Business forum offers different perspective

Recent Blugold graduates return, give students career advice


REAL WORLD: Kyle Thorpe, Ellie Fox, Aaron Severson and Emma Carlson, at the table, spoke to UW-Eau Claire students Tuesday about their experiences in the work force. © 2014 Katie Bast

Story by Steve Fruehauf, Sports Editor

Four recent Blugold graduates spoke about their transition from student life into the workforce to kick off UW-Eau Claire’s College of Business 2014 Hot Topics: Marketing Forum Series Tuesday in Schneider Hall.

This is the college’s third year hosting the event. The Department of Management and Marketing, the Center of Sales and Sales Management and the Eau Claire Chapter of Pi Sigma Epsilon all sponsored the forum.

Bob Erffmeyer and Jerry Kollross, director and assistant director of the Center of Sales and Sales Management helped plan the event and contact the speakers. Erffmeyer said he hopes the experience serves as a minor wake up call for the students who attended.

Ellie Fox of GrayBaR, Aaron Severson of Hormel and Kyle Thorpe of Northwestern Mutual, all 2013 graduates, along with Emma Carlson of TEKsystems who graduated in 2012, were the four featured guests and answered questions about their journey this far.

One student who took away useful information was junior marketing major Matt Becker. He said while a lot of the discussion dealt with life after graduation, there were some things he could still apply to the year and a half he has left in Eau Claire.

“One thing they wished they would have done was make more cold calls, or making calls to new clients,” Becker, a member of BUS’s executive board, said. “If they would have done more of that in college, that would have prepared them better for their job experience in the real world.”

He said in his professional marketing class, taught by Kollross, students are expected to do one cold call to prepare for a role-playing portion of the course. While encouraged to make more after, it isn’t mandatory. After listening to the forum speakers, Becker said this is something he plans to focus more on when the time comes.

Fellow junior marketing major Tim Bortner said he really enjoyed the event, especially because the featured speakers were recent Blugold graduates. He said he assumes that’s why the 150-person lecture hall was completely full, forcing some to stand.

“That was the best idea (Erffmeyer and Kollross) ever had, by far. I think that’s why it was a packed house, because everyone could relate to them,” Bortner, PSE’s president and sales team member, said. “That’s where we are all going to be in a year. I thought it was extremely effective.”

He said a major portion of discussion dealt with the interview process, something that especially resonated with him. The speakers talked about being up front and asking for the position applicants are striving for near the end of the interview, Bortner said, especially in marketing and sales.

This tactic forces employers to tell interviewees whether they are a proper fit for their company or not. Rather than the interview being purely about someone’s credentials, it now encompasses their experience, their interviewing ability and what they need to work on.

Bortner, who is interning with Hormel this summer, said he hopes to continue with the company after graduation. He said after attending this forum, he now feels more comfortable about his chances.

One more forum, concerning marketing analytics, will take place on campus before the spring semester is over as part of the 2014 Hot Topics: Forum Series. Anyone interested in attending should reference the college of business webpage affiliated with the university’s homepage or their facebook page.