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When Grads Leave UW, the Union Stays With Them in Future Endeavors

The Wisconsin Union is one of the best places on campus to unwind, relax and have fun, but it’s also one of the best places on campus to work. For college students, finding a job that is flexible and offers skill-building experience is like finding a pot of gold. We wanted to find out what makes the Union special for working students, so we asked recent graduates to tell us about their experiences.

Sydney Schibbelhut worked as an intern for the membership department for two years. In her position, she built rapport with donors and community members to strengthen the Union’s bond with the people who make its existence possible. On her experience, Sydney said this:

“Working at the Union has allowed me to experience numerous opportunities that I will cherish for a lifetime. Being able to sit alongside people who want to help you succeed and make you laugh everyday is something that every person should have in a work environment, and the Union ensures just that. Between helping organize Badger Bashes to assisting the member events with co-workers who quickly turned to friends, my time at the Union has left me feeling fulfilled.

The flexible scheduling allowed me to focus on school, have a second job, and be a part of an a cappella group on campus. The people who work with the Wisconsin Union have a passion to preserve its history, while also wanting to move forward and keep up with its students, and I found a deeper appreciation for UW because of this. I am excited to embark on my next steps as a new graduate, and will always be thankful for the wonderful memories that I made while working at the heart and soul of UW-Madison.”

As a graduating senior, Katy Lang has an extensive resumé chock-full of various positions throughout the Wisconsin Union. Her experience with WUD led her to a career path that has only just begun, but it is already clear that the skills she gained will stay with her for a lifetime. Katy told us the following about her time with the Union:

“When I showed up to my first Wisconsin Union Directorate Music Committee meeting two weeks into my freshman year at UW-Madison, I had no idea it would eventually lead me to my future career. I had just completely bombed an a cappella audition, but I knew that to enjoy college, I had to ‘get involved,’ so I showed up at a meeting in the Beefeaters Room of Memorial Union where 40 kids were deciding which bands to bring to campus that year. I was hooked immediately.

Eventually, I was hanging out at the Union during most of my waking hours. If I wasn’t in class or asleep in my dorm room, I was hanging out in Memorial Union. Soon, I started to recognize people – fellow Music Committee members, the cashier from the Daily Scoop, that one girl from my anthropology class who was also always at the Union – and it started to feel more like home than my dorm did.

I eventually got a job at Peet’s Coffee & Tea (I mean, I was hanging out there enough already, I might as well get paid for it.), and started to make more friends. I got close with my coworkers, but I also started to recognize and form relationships with ‘the regulars.’ By this point, I probably recognized half the people who worked in the Union. Two years later, one of those ‘regulars’ suggested that I apply to be the next director of the Performing Arts Committee, which turned out to be the best advice I’ve ever gotten.

I spent the next year booking the Wisconsin Union Theater’s 77th Season, leading a group of five assistant directors and 15 committee members and making incredible connections in the campus and community. I learned more about the business of nonprofit arts in that year than I ever could have in a classroom.

During my senior year, it became a running joke that I should be paying the Wisconsin Union for rent. I worked in the Union Theater, the marketing department, and (once it reopened) put in a shift at Peet’s every week, just for fun. The knowledge and skills that I’ve gained there are immeasurable, but one thing I can measure is how many friends I see when I walk through Memorial Union. The looks on my parents’ faces when as we walked through the Union to the Memorial Union Terrace during graduation weekend – as I greeted my coworkers from the Theater, regulars at Peet’s, the building manager who unlocked the Festival Room for me that one time, and the director of the Union – were priceless. This, iin addition to the tiny Sunburst tattooed on my ankle, is what will stick with me as I move forward in my career in the arts: the dozens of people, most of whom I met through one Union job or another, who have befriended and supported me along the way.”

The Wisconsin Union provides the best student employee experience available on campus. With a diverse array of jobs to choose from, the Union gives students, like Katy and Sydney, the skills they need to feel confident and competent in their future endeavors. To find out more about joining the Union team, go to union.wisc.edu/jobs.

Author: Shauna Breneman

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