Already a winner

Wende Witthuhn and two classmates took top prize at National Collegiate Planning Challenge

By Liz Skinner

Jun 9, 2013 @ 12:01 am (Updated 10:42 pm) EST

Witthuh
Witthuh

Wende Witthuhn and two of her Kansas State University classmates won first place this past year at the National Collegiate Planning Challenge. Now she hopes things go as well as she begins her financial planning career.

Ms. Witthuhn, 22, graduated in May and began a full-time internship with Bluestem Financial Advisors LLC in Champaign, Ill., 10 days later. If her employer is satisfied with her performance after two months, she will become a permanent paraplanner/financial analyst in August.

She's hoping to gain real-world knowledge of the planning business which she recognizes she could not learn during the past four years as she earned her bachelor's degree in personal financial planning.

The recent graduate brings to Bluestem some firsthand experience helping people with their finances. During her years at Kansas State University, she volunteered to help other students with financial counseling. Ms. Witthuhn also worked on taxes for clients while interning with a tax preparer.

Winning the National Collegiate Planning Challenge also gave her a boost. Her team was one of only eight finalists to present at the Financial Planning Association's national meeting in San Antonio in September.

Although her university has sent a team to the competition every year since it began in 2000, this is the first year that KSU's team won.

“That was a really good confidence booster,” Ms. Witthuhn said. “It was great for networking and to realize that I have the talent to do this.”

She anticipates working at Bluestem while getting her CFP designation and wants to become a financial planner with the firm.

“I like taking my time to work my way up,” Ms. Witthuhn said. “But I definitely want to work towards being a financial planner.”

Ms. Witthuhn's affinity for working with numbers attracted her toward business. But she soon realized that she would rather interact with people more than she expected she would.

When Ms. Witthuhn met an upperclassman a few years ago who was working on a comprehensive financial plan for a seminar class, she was immediately interested.

“I was intrigued by the idea of helping a person with every area of their finances,” she said. “I liked the challenge of that.”

When Ms. Witthuhn begins at Bluestem, it will be the first time the Kansan will have lived outside the state.

She found the job through professors at school who told their students about certain available positions back in January. They called Ms. Witthuhn in February and conducted a telephone interview with her soon afterward.