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SuccessWorks summer initiative to help students, recent alumni pursue career goals

May 27, 2020 By Mike Klein
Photo: The sign outside of SuccessWorks.

SuccessWorks is launching a new initiative called Badgers on Track to help students and recent graduates navigate the changed job market. UW-Madison

SuccessWorks has launched a major new initiative to help current UW–Madison students and recent graduates develop confidence and strategies to move forward with career development in an economy hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Badgers on Track is a series of remote summer programs and opportunities to help students foster resiliency, build networking skills, gain experience, and secure jobs and internships with employers in Wisconsin and around the country.

Eric Wilcots Photo: Bryce Richter

“The economic consequences of COVID-19 have had a serious impact on the job and internship market for our students and recent graduates,” says Eric Wilcots, Interim Dean of the College of Letters & Science, home to SuccessWorks. “The College is committed to helping our students stay on track to achieve their goals. Our SuccessWorks team has developed innovative programs that will help students pivot their job searches quickly to find new opportunities, expand their professional networks, and strengthen their resiliency during this period of economic challenges.”

SuccessWorks is a center for personal and professional development for students in the College of Letters & Science. Many Badgers on Track programs are open to all majors and  many are offered in partnership with other UW–Madison schools, colleges and campus partners.

A recent survey from the National Association of Colleges & Employers (NACE) found that about 22 percent of employers are revoking offers to summer interns, while many others are revoking offers for full-time positions. An unprecedented job market, combined with the difficulties of gaining career experience from home, puts current students and recent graduates in a difficult spot.

“My biggest concern is that the class of 2020 will get caught in limbo, waiting for job freezes to be lifted,” said Betty Nen, a few weeks before she graduated this spring with a major in Political Science & Southeast Asian Studies.

Badgers on Track is all about giving hope to students like Betty,” says Rebekah Pryor Paré, Associate Dean for the L&S Career Initiative and Executive Director of SuccessWorks. “We’re giving students the tools and connections they need to spend this summer making progress toward their career goals, no matter what challenges they face.”

Badgers on Track programs include virtual workshops on topics such as networking and securing jobs; online career and internship courses; self-serve “learn on your own” tools on resume writing, grad school, gap years, virtual interviews and more; networking connections to Badger alumni who offer mentorship and open doors of opportunity for students; and career and internship advising with SuccessWorks. They’re all open to students and alumni up to a year after graduation.

In addition, case studies and experiential learning programs will help students build concrete skills over the summer, a program offered in partnership with the College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, School of Human Ecology and Wisconsin School of Business.

UW-Madison students can now apply for micro-internships — short-term paid projects of between 5 and 40 hours per week, many of which can be completed remotely. Offered through the Parker Dewey platform, these opportunities allow students of all majors to develop skills while working on projects from real employers–which means making valuable connections doing substantive work.

In partnership with the Wisconsin Foundation & Alumni Association, as well as schools and colleges across campus, SuccessWorks is reaching out this summer to employers and alumni, encouraging them to give their fellow Badgers a boost by posting and hiring for micro-internships.

Badgers on Track shows the power of what we can do for our students’ futures as a campus, and as a broader community of alumni and supporters,” says Rebekah Paré.

Betty Nen

As for Betty Nen, who worried before graduation about the lack of opportunities she and her fellow Badgers in the class of 2020 would face in the job market, she worked with SuccessWorks advisors to adapt when it became clear that positions in her chosen field of international educational programs weren’t materializing. In a matter of weeks, Betty re-tooled her resume and changed her job search strategies. Just before graduation, she accepted an offer as a research analyst with a consulting company.

“SuccessWorks helped me  craft a resume that successfully highlighted my strengths and accomplishments, setting me apart from other applicants,” she said. “With the help of SuccessWorks, I was able to identify my own skills that are easily transferable to a wide variety of industries and career fields, and use them to market myself to employers.”

She recommends SuccessWorks to other students and alumni, as they were competent and dedicated. “UW students are naturally high achievers, but it’s important to understand the value in asking for help and guidance, especially during these uncertain times,” Nen said.

For a full listing of Badgers on Track programs and resources, visit