Dan Mauk will learn about financial advising at his internship.

Dan Mauk Revamps Finance Club and Lands Internship

By Becky Kramer

Dan Mauk’s path to an internship started on a sweltering day last August.

He and two classmates had recently revived the Finance Club at WSU Vancouver, which had sputtered out during the pandemic. In 100-degree heat, they handed out Otter Pops at the Student Involvement Fair and encouraged people to sign up for the club.

“We told students the club wasn’t just for finance majors. We could be a resource for their personal finance needs,” says Mauk, the club president.

As students snapped up Otter Pops, they shared their pressing money questions: How can I make my dollars stretch during inflation? Do I need life insurance? How do I create a financial plan? Should I pay off debts or start investing? Mauk and the other club officers jotted down the questions, promising to follow-up with a personal finance forum.

In early November, the Finance Club brought five finance professionals to campus for a panel discussion. They answered students’ personal finance questions and talked about career opportunities in the field. About 45 students attended the forum, and some finance majors interviewed with the firms afterwards.

The event was so successful that Mutual of Omaha—one of the companies represented—immediately offered Mauk an internship. He’ll spend spring semester learning about financial advising and studying for his financial certification exams. When the internship ends, Mauk anticipates joining Mutual of Omaha full-time.

“I’m graduating in May, and it’s so much stress off my shoulders to have a plan mapped out,” he says.

College to career

Mauk’s story illustrates how academic clubs can help students transition from college to careers. As part of The Next Carson Coug curriculum, undergraduates are encouraged to get involved in clubs to develop skills in leadership, communication, and professional networking.

Mauk was “generally quiet in class,” says Susan He, advisor to the Finance Club and scholarly assistant professor at WSU Vancouver. But she saw Mauk’s initiative and watched his leadership skills blossom when he became club president.

“Dan is organized, detail-oriented, and he has an outstanding level of commitment and willingness to contribute to the campus community,” Susan He says.

Mauk studied at Chemeketa Community College in Oregon before transferring to WSU Vancouver for a business degree. As his senior year started, Mauk and some friends were looking for ways to connect with finance professionals for job leads. Faculty members, meanwhile, were looking for student leaders to restart the Finance Club with similar goals in mind.

“The club’s main goal is to help students get internships and successfully enter the job market,” Susan He says. “We also want to develop a culture where our graduates give back to help other students.”

Mauk and two other finance majors—Michael Davis and Korban Teitzel—stepped up as club officers. They had one week to complete the paperwork and apply for club funding from the Student Senate before the Student Involvement Fair took place.

“The president role sort of fell into my lap,” Mauk says. “Being thrown into the position was intense, but it definitely helped me get better at managing people and my time.”

Confidence and rapport

Based on the keen interest at the Student Involvement Fair, Mauk and other club officers immediately started planning the personal finance forum. Mauk reached out to companies to get them to participate and kept the event planning moving along.

Each time he talked in front of an audience or emailed a business professional, Mauk’s confidence grew. His rapport with his peers helped with recruiting new club members and delegating duties.

“Sometimes, I get called the group’s ‘dad,’” he says. “I’m good at keeping people organized and on track.”

Mauk’s ambitions for the club also included putting on a campuswide event with other student organizations. Since WSU Vancouver is a commuter campus, many students don’t spend much time there outside of classes. “We wanted to bring some life to campus and help students connect with each other,” Mauk says.

More than 300 students attended the first all-campus Harvest Festival, held the week after Thanksgiving. Student clubs gave away prizes, put on games, and provided other entertainment.

Mauk cofounded the festival committee with two other students. Bringing a food truck to campus was one of his achievements. “It was something other student groups had tried but weren’t able to do,” he says.

Mauk researched menu pricing and cost structure before he approached the vendor. Then he used skills from his negotiations class to strike a deal.

Financial advising opportunities

Without the Finance Club, Mauk says Mutual of Omaha wouldn’t have been on his radar as a place to work. “I thought the company was all about selling insurance, but they also do financial advising for families and businesses,” he says.

Mauk will job shadow Mutual of Omaha advisors as part of his internship, getting exposure to different career paths.

“I’m interested in working with companies, helping them with financial planning and business optimization,” he says. “But I also love the wealth management side.”