UWP graduate gains real-world experience through internships

Published: December 8, 2017
By: Derek Fye

Zachery RoethlisbergerOne of the most important things students can do when they are looking toward graduation and beyond, is to get their name out there and to gain experience in the career field they are pursuing. Recent UW-Parkside graduate Zachery Roethlisberger is an excellent example of getting real-world experience in his chosen field, to improve his chances of achieving his ultimate career goals. He is from Midland, Mich., and graduated from Saginaw Swan Valley High School in 2012.

Roethlisberger graduated from UW-Parkside in spring 2017 with a B.A. in communication. He has wasted no time in exploring and pursuing exciting opportunities that will help build his resume and provide real-world experience. Roethlisberger is currently working as a research and data intern for Sports Illustrated and as a showcase intern for Johnson Controls.

He answered questions about how he found out about these opportunities, what they have taught him, his goals for the future, and the importance of experience.

How did you learn about these opportunities?

During the spring of 2016, I submitted multiple applications to different companies in the Milwaukee area and was contacted by a recruiter from Johnson Controls for another position that I did not end up getting. However, I made an impression on the recruiter because a few months later, she contacted me for a different position that was opening within Johnson Controls. I applied for the position, went through two rounds of interviews, and eventually landed this position.

For Sports Illustrated, I started following Andy Benoit, an NFL writer, earlier this year. In August, he was searching for a research and data intern, so I applied for the position. Mr. Benoit had potential candidates analyze and interpret various NFL data and statistics. Ultimately, I landed this position as well.

What do you feel is the most surprising or important thing you have learned at each of these internships?

When I was a UW-Parkside student, I admit that time management and organization skills were not my strong suits. However, I have acquired time management and organization skills as well as other valuable professional skills from these internships. I manage and organize my days and weeks so I can complete everything that needs to get done. Being able to prioritize and then execute has been key in attacking both of these roles at the same time. Managing your time throughout the week becomes a burden, but ultimately feels great when you accomplish everything you need to in a given week. 

What are your goals for the future?

Landing a full-time position right now is my ultimate goal. The reason why I have gathered so much internship experience is to put myself in a better position to land a full-time opportunity for a large company within the Milwaukee or Chicago area. My goal then is to go back to school for my M.B.A. and to continue growing as a person and professional as much as I can.

What advice would you give to students entering or preparing to enter the job market?

Start looking for internship experiences in your second or third year of school. As a UW-Parkside student, you have an advantage in acquiring internships because we are located between Chicago and Milwaukee and these cities have plenty of opportunities. For students interested in communications, just going to school is not enough to land a stable professional career upon graduation. Yes, you may be working part time on the side, but you need to find at least 10 to 15 hours a week to squeeze into an internship as well, even if it is unpaid. The more internship experience you gain, the more it will snowball into more opportunities. Do not let yourself get behind by not gaining any career experience through school. More and more people are getting bachelor’s degrees today, and you need to be ahead of your competition in the job market.

What have you learned since graduation that you wish you knew earlier?

The importance of making quality connections and relationships. As somebody who moved here from Michigan, I did not have the luxury of using my friends growing up or family for opportunities. I had to create them on my own. Going out and shaking hands and making conversation will allow you to open more doors. I was not fully aware of this through my first few years of school, and I did not see the importance of doing this until later in my schooling. 

Why is it important to put yourself out there and gain as much experience as possible? How can one go about doing that?

Research, apply for, and garner as many internships and career-building opportunities as you can while in college. Not only will this give you interview experience that so many students lack coming out of college, but it will help lead you to what you want to do with your career. I personally have made multiple mistakes in interviews and have been rejected many more times than I would like to admit. I feel so many students are afraid to put themselves out there in fear of rejection and my response to that is, so what? The worst you are going to be told is no and you can carry that experience on to the next interview and correct your mistakes. Do not be afraid of failure and making mistakes because you are going to fail multiple times and make countless mistakes throughout your career.

Internships also give you the ability to find out what your strengths and weaknesses are and what career avenue you would like to pursue. You may have an idea of what you want to do with your career, but until you go out and actually do it, you have most likely have no idea or could use some experience to be sure.

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