Nelly Wilson
Through preparation and collaborating with Heavener staff and students, freshman Nelly Wilson obtained a prized internship in Siemens's Finance Leadership Development Program.

Heavener Career Week: A blueprint for success

Less than two months into her UF career, Heavener freshman Nelly Wilson faced the gauntlet that is Heavener Career Week and UF’s Career Showcase. It’s an intimidating week for some undergraduate business students as they inch out of their comfort zones and begin their career journeys.

Wilson successfully navigated that gauntlet last fall, and emerged with an internship at Siemens, a global technology company that reported revenue of approximately $98 billion in fiscal 2014.

As the Spring 2016 edition of Heavener Career Week nears (Jan. 25-29), Wilson shares the blueprint she used to survive those tension-filled days, and land a coveted position at one of the world’s largest corporations.

Step 1: Take advantage of Warrington Welcome

Wilson learned of Warrington Welcome’s value last April when she visited the College, and spoke with Heavener Associate Director Horace Tucker. She enrolled in Warrington Welcome—a one-credit course for freshmen that details the College’s resources and how to maximize them—and was grateful for Tucker’s advice.

“It was one of the most helpful classes,” Wilson said. “It informed me about all the available resources and opportunities, including clubs and activities. I felt reassured that I was on the right track.”

For students who did not enroll in Warrington Welcome, Wilson recommends visiting Warrington Welcome’s website, attending Business Bash and asking Heavener students and staff about how to find opportunities for engagement.

Step 2: Visit with a CAP Mentor

Wilson’s first meeting with a CAP Mentor involved upgrading her résumé, which consisted mainly of high school activities.

Her heart sank a bit as the CAP Mentor deleted the entire list, but it was a necessary task that made Wilson’s résumé look more polished and professional.

Wilson also took advantage of another CAP Mentor service—mock networking sessions. She repeatedly practiced her elevator pitch and networking skills with a CAP Mentor portraying a recruiter.

“All the practice makes the actual meeting less stressful,” Wilson said. “And there’s something special about having a peer guide you and help you succeed.”

Step 3: Identify and research prospective companies

During Warrington Welcome, Wilson completed a “wandering map” exercise to help identify a career path. The exercise revealed an interest in technology, which steered her toward attending information sessions for Siemens and Gartner during Heavener Career Week.

“The wandering map helped separate my hobbies like history, sports, politics and education, from career interests like technology,” Wilson said. “That was incredibly helpful because I think some students struggle being honest with themselves about what they really want to do.”

Check out “You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career” to learn more about wandering maps.

Step 4: Attend Heavener Career Week information session and introduce yourself to recruiters

In preparation for the Siemens and Gartner information sessions, Wilson researched the companies and learned as much as she could about their missions, company cultures and directions. She also paid close attention to the themes emphasized by the recruiters during the sessions.

After the Siemens session, Wilson met with one of three current employees who had all participated in the company’s Finance Leadership Development Program. Wilson inquired about their experience in the program, and asked for advice. She then introduced herself to Siemens’s lead recruiter—a brief interaction that Wilson said paid dividends the next day.

Step 5: Reconnect with company recruiters at UF Career Showcase

While some students were experiencing the anxiety of meeting recruiters for the first time at UF Career Showcase, Wilson was relaxed when she reconnected with the Siemens representative.

“My nerves were calm,” Wilson said. “Having gone through this at Heavener Career Week put me at ease.”

After the second encounter, however, Wilson still questioned whether she had made enough of an impression. So she returned to the Siemens booth about an hour later and met a different recruiter associated with the company’s energy division. It was that in-depth, 10-minute conversation that secured Wilson an interview.
“You have to assess yourself on the spot on how you interacted with the recruiter,” Wilson said. “It didn’t go badly, but it could have been better. I’m glad I went back.”

Step 6: Interview preparation

Wilson was invited for an on-campus interview about 10 days after UF Career Showcase. To prepare, she conducted numerous mock interviews with her mom, gleaned company information from a family friend who worked at Siemens, and again visited with CAP Mentors—where some casual advice became extremely valuable.

“One of them said to brush up on your accounting,” Wilson said. “Sure enough, they asked an accounting question. I can’t tell you how glad I was that I went to see them.”

Wilson said she was pleased with how she represented herself during the interview. She advises students to conduct in-depth research on prospective companies.

“They want to see that you read more than the ‘About Us’ page on their website,” Wilson said. “They asked what I knew about Siemens, and I mentioned the number of employees and revenue. But they wanted more specific examples. I read about their push to be carbon-free, and what they’re doing with wind, solar and sustainable energy. I was able to talk about those topics, and get those ideas across.”

Step 7: Decision time

Wilson’s research and preparation paid off as she was offered a position in Siemens’s Finance Leadership Development Program—an impressive accomplishment for a freshman.

But Wilson’s work wasn’t over yet. She wanted to confirm the internship was right for her. So she visited CAP Mentor Brent Ziegler, who completed that same internship in Summer 2015.

“I really appreciated his honesty,” Wilson said. “Talking to Brent reassured me that this was the best option for me.”

Some more Career Week/Career Showcase tips from Nelly Wilson…

• If this is your first time attending Career Showcase, don’t visit your target company first. Meet with recruiters from companies that you’re not necessarily interested in, and practice your elevator pitch. Once you feel comfortable, then approach your target companies.
• For Heavener freshman it helps to view this as a learning experience. Going with a mindset of practicing basic networking skills and becoming comfortable with the career week environment is a great goal for a first time attendee.
• Enjoy the process! The more pressure you put on yourself, the more this week becomes intimidating. Approach the week with a positive and excited attitude about the possibilities. It will make the experience rewarding and feel less like work.