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Next Generation of Business Leaders

Nicole Ciskowski

bba '23 | Marketing

Barrington, Illinois

Taking Lessons From the Golf Course and Applying Them To a Career In Sales

Just like her path to a collegiate athletic career, Nicole Ciskowski did not not find her path to business directly.

Enrolled as a pre-business student, Nicole joined the Women in Business student organization to “get her feet wet in the business world.” But one thing she did know was that coming to UW–Madison—a place where both athletics and academics are held in high esteem—appealed to her drive for success.

“I’m proud of how far I’ve come, whether that’s in my sport or in academics,” says Nicole. “I wasn’t a direct admit to the business school. I didn’t know if I would play college golf. I didn’t know if I was good enough to get there. I’m really happy with how motivated I’ve become.”

“Being able to walk in another person’s shoes and have a lot of empathy is really important.”

Growing up a golfer, Nicole has always had an innate drive to compete and perform well. Once in college though, she had to build up her resilience on the course and in the classroom. Through the help of coaches and counselors, she’s learned that one substandard performance doesn’t mean she is an inadequate athlete or student. 

“There are two really important things that I’ve had to develop, not only in my golf game, but that apply to business as well. You have to be really mentally tough and be individually motivated. Not every hole is the same, not every shot is the same. Being able to compartmentalize what I’m doing out there and how I can better myself–I think that applies to business as well.”

Nicole Ciskowski with the text Exact Sciences

An internship at Exact Sciences—a Madison-based manufacturer of cancer screening products—helped Nicole discover a sales career that helps others.

Nicole Ciskowski playing golf

Playing for the University of Wisconsin–Madison women’s golf team has taught Nicole key lessons that she can apply to business.

A good communicator with a personable demeanor, Nicole will be pursuing a sales career in the tech or medical device industry upon graduation. After an internship at Exact Sciences, a Madison-area biotech company, she sees the industry as a great fit for her ambitious drive for success and a unique platform to help people.

“I didn’t know that health care was going to be the space for me at first, but selling peace of mind is something that’s really important to me. Growing up, I just wanted to be part of a place that does better for people.”

“Growing up, I just wanted to be part of a place that does better for people.”

Nicole has honed her ability to empathetically connect to others well, and values those qualities in herself as a leader.

“I’m really outgoing and really like to talk to people. So when I step in a room, I like to make people as comfortable as they can be. Being able to walk in another person’s shoes and have a lot of empathy is really important. [Having a career that requires] talking to people on a regular basis is something that gets me really excited for the future.”

Nicole Ciskowski and her sister Evelyn standing next to each other

Nicole says her middle sister, Evelyn, is her biggest inspiration and exact opposite, which has made Nicole better in many ways.

Favorite spot on campus?

Probably Camp Randall. It’s obviously the home of athletics, so it’s an exciting place to be.

What are you listening to?

I'm a really big country music fan, so a lot of Jason Aldean, Morgan Wallen.

Coffee or tea?

I'm a big coffee person. I like to explore different coffee shops in the area.

Beach or mountains?

I love the beach. My family lives in Florida, so we like to travel down there.