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October 6, 2016 In Lakeland University Blog
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Every Tuesday night for the next couple of months, Lakeland University junior Alexia Janz will drive to Milwaukee, take a deep breath, leap out of her comfort zone and enjoy a three-hour adrenaline surge.

Janz is a member of The Commons, a unique, fresh, open-minded approach to education, innovation and collaboration.

“This is a great way for me to test myself, to discover what I’m capable of,” says Janz, who’s double majoring in accounting and management information systems (MIS).

“I’m trying to experience challenges that set me apart, and The Commons is going to make me more confident in myself when it comes to speaking to others, networking and pitching my ideas.”

The Commons is comprised this semester of about 75 talented, creative students from 24 Wisconsin colleges and universities. These bright minds meet weekly to work with their teams and solve corporate challenges or conduct business start-up projects.

“The Commons is an amazing program, and I’m very pleased to see Lakeland University students involved,” says Scott Niederjohn, Lakeland’s Dean of the School of Business and Entrepreneurship and Charlotte and Walter Kohler Professor of Economics and Business.

“The opportunity to work with other talented students from other colleges and universities on real-world corporate challenges or start-up projects can be a real benefit as they explore the job market after graduation.

“A number of major corporations are so impressed by The Commons, they guarantee interviews to any student with that experience on their resume. I can’t think of a stronger endorsement.”

Janz heard about The Commons from fellow Campbellsport, Wis., native and LU student David Del Ponte, who along with Lakeland student Nate Cooper participated in The Commons last year.

She applied online and found out soon thereafter that she’d been accepted.

“From the time I was accepted until our first meeting in the summer, my mindset went back and forth from, ‘This is going to be so much fun!’ to, ‘Why in the world did I do this?’ ” Janz says with a smile. “But now that I’m fully invested in it, it’s such a great experience.”

At a two-day weekend kickoff event for The Commons, Janz ranked the top five affiliated companies she wanted to work with, then gave a 20-second pitch about herself explaining why she’d be a good fit. She landed with her top choice, “Business Breacher,” a start-up company that aims to forge relationships between higher education students and companies through guided tours and other interactive experiences.

Janz was assigned to an eight-student team, which includes a graphic designer, a computer programmer, an engineer and a 16-year-old college student.

Admittedly, Janz is on the “quieter side,” but “I really like going to The Commons and talking to people. In our group of eight, I’m one of the more vocal ones.”

Janz, who recently earned a paid internship with Huberty CPAs (she’ll start in December) after making a great impression during the company’s Premier Student Program, would like to become a CPA after graduation. She’ll be armed with the MIS degree, so creating software programs for accounting firms is another possible career path. Eventually, becoming a CFO is on her radar.

For now, though, Janz continues to spread her wings and soar into exciting new experiences.

“I’m trying to do things that will set me apart,” she says. “The Commons is really interesting. It’s so much fun to see students with different majors working together. There are a lot of points of view in our group, and I enjoy our conversations a lot.”

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