Deciding on UW-Madison

By Caroline Zellmer

When I was a senior in high school I had no idea where I wanted to go to college. But throughout my college search I kept on coming back to UW-Madison. I failed to find a school that matched our on and off campus opportunities, course options, general campus climate and research experiences. Despite my own research on the different opportunities available to me through a CALS education, I wanted to have a more personalized interaction with the university and with CALS students.

During my decision making process I went on a CALS Senior Visit day, which gave me a first-hand look at the daily life of CALS undergraduates. It was instrumental in my search process to have the opportunity to speak with advisors, professors and current students at this visit day. I would implore you all to take advantage of the visit days available each semester.

I am so happy with my final choice to attend UW-Madison and my major program in CALS. The faculty and staff really want all CALS students to succeed and have the best possible experience.

Best of luck with the decision making process, feel free to contact any of the ambassadors with questions!

Pursuing Internships

By: Will Peasley

When coming to a university like UW-Madison a lot of emphasis is placed on academics. Questions can come up like, am I going to be able to do well in my classes and get a good GPA? While these are important concerns I want to focus on another aspect of your college experience that is just as important. Internships are a great opportunity to grow both personally and professionally.

As a freshman I applied for an internship with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). I went into the interview process not knowing what to expect and was really nervous. I used CALS career services as a resource in order to prepare for my interview. As a result, I was able to interview with confidence and was fortunate enough to get the internship position. My advice is to start looking for internships that interest you early and often. Once you have found an internship that you are interested in, you should take advantages of all the resources on campus and go for it!

I spent over a year at DATCP with the International Trade Team where I worked in a team to help increase Wisconsin’s agricultural exports. It truly was a great opportunity to get a hands on experience within the agricultural industry. One of the most valuable things about completing an internship is the networking that comes along with it. By talking with the people that you are working with you are able to get an inside look into what their job entails and you are exposed to careers that you might not have heard of otherwise.  Another great thing about internships is that generally they are shorter in length. This is a benefit because it allows you to take a risk and try something new, knowing that you don’t have to make a career out of it.  Sometimes the biggest thing that you can take out of an internship is figuring out what you DON’T want in a career.

While we are in school academics are always going to be the first priority, but keep your eyes open and keep pursuing internships that will continue to help you grow.

Helpful Career Services

By: Maria Gruetzmacher
As an incoming freshman at UW-Madison, fears of getting lost, meeting new people and not getting Badger football tickets swirled through my mind. The fact that I was in college to eventually get a full-time job was the last thing I was concerned about! Thankfully, CALS Career Services was there to encourage me to think about my future and start planning for it, even as a nervous freshman.

It all started the second week of my freshman year when I heard rumors of a career fair at the Kohl Center. This event which draws hundreds of companies is a great place to network and discover potential internship opportunities. After talking with my dad, he convinced me that I should put together a résumé and head off into the deep abyss of business suits and portfolios. The only problem was that I had nothing to put on my résumé (or so I thought)! After all, I was only a freshman. Doing the best I could, I put together a résumé and met with a peer advisor during CALS walk-in résumé help hours. With the advisor’s guidance I made several adjustments and tucked my polished résumé away for the big day.

Although I did not yet own a business suit, my black pants and nice sweater sufficed. After giving myself a quick pep talk, I left my dorm room ready to explore different companies and internship opportunities.

Standing in lines, quick meetings, followed by handshakes and sharing my résumé consumed the next two hours. I left more knowledgeable about a variety of companies and the opportunities they offer. Little did I know that the résumé that the kind peer advisor in CALS Career Services helped me create would help me get an internship!

After an interview around Thanksgiving, I had earned an internship at a processed cheese plant just south of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Fast forward a year and I now sit here as a sophomore more confident in how to build a strong résumé and interview with companies. Gone are the days of getting lost on campus. With the help of CALS career services, I am excited to look into the future at all of the possible opportunities that are available.

Personalize your Wisconsin experience

By: Rachael Baird
One of the most amazing things about the University of Wisconsin is the plethora of opportunities that are available to students. From student organizations to internships to volunteer groups or study abroad experiences, there are more opportunities available than you could ever imagine. My freshman year I felt like I was receiving emails everyday about organizations or projects that I wanted to pursue. I quickly realized that I could not do everything and had to decide what activities would be most meaningful to me and would prepare me best for the future. I chose to focus my time on my research, tutoring, and a couple of student organizations. It did not take me long to figure out which organizations I had a passion for and which I could step away from in order to try something new. This flexibility to explore my interests was irreplaceable to me as it showed me my passion for working in roles where I could have a direct impact on others. Such a realization about myself has shaped my career goal of becoming a physician. By exploring the multitude of opportunities available within CALS and UW-Madison as a whole, I created my own Wisconsin experience that helped me to grow as a person and better prepared me for my future.

The Process of Choosing a Major

By: Lily Mank
Applying to college is a daunting task but choosing a major that will define your career and therefore the rest of your life is another story in itself. Fear not! All students have been there and eventually we figure it out. My advice to you is to explore your options by trying new classes, gaining a variety of work experiences and talking to professionals or career advisors. As a freshman, I majored in animal sciences with the goal of becoming a veterinarian. However, I continued explored different courses by taking a design studies course and a landscape architecture course. I realized these options were a better fit to my interests and I am now a Landscape Architecture and Zoology double major. There is no shame in being an undecided major and taking the time to figure out what you want, in fact, I highly recommend it!

Discover CALS

By: Adam Bartling
Coming to campus, it is understandable and completely normal to not know exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life, or even pick a major. This was the exact predicament I found myself in a short three years ago.

When I arrived on campus as a freshman, all I knew is that I enjoyed science and was thinking of possibly majoring in Biology or Genetics due to familiarity with those subjects from high school. However, my first week on campus involved the CALS Freshman Orientation and other events that introduce students to the myriad of majors and certificates available to students. At the orientation, I remember one of the CALS Ambassadors at the time telling us freshman to “make yourself uncomfortable” and explore what CALS has to offer during your time at UW-Madison, especially in the first year. Taking this advice to heart, I decided to become completely undecided on what to study and take a risk in exploring an unknown subject such as Global Food Security. I was able to change my schedule around last minute just to accommodate for this new First-Year Interest Group (FIG) that was composed of three classes focusing on food security. During my first semester, I was able to meet with numerous professors and students involved in the study of food security, plant pathology, and chemistry. Throughout these classes and meetings, one of the professors mentioned Food Science as a possible major for me. At the time, I had no idea what Food Science was or what it entailed. However, I was fairly confident that I liked both science and food. With this, I decided to learn more about the major and the jobs offered in the food industry, and I have not looked back.

I became a Food Science major halfway through my freshman year and have since been fortunate enough to gain internships, research experience, and part time jobs in the food industry. Overall, I was a student without any agricultural background coming into college, and with some advice from a CALS Ambassador and a risk, I found my major and my career within the vast agricultural industry.

Step out of your comfort zone

By: Deanna Luzenski
I would like to share one of my first memories at UW-Madison which would be the CALS New Student Orientation. All new students on campus are invited to go to orientation to learn more about what CALS has offer and then meet with the department you are interested in . I was extremely nervous since I was unfamiliar with campus, and I didn’t know anyone else, and I’m a bit of an introvert. Besides being nervous, I was also really excited to go and hopefully meet other students and see more of campus. When I walked into Room 125 in Ag Hall, I was shocked at how big a lecture hall could be, coming from a small rural high school. I quickly rushed up the aisle and sat down next to another girl who looked friendly. We introduced ourselves, and we realized that we were both interested in genetics. After the commencement of orientation, eating Bucky pucks, and meeting members of the genetics faculty together with the other genetics majors, my new friend and I spent the rest of the day together. We went to the Chancellor’s Welcome and hung out in her dorm room. We had classes together through freshman year and remained good friends. We remained such good friends that we decided to get rent an apartment together, and we still live together today. Besides the important academic portions of school, it’s also important to get out of your comfort zone sometimes. For me, it was meeting new people because who knows, a lifelong friend could sit down right next to you.

Make time for the classes you want to take

By: Eleanor Miller
With all the prerequisites and graduation requirements UW students have, it can be easy to forget that you are in control of your schedule and that means what classes to take and when to take them. Think outside the box! Take classes that are of personal interest to you or a fun elective within your major, in addition to those that are required. My first year at Madison I decided to take a class that sounded interesting in the history of science department.  As a science major, it was very different than all my math and science classes but it ended up being one of my favorite classes of the semester! The class turned into a project called The History of Wisconsin in 100 Objects and consisted of a lot of archival research on one object from Wisconsin’s history. Three semesters later, I am still working with my professor on the project and my research is being broadcast on Wisconsin Public Radio! I never thought I would get so much out of it and it has helped me grow as a student and a person. I really suggest talking with an advisor at SOAR or in your major to see what classes you need to take and then fill up the rest of schedule with classes that sound fun or interesting to you because, believe me, going to class and doing homework becomes much more relatable and enjoyable when the subject material engages you. On the CALS website there are 4 year plan sheets detailing classes and requirements needed for each major and you can start exploring what classes you would like to take now! This university has a lot to teach about a wide variety of topics. I implore you to widen your scope and take advantage of that!

Student Organizations

By: Kathleen Keene
Here at UW-Madison, there’s pretty much a club for anything you can possibly think of! At the beginning of every semester, students have the opportunity to go to a Student Organization Fair at the Kohl Center in order to peruse clubs that they might find interesting. And if you can’t find the club you want, all you have to do is find two other friends and you can create your own club!

In addition to university-wide organizations CALS has more than 30 student organizations that are related to the different majors within our college. I am currently involved in the Pre-Veterinary club here on campus and have been a member since my freshman year.

Clubs are a great way to get involved in the university, but are also a great way to meet new friends!

Working on Campus

By: Mark Kendall
Hello everyone my name is Mark Kendall and I am a junior studying agronomy.  There are a lot of opportunities in CALS to work during the semester.  Campus jobs are not only a great way to earn some money to help pay the bills but they can provide great experience to help you determine your career path.  There are jobs in CALS that will allow you to process meat, milk cows, or work at the Babcock Dairy Plant.  These hands on work experiences can really enhance and add to the field of study that you are pursuing.  Half way through my freshman year, I began working for the Sweet Corn Research Program of the Agronomy Department.  The bulb of my work has me shelling sweet corn, packaging it for spring planting, and applying seed treatments.  Working about ten hours per week gives me the chance to break away from the rigors of school work.  My job has given me a look at what agronomy research has to offer.  I’ve also had the pleasure of working with some great people.  This last summer I had the opportunity to work full time for the Sweet Corn Program and see my job come full circle.  I assisted in planting, weeding, pollinating, and harvesting.  I know my job isn’t for everyone but take a chance and try something new because it could be something you want to do for the rest of your life.

Getting Involved

By: Holly Heacock
I know you might not be worried about this right now as you’re picking your school, but I’m going to talk a little bit about getting involved once you are on campus. This applies to any school you decide to go to, but my journey has been here at UW-Madison.

As a freshman, I did not want to get too involved on campus. I was the girl in high school who was involved in as many things as I could get my hands on and by the time I got to campus, I was burned out. I decided to focus more on my studies and work at making new friends in the dorms and in my classes. This was great for awhile, but I felt really lost. I felt like I was on this big campus and didn’t know anybody I could turn to.

I decided to join a couple of organizations to meet some new people. I joined a Bible Study, got involved with the housing student council, and went to some meetings for a club in my major (Undergraduate Genetics Association). I found that by joining these things, I was able to find people who had the same interests that I had and could hang out with them not just during meeting times, but also outside of those times.

Throughout my 2 and a half years on campus so far, I have gradually gotten more and more involved. Sometimes I’ll find a club or activity that isn’t for me and I decide not to stick around for very long. Other times, I’ve found that it really calls to my heart and is something that I truly enjoy and believe in. My advice to you is to start your search for those clubs and organizations that make you tick as soon as you get on campus. There will be so many opportunities to learn about these clubs and many will have meetings within the first month offering free food, so why not go!?

Also, once you find something you do love, don’t just go to the monthly meeting and forget about it. Get involved in it and become great friends with the others who are a part of it. You’ll thank yourself later when you need to write out your resume, you need a talking point in an interview, or even just looking to make conversation with people before class. Plus you’ll be able to make friends who are into the same types of things that you are which will make what may seem like such a big campus into quite the small one.

Good luck with your college search, and I hope that you will have a great college experience filled with fun, friends, and excitement. I may be biased, but I believe UW-Madison is just the place to find these. And with that- ON WISCONSIN!

Undergraduate Research

By: Patrick Carney
Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is one of the university’s greatest assets.  There are research programs for almost any subject you can imagine, with over 100 research centers and programs to choose from.  For CALS specifically, there are programs in agriculture, dairy, environmental studies, health sciences, and more!  The best part about research on campus is that undergraduates play a major role in it.  Many students get involved in labs, and there are even courses designed specifically for getting students research experience.

So what is my advice to you?  Get involved as early as possible in research if you are interested.  Finding a research position is not all that easy, but once you do it can be very rewarding.  The first step is to go to the UW-Madison website and find the “Research” tab.  Once there, you can see all the various projects going on and find out who is heading up research in each area.

Now comes the tricky part.  Contacting the faculty members conducting the research.  They are all very busy people who may not want or need extra people in their lab, so you need to email multiple investigators until you get one that is interested. An alternative is to find a lab by looking at the UW job-listing page, but remember you will probably start doing basic work around the lab and will need to work up to conducting actual research.

Once involved in research, it can be a very valuable experience for you, particularly if you are looking into graduate school of any sort.  Research is the hands on application of what you learn in class, and many programs require that you have some experience in research as an undergraduate.

To conclude, research has been one of my favorite parts about being in school here.  I was lucky enough to have a mentor take an interest in me and help me to design and do various research projects.  I know there are many great faculty members at this university, and hopefully you can find one that will do the same for you.

Exploring unknown classes

By: Morgan Rehberg
In the fall of 2012, I was an economics major in the College of Letters and Science taking classes in data management, social research methods, statistics in economics, and microeconomic theory. I decided to add the introductory Animal Science course, Livestock Production, to change up my schedule and learn about the foundations of Wisconsin’s agriculture. This course changed my academic career. Each unit, ranging from animal genetics to hedging, brought a new professor from a different department within CALS to talk to us, and as a class of many first-semester students, it certainly broadened our views on the opportunities available in agriculture. I learned quickly that I wanted to focus my studies in agricultural economics, but I explored within animal science the following semester by taking a small class called the Environmental Impacts of Livestock Production. This class featured a fusion of online lectures from a variety of experts from CALS, UW-Extension, and governmental agencies primarily about dealing with manure. Although it was very challenging and required a significant time commitment, I fell in love with the subject matter. It became my favorite class to discuss with everyone from close friends to parents of my high school roommates. I learned enough in-depth information about the challenges and opportunities in manure management that I started working in runoff management at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and hope to continue studying manure management in the context of sustainability. This is something I will continue studying through independent research and perhaps incorporate into my senior capstone project. I am so thankful for being drawn to the introductory animal science class because it helped me find my specific area of interest within economics, and I encourage students to take advantage of the flexibility that UW offers to students of any major. Take a class because it sounds interesting or because you heard good things about it! At the very least, it will offer you new perspectives and balance with different types of classes, and you never know, it could shape your academic career.

Getting Involved on Campus

By: Emily Selner
Looking for the perfect school can be a daunting task with the tours, applications, scholarship packages, and the list goes on. One “checklist item” that you may easily overlook is student life. I am not talking about the dining halls or the dorms, which are both important in your decision, I am talking about student organizations.

As a student, the best decision you can make is to be active on campus. Student organizations can help you meet your life long friends, give you professional experience, and offer things to do on a Saturday night. UW-Madison offers MANY student organizations that can make campus feel like home.

I am personally involved in five organizations because I like to be busy. I am involved in Badger Dairy Club, National Agri-Marketing Association, Association of Women in Agriculture, CALS Ambassadors, and Collegiate Farm Bureau. These clubs have given me social, professional, and service opportunities in the two years I have been on campus.

Joining an organization can be a little intimidating but UW-Madison and CALS can make it an easy transition. During the first week of school there will be two organization fairs that allow you to meet all the organizations on campus and learn more about them. CALS offers an org fair on the CALS campus and UW-Madison offers an org fair in the Kohl’s Center. I encourage you to attend both of these org fairs when on campus so you can find a place on campus.

There are two different websites you can visit to look into student organizations and contact student org leaders. UW-Madison offers an organization list at and CALS has a complete list at

Please look at both of theses websites before making your decision on where to attend, student organization should be a very important consideration when picking a university.

Studying Abroad

By: Katie Sonnefeldt
attOne of the greatest opportunities that UW- Madison has given me is the opportunity to travel. Being able to completely immerse myself in a culture is my favorite way to learn. I have traveled abroad before in high school and with my parents, but being courageous enough to explore a new country in college was a new way for me to take advantage of my independence and freedom.

As a Biology and Life Sciences Communication major, with a certificate in Global Health, I am constantly busy trying to fit all of my classes into four short years. I was worried at first that I would be too busy to go abroad or that the courses offered abroad wouldn’t count towards my majors. However, I was so glad to find out that CALS offers a variety of experiences abroad that didn’t require me to be gone for an entire semester.

Because I wanted to get credit for going abroad, I decided to meet with my Global Health advisor to see what I could do. Together we discussed international internships, summer programs offered through UW, and even how I could go about creating my own global health internship. These programs ranged from 1 week to several months, in places from Kenya and South Africa, to Nepal, and even as close to home as New York City. In reality my options were endless, but my counselor guided me through the hundreds of resources that were available until I found the right fit.

After exploring my options, I decided to apply for, and was accepted to a two-week field experience to Sri Lanka that was offered through the Global Health Certificate Program. In these two weeks my group learned about community health from several healthcare leaders in Sri Lanka. We were also able to work with a village on a project to cleanup the preschool and build a kitchen so that the children could have access to sanitary food. This program was perfect for me because I was always busy visiting Buddhist temples, trying new foods, or feeding elephants. But there was always enough time for a tea break, and why not- tea is what Sri Lanka (formerly called Ceylon) is known for!

Thanks to CALS and my advisors, I was able to take part in this adventure of a lifetime. There are so many resources available to students who want to go abroad, including financial assistance; all you have to do it look for it!

Start Here!

So I challenge you to create your own adventure, I promise, you won’t regret it!

Switching Majors

By: Courtney Holdt
Besides the big decision of which college to attend, one of my hardest decisions when coming to college was what to major in. My senior year of high school I was interested in so many different topics, how could they expect me to pick one major? When I started at CALS I was a Genetics major, with hopes of pre-Pharmacy. After a summer job with Dupont Pioneer I quickly realized I wanted to focus on plant genetics, not human. Unsure of what my next step should be I headed to the CALS website where I found links to descriptions of each major and contacts of people who could help me. From here I met with an Agronomy advisor and Career Services in Ag Hall. Both were able to tell me what an Agronomy major would mean and what kind of careers I would find. After that, switching my major was a breeze. CALS makes it very simple to switch majors within the college and they are very helpful along the way. You can also switch majors across colleges, with just a little more paperwork. The people in 116 Ag Hall are there to help you with a variety of things, including settling on a major.

Alternative Housing Option

By: Lisa Schram
Now you are accepted into UW-Madison. The next thing you will need is a place to live. There are many options in Madison such as: on-campus resident halls, apartments, rental houses, or cooperatives. This was a hard decision for me, but I choose to live in a co-ed cooperative called the Babcock House. What a unique name huh? The name Babcock comes from Dr. Stephen Babcock, the professor that invented the milk butter fat test in 1890, right here on campus. Dr. Babcock founded the house to provide male students studying agriculture with economical housing while they were attending UW-Madison. Babcock House is one of the oldest running cooperatives in the nation today so traditions are a big part of the house. Along with traditions, it is one the cheapest housing options near campus with a base rent of $420/month which includes: internet, cable TV, utilities, furnished rooms, laundry, 8 professionally cooked meals, and an unforgettable experience. If you ever question where to live while attending school here at UW-Madison, I can certainly vouch for the home-like atmosphere of the Babcock House. Living here has easily been among the best decisions of my college career, but to truly understand the benefits of this house I encourage you to experience it for yourself.