a Blugold’s guide to high-impact experiences

Whether you’ve participated in one high-impact experience, seven, or even none, this guide is for you.

At UW-Eau Claire, we strive for excellence in everything we do. And Blugolds, more than anyone, know that this pursuit of excellence extends beyond the four walls of a classroom.

One of the best ways to be a part of this tradition is to participate in a high-impact experience, an umbrella term that covers undergraduate student research, internships, service-learning, intercultural immersion experiences and study abroad. Basically, high-impact experiences allow you to practice hands-on learning while doing something you are passionate about.

Among UW-Eau Claire’s lofty goals for its students is that every Blugold participate in at least one high-impact experience. To help the university achieve its goal, we’ve created a guide to help you find the high-impact opportunities that will best help you make the most of your college experience.

Whether you’re participating in one high-impact experience, seven, or even none, this guide is for you. Each section includes tips on how to make the most of your experience, how to be involved and links to student success stories.

Now pay attention because there is a lot to learn about these amazing opportunities.

A student presents her research at CERCA

undergraduate student research

Thirty-seven percent of Blugolds participate in undergraduate student research (and get paid for it) during their time here — that’s a lot!

At UW-Eau Claire, undergraduates have research opportunities that often are only available to graduate students at other comparable institutions. This school makes it super easy to participate in cutting-edge research in whatever field you’re studying, and that’s pretty powerful.

Doing research with a faculty mentor can be invaluable when it comes time to look for a job or apply to grad school because you’ll have great hands-on experiences as well as a strong faculty reference. You also will have opportunities to present your research at on campus at CERCA, maybe present at professional conferences or even have your work published in an academic journal. Each year, about 150 Blugolds travel to places around the country to present their research at professional conferences.

Communications, sciences and disorders students work on their collaborative research

You can find research opportunities in all majors across campus — research isn’t limited to the STEM fields as many assume. Important work is happening in literally every department on campus, and opportunities for students to participate are readily available.

So be proactive. Ask your professors if they know of any research opportunities that match your interests or support your major. Tell your professors you’re interested in research and ask them to share your name with their colleagues. If you can’t find an existing project that works for you, identify a topic of your own to research and find a faculty mentor who would support you. The possibilities are endless!

We know that research takes a lot of time, and let’s be honest; free time doesn’t come easy to college students taking 16 credits a semester and working 30 hours a week to pay the bills.

Fortunately, you go to UW-Eau Claire, which means that you may actually be paid to do research! There are lots of grants, internships and other funding opportunities available to support student research. There also are many scholarships available to student researchers, including the Blugold Fellowship, Centennial Scholarship, Barry Goldwater Scholarship Program and the McNair Program.

Biology students work with a faculty mentor

Still don’t know where to start? Take a look at the Student-Faculty Collaborative Research Guide published by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. It walks you through everything from finding a faculty mentor, to getting funding and presenting your results.

Check out the stories below about Blugolds whose undergraduate research experiences added great value to their UW-Eau Claire education.

student success stories

Update on plant light response research supported by NSF funding

Students, faculty to present at national research conference

Tayo Sanders: Rhodes Scholar and researcher

Students score big at UW System research symposium

Student researcher earns seat at state event

Students hope to find internships at Career Conference


Internships are the ultimate way to test-drive your future career. By working with professionals in your field of choice, you get real job experience for your resume and confidence in your future.

You know how many people graduate, only to find that their job of choice requires “relevant experience?” An internship is how you meet that challenge so you can break into your field. Luckily, UW-Eau Claire will help you find your internship!

One of the best resources available is an event called Career Conference, where you can connect with employers looking specifically for Blugold employees and interns. Many students have had their internships from Career Conference turn into full-time jobs after graduating! This year, Career Conference will be held on Sept. 24 in Davies Center, and there are loads of pre-conference activities in the weeks leading up to it. Also, be sure to check out this article for some great advice on how to navigate Career Conference like a pro!

Students network with potential employers at Career Conference

Another helpful tool to find internships is called Blugold CareerLink. CareerLink is a database where employers specifically looking for students and graduates of UW-Eau Claire can post jobs and internship opportunities. A lifetime membership to CareerLink costs just $30, and it is more than worth it!

If nothing else, you should meet with a career counselor in the Career Services office, located in Schofield 230. The experts in Career Services can help you prepare for your internship, work on your resume, identify job opportunities and answer any questions you have about getting your first “real” job (which can be very scary).

While all these tools are helpful, you also have to do one more important thing: network. That’s right, it’s time for you to start networking, like, yesterday.

Through networking, you will develop a group of contacts within your chosen field; people who can then connect you with even more people. Your ever-growing list of contacts will help lead you to that one person who is looking for an intern with your skills and interests. It can be difficult, but networking is a necessary part of finding an internship, or any job for that matter. Career Services has a super helpful page on how to network successfully . Be sure to check it out!

Read about a few Blugolds who had amazing internship experiences.

student success stories

Alumna leads initiative to help food-insecure population eat local

Interns gain hands-on experience in environmental, mining industries

Students are building their future by joining the Corps

Interning in Brazil

A business student shows his Power of AND at the skateboard park he planned through Service-Learning


Every year, more than 4,600 UW-Eau Claire students perform more than 350,000 hours of community service. Talk about giving back to the community!

While performing 30 hours of Service-Learning is required for a Blugold degree, service is much more than a graduation requirement at UW-Eau Claire. Helping students learn to be engaged citizens is crucial to the mission of our university.

At UW-Eau Claire, Service-Learning is more than just volunteering. Participating in a Service-Learning project that relates to your major and career interests builds your base of knowledge, helps you build professional contacts, and gives you real-world experiences that will set you apart when you are looking for that first job after college. You will gain just as much as you give through these experiences.

A student fulfills his Service-Learning requirement by teaching community members how to use modern technology

By participating in a Service-Learning project, you can make an immediate impact on our local community and the world at large. Your project will connect you with community members who work in your field, giving you professional connections as well as valuable hands-on learning and networking experiences.

Or, if you’ve always had an interest in something that you haven’t had a chance to pursue academically, a Service-Learning project could be a great way to explore it — and flex your Power of AND muscles!

Choosing a project is easier than you might think! There are three ways to start your Service-Learning journey:

  1. Creating your own project: This option is ideal for those who already volunteer with an organization or have one in mind.
  2. Searching existing projects: The Service-Learning student portal allows you to search projects submitted by community partners throughout the area. Search by your own area of interest or browse community partners that have requested student help!
  3. Taking a course that offers Service-Learning: UW-Eau Claire offers more than 120 courses with Service-Learning components. Check MyCampS or talk with your adviser to see if any of your required classes are one of them.
Students plant a rain garden as part of their Service-Learning project

To learn more about Service-Learning and how to coordinate the perfect project for you, visit the Center for Service-Learning online or in-person at Schofield 230, watch some super helpful videos on the Center for Service-Learning’s YouTube channel and check out this informative guide to all things Service-Learning.

Blugolds share their Service-Learning stories below.

student success stories

Stories from Service-Learning

Kali Bannon: Organizational Communication, Beaver Creek Reserve

Kyle Gostomski: Marketing, Eau Claire Skaters Association

Katelyn Kimball: Kinesiology, Muscular Dystrophy Camp

Claire Winkleski: Special Education and Elementary Education, Wisconsin Badger Camp

Business students learn about Indian culture on a FLIIE

intercultural immersion experiences

Intercultural immersion experiences allow you to travel with a group of students and work as a cohort on a shared learning objective.

Immersion experiences help you to become a global citizen and gain new perspectives on the world. It’s more than just travel — immersion experiences connect academics, location and culture to create an engaged learning environment. By participating in an immersion experience, you’ll have a deeper understanding of the world, analyze your assumptions about people and cultures, and be exposed to new cultures and perspectives.

There are three categories of immersion experiences: the Domestic Intercultural Immersion Experiences Program, the Faculty-Led International Immersion Experiences Program and the International Fellows Program.

Domestic Intercultural Immersion Experiences

A domestic intercultural immersion is defined as a guided, critically-reflective intercultural experience outside the classroom designed to challenge and transform students’ perspectives regarding cultural norms and values.

Students explore Yosemite National Park on a DII

These programs allow students to travel to locations around the United States to be engaged with various cultures, populations and environments that are relevant to what they’re learning.

For some specific examples, look over the list of 2015–2016 DII programs available to students, and maybe sign up for one while you’re at it! The application process for DIIs varies by program.

Faculty-Led International Immersion Experiences

These faculty-led programs take students outside of the United States for several weeks.

Students learn about women’s rights on a FLIIE to Nicaragua

The international immersion experiences are offered for 2–4 weeks during summer or winterim sessions. By enrolling in one of these programs, you can travel to different parts of the world while earning your academic credits and you won’t have to take any semesters away from UWEC.

Application for FLIIEs can be done through the Center for International Education’s website. Some programs have required prerequisite courses, and all students will attend an orientation during the semester before their program.

International Fellows Program

The International Fellows Program is an innovative program that allows you to do research abroad with a faculty mentor, whether it be for credit, an internship or Service-Learning.

You can submit a proposal to participate in IFP online. The International Fellows Program allows for research during summer and winterim sessions.

Check out how other students are taking advantage of the International Fellows Program here. Let their projects inspire your inner global researcher!

You also can read about some students’ intercultural immersion experiences below.

student success stories

Business students gain cultural confidence through immersion trip to India

Immersion experience in Nicaragua continues to motivate students

UW-Eau Claire students explore Yosemite through immersion experience

Future teachers gain skills in diverse urban classrooms

Lessons from Selma: What I learned from the Civil Rights Pilgrimage

Students study abroad in Lismore, Australia

study abroad

Does it feel like you miss at least one friend every semester because they’re studying abroad? It’s not just you. Nearly one quarter of Blugolds study abroad during their time at UW-Eau Claire.

It’s time you become one of them!

It’s easy to study abroad for a semester and still graduate on time. With careful planning and by working closely with your adviser, you can find a program that best fits your major and that will help you achieve your academic goals.

The experts at the Center for International Education do an amazing job of supporting you every step of the way — from choosing a program to adjusting to life in another country to returning to our campus after your life-changing study abroad experience, they are there for you.

Center for International Education

Through the CIE, you can travel to one of 50 countries around the globe. Haven’t mastered that second language yet? No problem! More than 45 of these programs have no foreign language requirement.

Choosing a program can be difficult when there are so many to choose from, but the CIE website has some super helpful major advising pages to point you in the right direction. Finding the right program is crucial to having the best experience possible! Look here for a complete list of programs.

A student visits the Great Wall while studying abroad in China

The CIE website also has some great information for parents, tips on budgeting and fundraising, a list of available scholarships and how to apply for them and so much more!

Did you hear that? Yep, I said scholarships.

Finances are a common concern when students start thinking about studying abroad. But financial aid can be applied to your semester abroad, and there are study abroad scholarships. For example, some funding is available through UW-Eau Claire Foundation and Blugold Commitment Study Abroad grants. You can see a full list of available funding options and how to apply for them here.

If you still have questions, the Center for International Education has answers!

Love the idea of experiencing a new campus and culture but don’t think study abroad is quite the right fit? Or are you dreaming of living in a different part of the country but don’t have the time to travel there to to get a feel for the area? Then the National Student Exchange program might be just what you’re looking for.

National Student Exchange

Through NSE, you can study for a semester at one of nearly 200 universities in 49 states (excluding only Arkansas), the Virgin Islands, Guam, Canada and Puerto Rico. You can experience a new campus in a different region, while still taking classes that keep you on track to graduate on time from UW-Eau Claire.

A student zips through Costa Rica

NSE gives you the chance to explore a new city and region, meet new people and take courses that may not be offered at UW-Eau Claire. And you get to do it while paying UWEC’s tuition — no matter which school you attend. You can receive financial aid at your host school. And all the credits you earn are guaranteed to transfer back to UW-Eau Claire!

You can work with an NSE coordinator to choose the school that best matches your academic and personal goals. Visit the NSE’s website for more information about on-campus support, application, eligibility requirements and a list of participating schools.

Some of your fellow Blugolds share their study abroad stories below.

student success stories

Q&A with Reid Gresens on study abroad at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Anna Waller, Chemistry AND Culture

Humans of Study Abroad Photo Contest

Student Experiences with NSE

blugold commitment differential tuition

Here’s something to think about as you consider pursuing the many high-impact experiences UW-Eau Claire offers every student.

You’re already paying for them.

The Blugold Commitment Differential Tuition — a student-approved fee added onto each student’s tuition every semester — helps fund almost all high-impact experiences, with the exception of study abroad. This funding is why it’s affordable and easy for any student to participate in immersion experiences, student-faculty research, Service-Learning and internships.

In addition to funding high-impact experiences, the Blugold Commitment dollars also help support First-Year Experience courses, the hiring of faculty to reduce class sizes and increase availability of advising services, capstone experiences and other innovative projects around campus.

So let me reiterate: You’re already paying for these high-impact experiences. Go. Do. Them.

The experiences gained from these high-impact programs will help set you apart as you pursue your educational, professional and personal dreams. They will change you in ways that will make you a more curious student, a more valued employee and a more engaged citizen. These life-changing opportunities are available to every UW-Eau Claire student.

So go be a part of it.

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