UW-Stevens Point graduates turn internships into jobs at Skyward, Inc.
Pictured, from left, are December 2013 UW-Stevens Point graduates Molly Przybylski, Adam Seibel, Jessie Fecteau, Ian Dart and Ben Abbott, all now employed by Skyward, Inc.
It’s a common paradox for college graduates – getting a job
requires experience, but how do you get experience without a job? Thanks to a
partnership with Skyward, Inc., students at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens
Point are gaining both.
An educational software company based in Stevens Point, Skyward currently
employs more than 400 people, 145 of which are UW-Stevens Point alumni. But while
Skyward has long recruited interns from computer information systems, it
recently began collaborating with the School of Business and Economics to offer
students paid internships in customer service.
Based on their intern experience, most of the 13 students in this
program continued with the company on a full-time basis after graduation.
“The ability to bring in students, train them and have them
stay on full-time has been a very valuable pipeline for us,” said Jon Oliver,
vice president of operations at Skyward. “Some internships last a few weeks.
Here it is a year-round position, which helps fund their education. It also
builds into a career.”
Ben Abbott, a
business administration and economics major from Stevens Point, was one of five December
graduates who accepted a full-time job after interning for more than a year. These
five students had the experience of having their new boss, Skyward CEO Cliff
King, as their commencement speaker.
“Skyward is truly a family-run business,” said Abbott. “Everyone
is incredibly knowledgeable and brings different dynamics and fresh ideas to
the table. It’s an exciting place to work.”
between Skyward and the School of Business and Economics began as a personal
one. As a member of the school’s Business Advisory Committee, King worked
closely with faculty and saw the potential to increase the company’s internship
program with UW-Stevens Point beyond information technology majors.
King worked with Business
Professor Barb Mihm to promote the customer service positions. Several students
majoring in business administration and accounting were hired. The students
worked part time during the school year and full time during the summer, and
had the opportunity to travel with the company to train customers in Michigan.
recommend the internship experience at Skyward,” said Jessica Fecteau, a business administration-marketing and economics graduate. “It’s a small company, and you can get the
experience you need without feeling intimidated.”
“As part of the
program, the interns did presentations on their Skyward internships to their
peers in School of Business and Economics,” Mihm said. “It was clear the
experience gave them respect and confidence. It was a real sales pitch for Skyward,
and we have a lot more students interested in the internships.”
That’s great news
for Andy Lind, vice president of customer service at Skyward, who plans to hire
about 10 interns next fall with the intention that these interns also will
continue with the company.
“We have been
impressed with what we have seen coming from UW-Stevens Point,” Lind said.
“They come here in learning mode, with a good background and good working
knowledge to start.”
himself, Lind helps interns see the opportunity for a career in Stevens Point.
“Many people feel
the need to go to a big city, but there’s career growth right here,” he said.
“We promote people from within the company, and within five years we are
looking to double in size. I’m sure we’ll continue to hire UW-Stevens Point