting the job I want.”

Stressful? Perhaps, but as these three students have all said, internships at this university and in the area can not only lead to bigger and better things, but they can also create experiences that can be carried forever.

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