Community Engagement

Creating Connections

Experiential learning leads to bright future

A man standing in front of a Northwestern Mutual sign.

A connection at a resume-writing workshop led finance major Jason Rousseau to a prime internship and a promising career at Northwestern Mutual. (Photo Credit: Rob Hall)

icon of a calendarApril 7, 2020

icon of a pencilBy Rene Wisely

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Dropping in at an OU Career Services resume-writing workshop led by Northwestern Mutual recruiters set Jason Rousseau on a path where he is poised to launch his career as a financial representative with the company following graduation.

Northwestern Mutual is a key Oakland University employer-partner. It is one of many organizations that regularly sends recruiters to visit campus to connect with potential interns and future employees through meet and greets, career fairs and other activities. At events like the resume-writing workshop, professionals counsel students on careers, help them with their soft skills and create a talent pipeline for their organization.

At this Career Fair prep session, Rousseau met with Elio Kollcinaku, a Northwestern Mutual financial representative and a college unit director, who mentors the firms’ interns. Kollcinaku happened to be filling in for an ill colleague at that particular session. The meeting turned out to be mutually beneficial.

“I never heard of Northwestern Mutual until that point,” said Rousseau, a senior. “My goal was to get an internship in personal finance, so as we were talking, I thought, ‘this is exactly what I’m looking for.’”

After Kollcinaku learned more about Rousseau’s background – including his previous internship at a marketing company which involved some door-to-door sales – he took the resume back to the office and did something he rarely does: he talked up Rousseau as being a solid prospect for Northwestern Mutual’s 2019 summer internship program.

“I knew right away he was a really good candidate and yes, it helped that he had a previous internship,” says Kollcinaku, who became his mentor.


Rousseau was one 46 interns from across the country that Northwestern Mutual’s Troy office hired that summer. Of all the interns, Rousseau is ranked in the top two for helping clients with their financial plans. Northwestern Mutual asked him to extend his internship for the entire year and has plans to offer him a full-time position after graduation, according to Sadie Grobbel, director of campus selection at Northwestern Mutual’s Troy office.

“He has been a tremendous asset to our intern team,” Grobbel says. “Other interns look to Rousseau as a leader, noticing his drive to excel, and that inspires them to do the same. He has a great vision for his future.”

The caliber of students like Rousseau and the welcoming atmosphere on campus are among the reasons Grobbel declares OU as her favorite community partner.


The close partnership between the OU School of Business Administration and Northwestern Mutual illustrates the mutually beneficial relationship. It also demonstrates the value Oakland business interns and employees deliver in return; and how the important relationships between Northwestern Mutual and the Business School supports student success, notes Ian Caullay, director of employer relations, OU School of Business Career Services.

“For most students the ultimate goal is landing a good job upon graduation,” Caullay says. “The employer relationships allow students to gain career-related experience while figuring out if a particular path or company culture is the right fit for them.” Often these experiential learning opportunities open doors for future employment, like it did in Rousseau’s case.

Rousseau agrees. “Internships are good for finding out if you love the major you’re in and if you want a similar career,” says Rousseau, who changed his major three times.

Today, he’s completely confident he chose the right major thanks to his internship opportunities. He’s excited for his future and is grateful that OU opened doors to help him along his journey.

“I have an ability to make an impact on people’s lives and I’m ready to help them,” he says.

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