UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls

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 Jake Guthridge

Name: Jake Guthridge
Company: Warehouse Manager Trainee, Uline
Hometown: New Prague, Minn.
Major: Business Administration - Management

An innovative program at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls sparked an interest for Jake Guthridge and eventually helped him land employment before he even graduated.

Jake, a business administration - management major from New Prague, Minn., will start life after graduation as a warehouse manager trainee at Uline in Hudson, Wis. After attending a Career Trek in the fall of 2016, he connected with the company and eventually transformed his connection into a job.

Established in September 2016, Career Treks is a cooperative program offered by UW-River Falls Career Services and the College of Business and Economics. Treks take place monthly during the school year and consist of company site visits to local and regional businesses. The free trips allow students to network with professionals, learn about career paths, and better their understanding of business operations. For Jake, a single trek started a chain of events that would lead him to the workforce.

"I first heard about them [Career Treks] in my operations management class. My professor offered extra credit if we went so I checked it out and thought this program seemed pretty cool," he explains. "You get a full tour of the business, you get to see it all. This came up at the time I was starting to apply for jobs and gauge what I wanted to do."

"Uline was the very first one. I submitted my name and got a spot on the trip. We got on the bus and we headed over there and honestly, I fell in love with this company," he continues. "Everything about this place was incredible. Their lawn, how everything was put away in their warehouse, even how clean their floors were, everything was so captivating about it. I was like, this is where I want to work."

After completing the Career Trek, Jake kept returning to his affinity for Uline.

"I had talked to Nicole, the head of HR, during the trek and she talked to us about job opportunities," he says. "Later in the fall, I saw her at the career fair. I told her I had been on the Career Trek and asked about what kind of opportunities they had. She told me about the warehouse manager trainee position and thought that it would be the perfect fit. I applied, went through three rounds of interviews and I got the job."

It's not just Career Treks that Jake has to thank for landing him the job, it's been the full experience that UW-River Falls has provided him with.

"It's all in the preparation, whether it be the skills I got from our professional communications classes or the resume writing," he explains. "I wouldn't have the job without my degree but I definitely would not have gotten the job without the interview skills I learned here. One bad interview and they would say you're not cut out for the job."

In addition to the career prep skills he's learned, Jake also credits classes within his major.

"Operations management with Brian Huffman [College of Business and Economics professor] was my favorite. It really kind of captivated what I want to do. It really showed me what I was into – operations management – that's my passion. It ignited that in me," he says. "The concepts we talk about in there really tied in closely with what I want to do."

"Brian [Huffman] also taught my international business course. He taught both of those classes in a way that I connected with. I did so well in those classes because they showed me the passion I had for business," he says.

Jake can't say enough good things about the intangibles that UW-River Falls has offered him and while he's leaving campus, he's thankful he won't be far away.

"I wish I could do it again. I'm excited to start the rest of my life and am excited to be starting my career but part of me doesn't want to leave," he muses. "I loved campus, I loved my major. I thought I was going to be a computer science major. I knew what I thought I liked but I kept my eyes open."

He urges future Falcons to do the same.

"Be ready for anything. Put yourself out there. Don't put yourself in a box. Take different classes, take advantage of the opportunities offered here," he says. "Don't stay in one rut, go explore the world and do big things."

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