One of the goals for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is to increase innovative student experiences by requiring all students to have a professional experience before they graduate as highlighted in the “N2025 Strategic Plan”, but some students are already ahead of the game.
Through Career Services, UNL students have access to career coaching and opportunities to help them succeed in their career. One student in particular, Mia Toigo, a sophomore civil engineering major, achieved early success when she acquired an internship the summer after her freshman year through the help of her career coach.
“It’s been really nice getting an internship early,” Toigo said. “So much engineering during the first two years, it’s just a bunch of science, math and gen ed’s. So, getting this internship gives me a leg up in terms of just getting to feel a little bit more of what that would be like in a job. So much of what I’ve done helps me academically as well.”
Toigo initially began her career development due to the encouragement of her father. Little did she know that her eagerness to engage with career coaching would lead to an incredible professional opportunity at Olsson Associates in the soil testing lab.
“My dad’s a very proactive person,” Toigo said. “He pushed me to go to career fairs and stuff like that, just for practice, so that way when I needed to get an internship after my sophomore year, I would have already done it once. I was just kind of doing it just to go through the motions and I wasn’t really expecting anything.”
In the fall of 2021, Toigo began to meet with assistant director of engineering career services, Theresa Luensmann, to work on her resume. From there, one meeting turned into multiple and soon Luensmann was helping Toigo to prepare for the spring University Career Fair, a place where employers can find top Husker talent.
Toigo said that Luensmann helped her in all aspects of career fair preparation. From helping her decide what to wear, how many resumes to print out and even encouraging her to get a padfolio to look more professional. But the thing Luensmann did that Toigo said helped her the most was doing research for the fair.
“We went through the list of all the different booths that were going to be at the career fair and made a game plan to research those companies,” Toigo said. “She recommended structuring it, so I went to ones that were low risk first as like practice. I went to Olsson last, so I had gotten out all the kinks in the elevator speech, that was phenomenal and helped me so much.”
After the career fair, Toigo got an interview with Olsson Associates, which Luensmann also helped her prepare for, and ultimately earned the internship along with high praise.
“It ended up going really well,” Toigo said. “Later, they told me it was one of the best intern interviews they ever had. I really do credit all of it to Theresa.”
Luensmann on the other hand attributes Toigo’s success to her motivation and dedication to meeting with Luensmann throughout the whole year.
“She was willing to go to the career fair as a first-year student, and she was willing to set up meetings with me ahead of time to be prepared for that, she had taken the time to think about what she wanted, and how she might be able to find it.”
Throughout their meetings together, Toigo and Luensmann developed a strong mentor relationship that carries on today, something Luensmann said she finds compelling.
“It’s always exciting for me to see women who are interested in engineering and who are really motivated and excelling in that way,” Luensmann said. “As a as a female identifying person in a very male dominated college, it always feels special to me to be able to mentor and assist our female students.”
Toigo said that throughout her experience she has sent countless friends to meet with Luensmann, but despite her success, she said her career coaching journey is not done.
“It’s always good to have someone who is so experienced and so knowledgeable look over your resume,” Toigo said. “When it comes time to add Olson to my resume officially, I’ll make a little appointment with Theresa, to chat because I love her, but also to have her look over and like make sure I did the sentence writing that we worked on correctly and stuff like that.”
Students and employers can connect this spring at the biannual University Career + Internship Fairs being held Monday, February 27- Wednesday, March 1, at the city campus Nebraska Union. Visit careers.unl.edu/events to find out which day of the fair is best for you to attend, and which employers are coming to recruit for each day’s focus area.
Toigo has nothing but praise for Luensmann and encourages all students to take advantage of the career development opportunities offered by University Career Services.
“My expectations didn’t even compare to the output,” Toigo said. “I say it all the time, she’s [Theresa] the highlight of the engineering department. What can be sometimes like a scary or even dull experience, she makes it so fun. She’s amazing. Career Services is amazing. I definitely recommend it.”