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Alumni Snapshot – CJ Dykstra

 CoBE Alumni Remember and Reflect

Name: CJ Dykstra


Current Employer and Position:  

Assistant Vice President at Park Bank (Milwaukee-based commercial bank)


Graduation Year(s) and Major(s):

1990 – BBA, Marketing major

2002 – MBA, Human Resource Management emphasis


Why did you choose to attend UW-Whitewater?

I chose UW-Whitewater for my undergrad based on its reputation for having a great business school. In addition, I knew several people who were students at the time and they were very happy with their decision.

When I decided to pursue my MBA, Whitewater was an easy decision.  The technology in the online courses was great in 2002, so I can only imagine how advanced it is today.


Where there any professors or courses that particularly inspired you? Why?

There were many, but I particularly enjoyed Economics classes, including several with Dr.Ashok Bhargava.  My major was Marketing, but I ended up taking enough Econ credits to earn a minor.

One of my favorite experiences was in a Direct Marketing course with Dr. Peltier.  The class involved a competition in which we had to create and present a campaign for a music publishing firm.

I also enjoyed an Entrepreneurship class that offered students the unique opportunity to be partnered with business owners.   A classmate and I assisted a local entrepreneur by conducting market research and creating new marketing materials.

Looking back, I can see how much we benefited from the real-world experience and connections of our professors.


Did you participate in extra-curricular activities? If so, what did you learn from participating in these activities that has been useful in your career?

I joined several academic organizations and participated in intramural athletics.  The best experience I had though, was working at the Wisconsin Innovation Service Center (WISC) and another program called Wisconsin Technology Access Program (WisTAP).  I was privileged to have worked for and learn from Debra Malewicki for nearly two years.

Working with WISC and WisTAP helped me develop my writing, researching, and time management skills.  Probably most importantly, I was put in positions to stretch myself and gained a lot of confidence in my ability to deliver presentations.


What do you enjoy most about your current position?

Park Bank is based in Milwaukee and has been in business for nearly 100 years.   The organization has a great reputation and is well-known for the strength of its relationships with customers and employees.

Park Bank provides an environment where you can have an impact.  Whether I’m recruiting, addressing an employee’s concern, planning a wellness program, or facilitating the performance review process, I know I’m making a difference.


What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

Being part of an IT staffing division start-up was a lot of work, but very rewarding.   I’m also proud of working with a team at Park Bank to formalize and grow our wellness program.  In both cases, I could call on the knowledge I gained at UW-Whitewater.


What do you feel is your greatest professional strength?

I love learning new things and taking on new challenges.  I also enjoy networking and connecting people with one another.


What are the three key skills or qualities you look for in recent grads wishing to join your company?

1. Great communication – written and verbal. This means having a great resume and being able to hold your end of the conversation during interviews.
2. Ability to assess a situation and make a decision
3. Past success working in teams


Based on what you know now, what advice would you give to your college-age self if you could go back in time?

I would encourage myself to look for leadership roles in the student organizations I joined.   We grow when we’re pushed beyond our comfort zone.


About Paul Ambrose

Associate Dean, Graduate Business Programs.
This entry was posted in Alumni Voice, Career, Graduate School, Human Resources, Marketing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


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809 W. Starin Road
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