University of Wisconsin–Madison

Career Advising

Career Services provides resources and strategies necessary to steer you in the right direction for your career planning. You will find these tools useful in planning for and understanding the type of work environment in which you can expect to practice.

For your best chances of being hired for a job or internship you will need to prepare your resume and cover letter, and practice interviews. In a competitive market it can take up to 6-8 months to land your first job. A polished resume and cover letter will help you be competitive and increase your chances of getting that interview. Effective interviewing also takes preparation and practice, so take a look at some of the resources prepared specifically for School of Nursing Students.

Please note that career services campus-wide are moving to Handshake. Handshake is a platform that helps facilitate connecting students with employers, events, and other resources. You’ll be able to share resumes, schedule interviews, register for career fairs, and more! We encourage you to click the link to create your account and check back regularly for updates.

Career Services Support

In today’s competitive job market, an effective resume, cover letter and application are essential when being considered for a nursing position. The School of Nursing will assist nursing students with review of their resumes, cover letters and applications as well as respond to job search and career related questions.

To Schedule an Appointment

Click here to schedule an appointment with Beth Dawson, the School of Nursing career advisor.

Undergraduate Careers

  • What can I do with a major in Nursing?

    As you begin your journey of self-discovery and prepare for the twenty-first century challenges, the choice of academic major and your path after graduation may feel like the two most important decisions. Take the first steps in deciding on a major by researching what you can do with a major in nursing.

    For more information, click here.

  • Shadowing

    Whether you are still exploring different healthcare careers, or have already decided what profession you would like to pursue, shadowing can be a great way to learn more about whether a given health profession is the right fit for you.

    For more information, click here.

  • Career Related Workshops

    The Nursing Career Services Office, housed in Academic Affairs in the School of Nursing helps students develop meaningful plans to ensure career success.  Please check the student site homepage for more information on upcoming events and workshops.

  • Resumes
  • Cover Letters

    Cover letters are concise, informative, and should pique the reader’s interest. It should complement, not duplicate your resume and focus the prospective employer’s attention to pertinent areas of experience. Your cover letter should draw connections between your experiences and those the employer is seeking, linking concrete items from your resume with broader ideas and skill areas.

    From the job announcement for the position in which you are interested, identify a few of your accomplishments that are most related to the requirements of this position. Describe them in such a way that the reader can link his/her needs to your skills. Show him/her that you have solved similar problems.

    Sample Cover Letter #1

    Sample Cover Letter #2

    Sample Cover Letter #3

    Sample Cover Letter First Year Nursing Student

  • References

    When applying for internships and jobs, references may be asked for in one of two ways; include a list of references or include a letter of reference.

    List of References

    Keep your reference list consistent with your resume. Use the same typeface and heading format.

    • Ask for permission before you list someone as a reference.
    • Ask if they have any reservations about providing a reference for you. If so, you may want to ask someone else.
    • List your references in the order in which you want them to be contacted.
    • Prepare your reference before they are contacted. Give them a copy of your resume and keep them apprised of your progress. Let them know when to expect a reference call and who may be calling. Describe the position for them. Ask your reference to highlight the experiences that are most relevant to the position you are seeking. Remember, they are probably providing references for many students, so help them help you.
    • Let your references know the outcome of your job search. Be sure to send a thank you note acknowledging them for their assistance.
    • Bring extra copies of your reference list to an interview (along with extra copies of your resume).
    • A sample reference list can be found under the Related Links

    Letter of Reference

    Some applications will ask that you include a letter of reference with your materials. It is important to recognize that writing these letters are sometimes, depending upon the circumstances, very time-consuming activities. Hence, you should consider your requests carefully, and think ahead. The following points may be helpful to you to remember.

    1. Timing. Ask for a letter of reference well in advance of the time you need it (with 2 weeks a preferable minimum). You are probably not the only one making such a request at any given time.
    2. Relevance. Only ask professors/instructors/supervisors who have had some time to come to know you and to observe your performance. Don’t assume a professor can write a favorable letter just because you are a student in the program; their written word must be credible and based on substance.
    3. Supporting materials. At the time that you ask and the person agrees to provide a letter, supply all relevant information about yourself (resume, personal statement, other useful information, perhaps including the relevant organization’s website) and about the letter requirements (such as the due date and any special instructions). Plan to provide a stamped, pre-addressed envelope for the letter.
  • Interviewing

    The ideal interview is a two-way street, allowing the employer to convey information to you, the interviewee, about the job and the organization, while you have the opportunity to discuss your qualifications and the information on your resume. The interview is the most important element in the job search process. It is a time to assess the “match” between you and the employer. The employer will be assessing your background, skills, personal style, and interest in the position/organization and supplying you with information about the job and the organization. You will be providing the interviewer with information on your skills, your level of commitment, and your experiences, while at the same time eliciting enough information to ascertain whether or not the particular job/organization is right for you.

    Tools for interviews follow.

    Interviewing Techniques

    Sample Interview Questions

    Sample Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

    Thank Yous & Follow Up Correspondence

  • Residency Programs

    AACN Residency Programs

    Residency programs are a great way to gain footing as new graduate nurse. Participants in a nurse residency program are able to continue developing their nursing skillset and gaining experience in a structured manor. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports that nurses who engage in a nurse residency program feel more confident in their decision-making and are more satisfied with their employers. Employers experience better retention and less turnover with their staff. Patients receive more quality care and more engaged caregivers. A list of AACN’s residency programs can be found here.


    VALOR and VA Nurse Residency Program

    Madison, WI – William S Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital

    Contact: Erica Olson, Nurse Recruiter –
    Telephone: 608-256-1901 ext 1-1054
    Application: Download here

    Internship/Externships: Offers 5 VALOR (Veterans Affairs Learning Opportunity Residency), 400 hour summer positions between junior and senior year. If additional funding approved, continues for another 400 hours, during senior year. Very competitive. VALOR program students will be paid at a training rate of $20+/hour. Formal application submitted to VA by January 25, 2018 at 4pm.

    CNA: You can be hired as nursing assistant; certification “helpful” but not required. These are actual positions, hired as openings occur. Intermittent Positions available with flexible scheduling. Send Resume, Cover Letter, and Unofficial/Official Transcripts to Stav Shtekel at via email for paperwork and assistance with process.

Graduate Careers


Beth Dawson

Career and Undergraduate Advisor