Louis Zmich – Student Intern Farewell Address

CAUTION: This is a longer piece than normal. I have a hard time saying goodbye. Enjoy!

Here we are, the final weeks of my undergraduate career. It seems like everyone tells you, “These years will fly by so fast” and you think to yourself, “Yeah, whatever.” But five years later, and here we are. I remember walking into the main halls of Elmhurst College, working late hours as a custodian and thinking to myself how the days were dragging along. Fast forward to my first semester here at NIU, walking down the street from the boarding house, which I shared with 12 strangers on Augusta Ave., to the Art Building basement auditorium for Business Calculus.

Does anyone else remember that class? I seriously thought I would never pass, and I started having thoughts of changing my major because, if being a business major was anything like that class, I didn’t think I would make it. But something happened that made me work through it, and I’m not entirely sure what that “something” was.

Once I got my bearings of NIU, I started to feel like I was actually growing as an individual. I began to take more classes at Barsema Hall, classes like OMIS 259 and MGMT 217, soaking up as much of the College of Business as I could. I knew this place was going to be my home, and I wanted to race through my classes in other areas of campus, just to come to Barsema.

A lot of memories have been made here. I remember barely squeaking by in ACCY 206 and 207, literally getting a B by the exact number of points needed, in both classes! Man, I will never forget the moment I calculated my scores, what a rush of relief. Then came UBUS 310, the class that kept me, and many others, up late at night. This was the class that fostered my love for Marketing. From there, it seems like I blinked, and now I’m writing this. I got involved in a lot of different clubs and organizations and tried to volunteer my time whenever I could. The struggles, successes, failures, trips taken, countries visited, and competitions attended, all contributed to who I am today. In a way, the College of Business morphed me to who I now portray to the world. The College of Business helped me identify my personal brand. Wow, I never really thought of that before. I didn’t want to be left out of making a difference, which led me to Social Entrepreneurship, CAUSE, DSAB, DSP and my current internship, for which I am writing this article. These organizations allowed me to do so many things, and get involved in making others’ lives, and the world a better place. All of those organizations are more than just acronyms, they’re an opportunity, a chance to grow, learn, and set yourself up for success.

From sales role-plays to class presentations, every moment seems so small. Every obstacle seems to be a burden, and we tend to race to the finish line to then look around and realize we didn’t enjoy the ride. This last reflection for me as an intern is unique because I’ve had the opportunity to talk to many wonderful people. People, who come from all different walks of life, have different reasons for being at NIU, and most importantly, have different opinions and lessons to share with others. This internship has allowed me to meet the many individuals who have shaped my life. I urge you to press pause on your day and look around. Enjoy your little victories and relish in the beauty around you, what you have, what opportunities you should capitalize on; because if you don’t, you may run too fast and realize you didn’t enjoy how you got there. Or worse, realize you chose the wrong direction to go! Enjoy this journey, you have the opportunity to be whoever you want to be, so embrace yourself and who you are. I promise there will be other people who like the same things as you do. Don’t succumb to a specific agenda, instead, write your own and others will follow. Love the skin you’re in, and people will love you for you, and not a fake representation of you. You do this, and these next few years will be some of the best of your life.

I want this farewell address (wait, he’s not done?) to serve two purposes: to let me say goodbye, for now, to this position and the school I have come to love, but to also say welcome to those students who are new here, traditional or not. Yes, yes, your time will fly by, (insert any other cliche thing to say), but I want to let you know what college is all about. Well, from my perspective anyway, and hope you get something out of this. If nothing else, enjoy it here, don’t let the small things get you down. My biggest piece of advice, if you read nothing past this line, is to step back and ask yourself, “Does this make me a better person?” If the answer is no, don’t sweat over it and walk away. Naturally, you ask, “Well, does Louie’s article make me a better person?” I’m glad we both agree that you should keep reading.

 

Your competitive advantage

In business, we often times talk about competitive advantage, what do you have that separates you from your competition, and your answer cannot be a degree anymore. When you look around at graduation, everyone is on the same playing field, we all have our degree. What separates you are the things you do, what you were involved in, the jobs you held and connections you have made. You have a choice to make, and the only force stopping you is you.

The biggest resource you have as a student is just that, you are a student, not competition. Companies are more than happy to tell you what they know, offer up shadow days, and make connections. You never know when you’ll use those connections down the line. Find the time to contact companies and be proactive on going after new businesses. Once you go on those trips and meet those people, do the unexpected! When was the last time you received a hand-written letter? Or a thank you email, just for sacrificing your time for someone? Those things matter and they seem like common sense, but let me tell you, they are not common practice. Do the extra steps and buy someone lunch, or a drink, and continue to do small kind things for others. I promise it will pay off.

We all are creatures of habit, we get up, go through the motions and then, when it’s too late, realize all of the things we should have done. In funny memory of Shiah Labuff’s “Just do it!” video, he has a point. What is the advantage of sitting around? You never want to look back on your life and say to others that you should have done X, Y or Z. You want to look back on your life with accomplishment, something to hang your hat on, and be a role model for others to come. But I can’t convince you to do those things, you come to school each day, you have the student loans, you know your reasoning as to why you’re here, reading this right now. Battle through, take the time to do things right and do things once.

 

What if I fail?

Do it quickly and keep moving. Learn from your mistakes but don’t let them define you as a person. In fact, embrace failure! That’s the only way you get better. Ever met a perfect person? Me neither, so who cares! Be ready to run for positions and lose, be ready to volunteer an opinion and have it shut down, be ready to submit an assignment and get it torn to pieces! It’s life, and if you’re ready for it, embrace it, who can get you down? No one. Be yourself and embrace who you are, never live your life in the light of which another casts you in. If you’ve been labeled the “Lazy Person” in your friend group, prove them wrong, if your parents have said that education doesn’t match a well-paying job, prove them wrong. Invest in yourself today, so you reap the rewards of a great career down the line. You are laying the building blocks of your life right here and now. You’ll be glad you took the time to do so.

 

Closing Thoughts. 

Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to publish work and interact with all of you. This journey has been fantastic and completely turned my life in a new direction and had made the person I am today. There is so much I could tell you about college, but really, it boils down to being yourself, getting involved in as much as your can, and be curious. Ask questions and continue learning, even when you leave college. Keep improving yourself intellectually, and don’t be afraid to stand out. It’s never too late to go after your dreams, and just remember, the only one who will ever stop you from doing great things, is you.

 

Thank you again, and I hope to speak to all of you again, sometime in the future.

~ Louie Zmich (05/01/2017)

Part 4: Students of NIU Business

Editor’s Note (Louie here):  Here’s Part 4 of “Students of NIU Business,” our new and ongoing initiative project modeled after Humans of New York.  Remember if you’re an NIU Business student who wants to be featured in “Students of NIU Business,” send an email to Social Media & Marketing Intern extraordinaire Louie at lzmich1@niu.edu!!

Part 4: Students of NIU Business 

_________________________________________________________________________

untitledMaria is a transferred junior Business Administration major, with a Fashion Merchandising minor. She’s from Palatine, IL, and this is her first semester here!

She was really excited to have the opportunity to go to and transfer from, a community college before deciding on a major. Here is what Maria had to say about her transition to NIU, “When I got out of high school, I thought I was going to go to California, to a high-end fashion school. I decided to switch to business because I felt like fashion wasn’t the best fit for me to grow as quickly as I wanted. I was thinking of going to Minnesota or Indiana, but then I looked at NIU. When I was on the initial tours of the campus, Barsema Hall completely hooked me into the college. I picked Business Administration because it has all the aspects of business, funneled into one degree. I think the College of Business is going to personally fuel my goals by trying to get involved with Women in Business, Delta Sigma Pi, and CAUSE. I want to take the skills I learn and become a CEO of a company some day. My main goal there would be to reduce the carbon footprint the company leaves on the world. I want to be among the many women that have already achieved major success in the business world, I get that passion from my step mother Bobbie. She encourages me to be an empowered woman in business. So that has always been really important to me. My advice to others would be to take the initiative to do something today! Oh yeah, and a fun fact about me, I love cats!”

_________________________________________________________________________

Senior Accountancy Major, Sarahsara-woo Woo! Sarah took the time to share her story on how she came to NIU, and what kind of tips she could offer other students before she graduates.

“What really interested me at NIU was the Accountancy program here. It was always ranked in Business Week’s top Accountancy programs. When I came to visit NIU, I really got the sense that this is a community that helps develop the student body. When you compare universities of comparable competitive standing, professors have a focus solely on research. However, here at NIU, research is certainly important but the development of the students was the highest priority. That was immediately evident, and I was impressed by it.

As far as what I am up to now, I wrapped up my internship with BDO USA, LLP last semester. They asked for me to come back for a second internship during the spring semester and then offered a full-time position upon my graduation. I have accepted that offer, and I couldn’t be more excited to get started! I really commend the Accountancy program, the career fair, and the classes here, as they give me the tools to be able to find these opportunities for growth and success, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

My first internship was in audit, and the second internship will be in tax. The firm was really flexible in offering different accounting opportunities and they ultimately gave me the choice of what my full-time offer will be in, and I am excited to start my career in public accounting with them.

As I leave NIU, I think there are a few things I could say to those who are in or just entering the college. The College of Business offers so many rich opportunities for students to explore. One very important thing to do is to dive on in and get involved. Get involved with the student organizations around you and get to know your peers. These people are going to be your greatest resources and your largest support groups. Also, get to know your professors; you never know who could possibly be your next role model. The professors here really have impressive backgrounds. They all have accomplished really important and great things, and I’ve found they’re all willing to share their experiences. Ask questions, stay curious, and have a positive attitude. If you do that, nothing can stop you.”

_________________________________________________________________________

cordnei-gibsonCordnei is a Sophomore Business Management major and is planning on getting the Sales Certificate. Here is what Cordnei had to say about her life, and how she came to NIU!

“I’m from Canton Michigan, and a lot of people have asked me why I came to NIU, with all of the other universities around my hometown. The cool thing about NIU is, the school reaches out to a lot of students in the US, and the world for that matter, reaching a much greater audience. So, I checked out the website and it was really easy to navigate! The virtual tours and student resources were a huge help for my friend and me, and as a result, we both ended up applying. I called my dad all excited and visited campus 3 times to make sure it was the right decision. I ended up falling in love with the atmosphere here, the campus is gorgeous and the entire time all the advisors talked about internship opportunities at the COB. At NIU, the College of Business gives you hands-on, real-world experience and I couldn’t pass that up. I definitely made the right decision; it’s impossible to fail here. Anyone will be successful here, I’m confident in that.

I honestly feel like I have a leg up on people at other schools, simply because I’m in the College of Business. The opportunities they give us here are phenomenal. The way the COB does orientation is very uncommon, they make their students feel comfortable in all areas. Anyone is willing to sit down with you and go through your career plan. I haven’t seen that with any other college, so early in your college career. I’m only a sophomore, but I feel comfortable with my career choices, moving forward.

In high school, I was really involved, and that’s when my dad explained what project management was to me. He saw the leader inside of me, and how to achieve goals in teams, so I researched it immensely and decided that I should major in Management to fulfill my passion for driving people to achieve their goals. Management is going to allow me to motivate people and get team objectives completed.

After joining PSE, they encouraged me to network with others and gave me opportunities to meet managers and recruiters right away, my freshman year. That opportunity was and still continues to be an amazing experience. It’s always nice to get out and meet business owners and managers, no matter where you are in your professional career.

Here’s a fun fact for everyone: my mom decided to name me Cordnei to match my twin brother’s name, Cordell. We were born on Valentine’s Day, and we are two minutes apart (he is the oldest, and he never lets me forget that). And another fun fact is that we were both born on Valentine’s Day.”

_________________________________________________________________________

kenzie

Kenzie Niestrom is a senior Business Administration major with a minor in Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship! Louie had the chance to sit down and discuss all that she has accomplished in her time here at the CoB!

“When I first got out of high school I went to a different college and then transferred to College of DuPage after my first semester, so I could continue working. When I was at COD, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I chose Business to get the most out of my career. NIU has a lot of partnerships with community colleges, including COD, which means if you get your associate degree before transferring to NIU, you don’t need to take your Gen Eds. I really liked the transferability here; other schools were not as accommodating. I only applied to NIU for this reason. It worked out perfectly, I’m from Lisle so it was close, and I liked the accreditation and prestige the College of Business here has.

I choose business administration because it seemed like I could do so much with the degree, and once I got settled in; I realized I could get just about any job with the skills I would be obtaining.

When I got here I joined BASA (Business Administration Student Association). At the time there were about 5 members, 4 of whom were graduating that year. I was the only member left, so there was a lot of motivation to rebuild the organization and give Business Administration a voice. I helped rebuild BASA and now it has a full e-board with 35 members strong. I had to essentially redo everything last fall; I made a new vision and bylaws while working with Brittany Buis (my academic advisor) a lot to get everything finalized. We marketed it and with the help of BA majors being funneled into the same classes, the organization grew. By having all Business Administration students in one area, the organization had a chance to have people strengthening the major and getting to know each other at the same time.

Overall, my time here has been really awesome. I’m in BASA and MBSAB (Management and Business Administration Student Advisory Board). I’m also on DSAB (Dean Student Advisory Board) and Women in Business. Being involved in all of those has helped personalize my experience at NIU. I was able to network with so many people, which can be difficult when you come in as a junior. I love the classes I’m taking and the professors have been so supportive throughout my time here.

As far as my career after college, I am working in the professional development labs at Abbott. That was fostered in the ELC program where I worked for them and then landed an internship. I loved that internship, which ultimately led to my job there.

I’m a Business Administration major who went into IT, and I know of BA majors who went into retail, sales, logistics, distribution and a few who went into IT as well. It’s so cool how we can be marketed to so many different areas of business, simply because we took such a wide variety of classes.

If I had to reach out to students who are not ready to go away to college or do not know what they are going to do, so ultimately you go to a community college first; I would say that it’s okay not to know. College is scary and some people are ready to go away and some are not, it’s okay to not have a concrete plan. It’s okay to figure out what you like and what you don’t like when you take a wide range of classes, now you are better versed and immersed in so much more than you would be if you only had your mind set on one major.”

_________________________________________________________________________

phillip-wilsonPhillip Wilson, om&is major

“Junior operations and information management major Phillip Wilson of Chicago, IL, had a different start to his college career, due to the influence of his mother. Wilson went to work immediately after graduating from high school and was successful in his job, making good money. But even with this success, his mother continued to push him to enroll in college and to pursue the path of a higher education. ‘I thought I’d come out here and be a middle of the road student,’ Wilson said. He hadn’t excelled in high school and had mediocre grades. But things are different for him at NIU. ‘I didn’t think I’d be getting a 3.4-grade point average and joining honor societies.’ He maintains a high-grade point average and is going to be a mentor for incoming freshman through the John Henrik Clarke Honor Society. If it wasn’t for his mother, Wilson admits that he would have probably stayed where he was, doing the job he was working at, for the next 50 years. His mother is happy to point this out to Wilson. ‘She brings it up as much as she can,’ he said. ‘She drops it in every conversation.’”

_________________________________________________________________________

15400918_10154307384293883_656221336830099539_n

Learn what Prajakta Kale is up to after graduating with an MIS degree in 2015 from the Department of OM&IS! Presently, Prajakta is Lead QA Analyst/Business Analyst with Duluth Trading Company, in Belleville, Wisconsin.

“Grad school is far more academically intense than undergraduate study. Whether you’re a recent undergraduate student or a mid-career professional, you’ll need to set aside some of the preconceptions you have about college lifestyle and prepare for the rigorous and rewarding experience of grad school. While my peers and I were going through this life changing experience of grad school, I witnessed that the staff in the OM&IS Department made extra efforts to smooth the transition for students. The faculty were dedicated to helping all the students achieve excellence. I appreciate the way the department designed the curriculum to match industry standards. The knowledge you gain definitely makes you an efficient employee and gives you an extra edge over your colleagues. I am grateful to the OM&IS department — they were always concerned and committed to bringing out the best in every student. In terms of what the experience helped me learn about myself, I would say it brought out my confident side. I learned that if I want something, I shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions, raise concerns, and most importantly, realize it is okay to say ‘I don’t know.’ During my OM&IS project seminars, I understood that “the best way to learn something is having to explain it to someone else.” No matter how clear you are on a subject in your head, you always gain a new perspective on it when you try to explain it to a peer/colleague. I also found out that I can be more patient than I ever knew, work excellently and multitask under pressure.”

_________________________________________________________________________

Find the complete list so far of “Students of NIU Business” in posts labeled Part 1,  Part 2, Part 3,” and so on!

If you’re an NIU Business student who wants to be featured, let us know!  We love learning more about each and every participant!  Send an email to Louie at lzmich1@niu.edu!

 

Students of NIU Business – Alumni Edition: Jeff Kamholz

I had trouble thinking of a way to integrate alumni into the posts that we do for students, here on the blog. When reaching out to young alumni, a lot of their stories are rather compelling and, on some level, can relate to a wide variety of students. I thought about doing an interview style of questioning over Skype or Facetime, but that seemed too scripted. I wanted people to simply talk, and I would listen. Then it dawned on me, this is just like the Student of NIU posts! So, we have decided to create the Students of NIU: Alumni Edition and the first entry is a recent alumnus, Jeffrey Kamholz! – Louie Zmich: Student Intern 13686626_1225983507425336_6391579270793294833_n

When I was a senior in high school, I started looking at colleges. I was on my own to pay for school, so I knew a mix of scholarships and work opportunities was a criterion I needed when looking for good business schools. I was also looking for a school relatively close to home that was simultaneously going to allow me a chance to succeed, as well as the opportunity to graduate in the best financial position possible. It was then that I found NIU and learned about the opportunities this university provides. I knew that I wanted a school with a good business program, and the proximity to home and financial opportunities on top of that were simply bonuses for me.

My first week on campus, I joined about 5 clubs. While I certainly didn’t stick with all of them, I found a few that welcomed me in and with which I was hooked. One of these clubs was Delta Sigma Pi, a professional business fraternity. That was truly the first step in my professional development. I met many of the people I was closest with through Delta Sigma Pi. Serving in other roles such as an ambassador for the college in the Northern Lights Ambassadors and on the Dean’s Student Advisory Board, I tried to find ways to help the college in any way I could. Even as a freshman and sophomore, the college had given me so much. I got to know former Dean Denise Schoenbachler very well, and she is one of the people who I consider to be my personal mentor.

I was extremely fortunate to have experienced so much during my time as a student. By getting involved in five clubs, working three jobs, experiencing two study abroad programs, and completing a research fellowship, I found myself with quite a few memorable experiences under my belt…and I was only a rising junior in college. I eventually declared marketing as my major with a specialization in sales. I chose marketing initially because I thought it would get me close to advertising, and I was fortunate enough to get to know and work with some of the faculty I originally met as a freshman. Their impact on me was profound enough for me to declare my major as marketing. As I progressed down the marketing career path, sales seemed like the best option in which to start my career; it allowed me the most freedom in a customer-facing role.

“Throughout my senior year, I was fortunate enough to interview with many companies. The sales program not only gave me real-world experience selling products but also taught me how to market myself in order to show the value I bring to companies.”

Throughout my senior year, I was fortunate enough to interview with many companies. The sales program not only gave me real-world experience selling products but also taught me how to market myself in order to show the value I bring to companies. Drs. Ridnour, Peterson, Groza and Professor Howlett all taught with different styles but similar messages. With everything from mock interviews, the sales Corporate Golf Outing, to bringing in dozens of real-world sales professionals to network with, the college’s sales program truly prepares its students for success.13227000_1176521745704846_3470934632335728426_n

I highly recommend that students interview with more than one company; only by speaking to employees of those companies and doing things like shadow days will you be able to realize truly what a ‘day in the life’ is actually like. While it certainly helps to have an idea of the industry you want to get into, it is okay to not know for certain. Interview with a few companies, and figure out where you think you would fit best.

Fast forwarding to present day, I’m in the middle of a year-long sales training program with Bloomberg BNA. Because of the experiences I had during my time in the College of Business at NIU, I was able to stand out enough and put myself into a position to succeed. I have been extremely fortunate to find a company that has been willing to invest so much in me. I chose Bloomberg BNA because of the career development opportunities and the long-term career potential. I felt that the year-long training was unmatched; additionally, the company’s commitment to its employees is rather unheard of at this level of business. I have always looked for that “something more” in a company, and I found it at Bloomberg BNA.

So far, I have directly used skills and techniques that I learned in the sales program. Anyone who has gone through the sales program recently has read both The Challenger Sale, as well as SPIN Selling. I have so far applied the principles of both books in my mock sessions. (Yes, sales students, you should actually read the books!) Learning how to ask the right questions and listening to what the customer says are two of the most important skills that I have developed so far.

“Moving across the country and knowing very few people in a new location was a step I didn’t think I was going to take. Once I thought of it as an investment into my own future, the idea began to grow on me.”

13490589_10206971089097581_8911327828286944050_o

Jeff, third from the left, with all of his colleagues in training.

Bloomberg BNA’s home office is located just outside of Washington DC, which meant I had to relocate for a year for the training program. Even though originally I had not anticipated leaving the greater Chicago area, I chose to accept a position that I felt was going to set me up for long-term success. Moving across the country and knowing very few people in a new location was a step I didn’t think I was going to take. Once I thought of it as an investment into my own future, the idea began to grow on me.

Recognizing the potential in the opportunity, I knew it would be the best decision and the best place to start my career. I view this year not only as an investment in my professional future but also in my personal life. Aside from a few months spent in Europe, I had never been away from Illinois for an extended period. I never thought I would be relocating- until the right opportunity presented itself, and I could see myself at that company.

If I was to give a bit of advice, it would be the following: It is okay to not know what you want to do; once you figure it out, however, be relentless in pursuing it. Overall, this was the best career move for me and for my future. While moving away from home certainly wasn’t easy, I knew that it was something I had to do in order to meet my own definition of success. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone in order to set yourself up for success.”

1378000_553703701367742_1076155035_n

 

It’s Time To Register For The 2016 Social Impact Summit Hosted By CAUSE

CAUSE Logo

Register Now For The 2016 Social Impact Summit!

The founder and director of Global Orphan Prevention will be among the featured guests Friday, April 8, at the Social Impact Summit, located in the Barsema Alumni and Visitor Center starting at 8:30am!

REGISTER NOW! REGISTRATION CLOSES APRIL 1ST!

The event, hosted by the NIU-based Collegiate Association of Unreasonable Social Entrepreneurs, is intended to educate students (and others) about social entrepreneurialism, to inspire them to increase their societal and environmental impacts and to create a forum where individuals passionate about changing the world can network.

Tickets are $5 for NIU students and $20 for all others. Registration is available Social Impactonline. The event is sponsored by Product Development Technologies (PDT).

The event will include presentations by social entrepreneurs, including Katie Hilborn as the keynote speaker. Katie is the founder and director of Global Orphan Prevention, an international nonprofit dedicated to keeping mothers and children together through social entrepreneurship, education, and a clean birthing program.

Katie HilbornKatie grew up in St. Charles, Illinois and spent most of her adult life in the Colorado ski town of Breckenridge. Because she lived in a seasonal environment, she had the opportunity to leave the country during the off-seasons. Since beginning to travel the globe in 2006 after she graduated from university, she always incorporated a volunteer project. Now twenty-seven countries and six continents later, she has seen first-hand how the developing world lives and has made it her mission to change that.

Currently, she is working on a social entrepreneurship program to help eradicate child trafficking in Nepal. By investing in cash crops (chili and cardamom farming), her hope is that these income generating activities will help empower the marginalized indigenous populations.

For more information, check out her website, here.

This year, CAUSE will have a similar schedule with a few changes:

  1. 8:30 – 9:15am: Coffee and Pastries with opening remarks from CAUSE
  2. 9:15 – 10:00am: Keynote Speaker, Katie Hilborn
  3. 10:05 – 10:45am: Breakout Sessions #1
  4. 10:50 – 11:30am: Breakout Session #2
  5. 11:30 – 12:00pm: Lunch and Networking
  6. 12:00 – 1:15pm: Pitch With a CAUSE Competition
  7. Closing Remarks from CAUSESave The Date

There will be two rounds of breakout sessions, and guests can choose which panel to sit in on each round. Panels to choose from during the day will include:

Impact Investing Panel:

  • Somya Munjal, is a CPA, MBA, MAS and is the Chief Youth Servant at Youthful Savings.
  • Eric Wasowicz is an Investor and Advisor with Channel Clarity LLC.
  • Joe Parisi is a Co-founder of Guard Lama.
  • Greg Lernihan, is the Co-founder of Convergint Technologies.

Working In Developing Countries:

  • Katie Hilborn is the founder and director of Global Orphan Prevention.
  • Rich Johnson is the Cofounder and CEO of Spark Ventures.
  • Kurt Thurmaier is a professor and researcher at Northern Illinois University.
  • Nancy Economou is the founder and president of Watts of Love.

Technology:

  • Moira Hardek is the President and CEO of Galvanize Labs, Inc.
  • Abby Ross is the co-founder and COO of ThinkCERCA.
  • Mark Schwartz is the CEO at PDT.

Pitch With a CAUSE Competition:

  • Pitch With a CAUSE is a competition for anyone who has an idea for a business that makes a positive social or environmental impact. The competition is open to anyone who’s interested in making a submission- high schoolers, undergrads, grad students, non-students, retirees, kindergarteners, etc. Everyone is welcome. A panel of expert investors and social entrepreneurs will select the top 5 submissions to present at the Social Impact Summit on Friday, April 8th. Each group will have 5 minutes to pitch their idea followed up with 5 minutes of Q and A from the audience and panel of judges. The team selected as the winner at the 2016 Social Impact Summit will take home the $1,500 grand prize! Second place wins $1,000 and third place wins $500!

For more information on the Social Impact Summit or CAUSE in general, please email the CAUSE President, Ilsa, at ilsaachaudhri@gmail.com.

Make Dreams Happen

Editor’s note (Michelle here):  I’m thrilled to post the latest installment of “Life After Graduation.” In this post, marketing alumnus (student-athlete alumnus!) Troy White shares his thoughtful insights on his journey to date after graduating from NIU Business.  Thank you, Troy, as always for taking the time to share your very thoughtful words of wisdom with me and all of us!  Keep making a difference as you so truly do!

Career Bio

Sometimes the journey isn’t a straight line—but you grow a lot and gain a lot by persevering.  My path to the Chicago White Sox had a couple of twists and turns.

When I graduated I began to communicate with various professional sports organizations about my desire to work in the industry. I was informed by many that there weren’t any positions available at the time. After receiving this disappointing news, I began working as a Staffing Consultant at an employment services company in downtown Chicago. Approximately 10 months into this position, I was offered a business development opportunity with a business intelligence firm, which I accepted.

Then in July 2013—I’ll never forget this—I navigated through my email inbox and stumbled across a message I had sent to a professional sports team. It was like a wake-up call…I realized again how passionate I am about working in sports.

I contacted my former NIU baseball coach, Ed Mathey, and informed him of my goal and dream to work in sports. Ed was supportive and stated that he would assist in any way possible. My family has supported my passion throughout my life and helped me to tailor a new message, which I sent out again to professional sports organizations.

The revamped letter garnered a reply from Christine O’Reilly, Vice President of Community Relations with the Chicago White Sox. She indicated that the White Sox organization has yearly internships and said it’s a great way to “get your foot in the door.” I was instructed to let her know if an internship was of interest, and then she would forward my resume and message to Moira Foy, the Vice President of Human Resources. Without hesitation, I responded “YES, I would greatly appreciate it if you would forward my credentials.” It was an opportunity I could not pass up, even with the risk it posed.

Mind you, I was still employed at the business intelligence firm and performing well. To go from a secure opportunity with great benefits to a paid internship with no certainty, exhibits my passion and confidence in my work ethic.

In August, I interviewed for one of the 10 sales internship positions and earned the opportunity. Let’s fast forward to the month of February 2015, when a full-time sales employee accepted a position outside of the company and another employee assumed his position. This meant that there was now ONE full-time opportunity available within the Client Services division of the White Sox organization. All sales interns were informed of the opportunity and invited to apply. This was an exciting time, because one of us was going to earn a full-time position. After the interviews were conducted, we all patiently waited for our individual meetings to find out who earned the position.

Through all my hard work, dedication and previous experience I was chosen to join the Client Service team. So two years into my journey, I had finally achieved my goal! I wouldn’t have accomplished this without the constant support from my family, friends and Ed Mathey. It’s also important that I believed in myself and took the risk to start as an intern with the White Sox.

Did you know right away as a student what you wanted to do in business?

I only knew that I wanted to have a career in the sports industry. My exact position and responsibilities were not as certain. And even though my career didn’t begin in sports right away, the skill set and knowledge I obtained from my previous experiences proved to be instrumental to my current successes.

How do you show up in the world?

It’s important that I’m seen as reliable, hard-working, competitive and authentic. I want people in my life to know that if something needs to get done that I’m the person capable of making it happen. My participation in sports and family upbringing has instilled a desire to achieve greatness. In whatever endeavors I undertake, I’m going to work hard to achieve success otherwise I’m wasting my time and everyone else’s. No matter what level of success I achieve, it’s important to retain authenticity and to remain humble.

With your background and now a career in sports, you’ve seen good teamwork up close.  What components make a team good or even great?

As a former collegiate athlete and now working in sports, teamwork is crucial to success. Teamwork in school, business and on the field has similarities. Every good team must have accountability. If a member is deviating from the plan, it needs to be addressed and that individual needs to understand that it’s not personal but rather realize the importance of his/her contributions. Good teamwork requires picking up or covering for a teammate to ensure that the group doesn’t miss a beat (i.e. selflessness). Lastly, no individual can be “bigger” than the goal. No matter what your title or position is, everyone is contributing to the team effort and no one person is more important than the group and its goal.

In what way is NIU Business uncommon?

There are multiple aspects that make NIU Business unique. However, the support that the faculty provides its students is astounding! The NIU College of Business does a tremendous job of supporting their students’ extracurricular activities and taking a genuine interest in their lives. Many times I would have conversations with faculty members about things that were unrelated to what was mentioned in class or even NIU or the College of Business. This personal touch and genuine interest is what I will always remember.

How do you stay hungry?

Simply, I set goals. It’s amazing how impactful it is to your success when you write down your goals or create a vision board. I like setting some lofty goals, because every day I wake up, I know it’s time to go to work if there’s something to be accomplished. As odd as it may sound, I appreciate failure. I’ve failed all throughout my young life, but that helps to provide motivation. There is much to learn from an individual who has failed, including how he/she reacts to failure. Will they pity themselves or is he/she going to use that failure as a motivating factor? The latter is my mindset, which is why I set goals that I truly want, without watering them down into what I can ”more than likely” accomplish. The knowledge you gain on the journey to your goals is invaluable…even if it takes 1, 2 or even 10 years longer to get there than you originally expected.

Tell us your “WHY?”

Many factors motivate me in my life; some internal and some external. The greatest external factor is my drive to show my family and friends appreciation for all of the support and love they have shown throughout my life. I want my family to take pride in the way they raised me and the type of young man I have become and the man I will become. I can never repay them for all the time, money, love and energy they expended on my behalf, so showing them that it wasn’t in vain is my way of paying them back. In terms of internal drivers, I simply want to become successful in every aspect of my life. My competitive spirit won’t allow me to become complacent. There is always another goal to achieve.

 

Be Unreasonable … go after your dreams

Editor’s note (Michelle here):  In this Thanksgiving season, it brings me great joy to share this Life After Graduation profile from 2015 OM&IS alumnus Jacob Ferguson, another wonderful and recently graduated alumn.  Not too very long ago Jacob managed all things social media for the College of Business accounts, including the Student Voices weblog.  As you read this post, you’ll soon discover that Jacob continues to be true to who he is and what he believes. Thank you, Jacob, for sharing your wisdom and journey so far!  Keep living into your passions and making an incredible difference!  Happy season of gratitude!

 

Quick Career Bio

 (Start date: 3 months after graduation.) I currently have the honor and privilege to serve as a Corps Member at City Year in Chicago along with over 200 other individuals in an effort to help students and schools succeed. We work to bridge the gap in high-poverty communities between the support that students need, and what their schools are designed and resourced to provide.  With City Year, I work full-time on a team with other Corps Members and our Team Leader. Together, we provide students with academic support and after school programming focusing on the areas of attendance, behavior, and course performance.

You chose a different path after graduation…

I decided to choose a job that allowed me to make a difference and give back to my community right after college because it is something that has always been important to me and close to my heart. At a young age I learned the importance of volunteerism.  That value has remained important to me through the years. Another reason is that I personally know there will never be another time in my life when I have as few commitments as I do now. Also, I’m of the belief that if I serve now, I am increasing the odds that these types of issues will not be around when I am older.

Who is your hero and why?

This answer changes daily. There are probably a million people that I can say come to mind when asked this question, but the one that sticks out the most in mind my is my mother Cheryl.  My father passed away when I was in high school, and she really took it upon herself to ensure that we got everything we needed to succeed. She has always
challenged me to do my best and has been an intricate part in helping me to become the man I am today. I honestly don’t know where I would be without her and all that she has done for me.

Describe your most meaningful/favorite experience at NIU.

I would have to say being involved.  There were so many opportunities and experiences that I was able to take advantage of simply as a result of being involved. NIU already has a student organization for nearly everything, and if they don’t, they highly encourage you to create your own. In many ways, being involved is also where I learned and grew the most during my time at NIU. It provides a great opportunity to apply the skills that I learned in the classroom. It’s something that I believe every student should take advantage of.

What did you learn about yourself at NIU?

I learned a lot about who I am and the person that I aspire to be. I had the opportunity to experience a lot of different things: from traveling to other countries to taking a stand against social issues. Each experience has made me better in some way. I think a lot about what my life would have been like had I not attended NIU, and I can honestly say that going to NIU was one of the best decisions that I ever made.

Name three things you want to do in life:

1.  Hike the Appalachian Trail.  An alumnus and friend from NIU actually did this after graduation.  Ever since I talked to him about doing it, it has moved to the top of my bucket list. The thrill of being engulfed by nature, having time away from the world to reflect and grow as a person and building relationships with people you would otherwise have never had the opportunity to meet really resonates with me. I am actually considering doing this after my year of service with City Year is up.

2.  Paddle board in Bora Bora.  This is a recent addition to my bucket list, but I mean come on…how awesome does this sound? Plus, sleeping in an over-water bungalow sounds like an extraordinary experience.

3.  Sky dive. This is probably the most realistic item on my bucket list of the three. I think it is fair to say that I will have this one crossed off by next summer.

Tell us your “WHY?”

I’m just a young individual from Chicago trying to build my legacy and be remembered for the impact that I have on others and on the world. I view my life as a series of adventures. Some are longer and far more thrilling than others, but they all ultimately help to depict the journey. And they all are guided by a mantra that we followed as students in an NIU student group—NIU CAUSE—that I participated in with so many friends and kindred spirits. That mantra is “be unreasonable.”  Be unreasonable enough to believe that you can make a positive impact in the world. Be unreasonable enough to go after your dreams.

The Birth of The House Press – How Joe Dzwonnik is Living His Dream

Joe Dzwonnik

Editors note: I first had met Joe when I had the idea of a Beard and Mustache club here at NIU. After much consideration and other obligations, the club has taken a back seat for the moment, but regardless, Joe was one of the firsts to jump on board. From there I have always been in touch with Joe on some level, and once he launched his company here in DeKalb I knew it was a great opportunity to sit down with the young entrepreneur and pick his brain on the secrets of starting your own successful company. As you’re about to see, Joe has what it takes to get off the ground, and quickly make success. As always you can follow me on all social media @LOUIEZMICH and on Instagram @louie_zmich. From there give the NIUBusiness Instagram page a like as well! Let’s dive into Joe’s interview, enjoy!

As the title says, Joe Dzwonnik started his dream of owning his own custom clothing company on September 5th of this year right in downtown DeKalb. From there, his company really has never looked back. Starting with his roommate’s business making shirts in their basement, to then moving into The House Cafe. Joe started to make partnerships and acquaintances from all over town which really gave him an incredible advantage over others in the marketplace. Joe simply realized that there was a need for quality and good customer service in the custom clothing business and really took the opportunity head on. As we take a look at some of the questions I had for Joe, we will see just how much NIU helped him move forward professionally, and how being a Marketing graduate really helped with how he battled, and continues to avoid, challenges while overcoming them.

Everyone should take a chance to check out Joe’s incredible work on his Facebook page, and even reach out to him for anything custom printed that you need. As his motto states, he certainly delivers on quality at the best prices in town. I can say that those statements are accurate as many clubs on campus have already purchased t-shirts, banners, and sweats from Joe. I speak for everyone at CAUSE by saying the overall experience was fantastic. Now to the interview!

What was some of the history leading up to your business? How did you choose this path, and what inspired the name, “The House Press”?

This process came together through my parent’s intuition and my roommate, Jake Cronins’ own printing business. I had received mentoring from my mother who was an art and graphic design major, along with my father who was well versed in computer programming and website design. Those three really pushed me forward, and gave me the tools I needed to succeed. They really paved the road well for me. Brian, the owner of The House Cafe started to take and interest in me, as I had always come there to play shows or do stand up, and we eventually developed a professional relationship. From there, I started to become Brian’s promoter and marketing guy for bands and other shows that come in through The House Cafe. I actually put in a lot of work, and most of it was for free to really establish that I cared about his business. That ended up serving as an asset later in my career because when I brought up starting my own business, Brian offered me space in his basement in return for the marketing I had done for him in the past, and the current marketing and promoting I am doing for The House Cafe right now. The name, “The House Press” was really the least I could do when I was working underneath the Cafe. The name just made sense, and it didn’t cause people to misunderstand where I was located. My plan from here is to reintroduce The House Cafe as more of a music hub, and have The House Press be the promoter and supplier for all the gear that the bands usually provide themselves. From there we could be the provider of video editing, bookings, promotions, and live events. The first step of all that was the production of “The House Cafe Live.” It’s good to give yourself room to grow, and having future goals is something I feel will really take my business to the next level.

What made you decide to dive in head first into this business?

It really was a collection of the right opportunities at the right time to be honest. Kind of like the perfect storm if you will. I really wasn’t able to, “dip my toes in.” I had to either make the decision or not, and that really put the dog on my heels to keep running to my goals. I knew that if I just applied myself 100% that there was no way anything was going to stop me. I organized deals with a bunch of people to get the tools that I needed to push the business forward instead of going out and being in debt to others. I was able to trade my skills for the tools that I needed to run my business, it was as simple as that. With this model I was able to use the marketing knowledge that I had, to self promote the business on social media and really form connections and a clientele that knew who I was and everything that I brought to the table. I wanted to be as transparent as possible, and never let people think that the door was closed for them, everyone knew The House Press as Joe, and not some phony person.

How does someone start from ground zero like you did? How do you build a business from the ground up?

In my opinion you always have to be finishing one thing as you’re starting another. This way you’re never board of one project and the ideas are always fresh. When you start from zero, the door just gets swung wide open and you can choose how you enter. If I didn’t jump through that door, then I knew it was going to close in my face and I would be back to square one in an office, and that wasn’t something I wanted to do. I realized the opportunities I had, and I took them, simple as that. After moving on from the printing division in NIU’s design department, I knew that the thrill of being a business person was something that I had to do. I had a taste of what it was like to be an entrepreneur, and that feeling was something I could never give up. That feeling is what keeps me going, the same feeling that keeps me up until 3am then waking up at 7am to keep printing and making excellent products for people. It’s that entrepreneurial drive that you have to have to succeed. In my opinion everyone can be a business person, but you just need to find what you are good at and find ways to improve people’s lives with that skill. From there you’re not working, you’re using your passion to make people smile. That sounds so cheesy doesn’t it? But it’s true, you won’t work a day in your life if you’re just living your dream, this is my dream. The biggest piece of advice I can give here though, is to maximize your time to better yourself and your business. Your business is like a child that you created and need to tend to at all times. Everyday when you wake up, you’re continuing to bring your business to life. Anything and everything you do is making your brand, your company, and ultimately your career. Everything you say is a reflection on you, so make the best impression possible on people and you cannot fail.

What are some the challenges you have ran into with your business? How did you combat these problems?

Everything that is common in business, people already know how to do. Most of it is common sense in some regard, but the biggest issue is your mind. My biggest challenge is keeping myself in one place at one time. I have my fingers in so many pies right now and it gets overwhelming sometimes. I just have to realize I have my self on my side, and that everything that I have ever really wanted to happen had happened. I just need to keep my head in the game and keep on trucking.

What did you learn from the College of Business that you use in your business today?

Well I think that the competitiveness in the College of Business is fantastic. Competition breeds success, there’s no other way to put it. When your back is up against the wall and you’re always trying to be your best, how can that not produce successful, smart people? The college really set me up with a skill set to branch out and be anything in the business world. I never thought I would mention this one, but looking back, UBUS 310 was really something special. Every decision I make in a given day involves; marketing, management,operations and finance. No kidding, I have to think about all four of those categories every single day. It’s insane! How much will it cost me to market my new design this way. Once I market the design, how am I going to manage my time to complete this operational task? It really gave me an aspect that I literally could not get anywhere else, and I’m grateful for that, no doubt. You’re going to have five different people coming to you in different angles all the time. The class was as close to small business as you can get without having your own small business. The last thing I will touch on, because I can go on for hours, is the marketing department at NIU. Literally every resource they offer, you should take advantage of. There was so many tools that really helped me market my company today. It taught me how to carry myself, act professional, and reach as many people as possible. My time here really was the best return on any investment I have made.

Joe’s story is really something that can relate to just about everyone. I think most people, some time or another, have dreamt about owning their own business. As you saw in this interview if you have the drive to move forward, you too can be your own boss and make all the decisions someday. It’s interesting to see how much drive a person can have when they REALLY want something. Drive and determination is what gets you up in the morning, and what makes you succeed. Joe, just like many other NIU alumni, had that ambition to push forward and make their dream a reality. I thank you Joe for your time with me and I wish you the best of luck in everything that you’re doing! I look forward to seeing The House Press logo all over campus eventually. Take the time to go check Joe out on Facebook and Instagram, and support his awesome cause!

Thank you everyone and as always, don’t forget to be awesome!

Louie

Realize your Potential

Editor’s note (Michelle here):  I’m delighted to share another Life After Graduation profile from yet another wonderful and recently graduated alumnus.  In this post, you’ll catch up with 2015 business administration alumnus Robert EnRicco Ramos. Thank you, Ricco, for sharing your insights and journey so far!  I know how busy life is, so truly my gratitude to you for taking the time to share with me how life is going on the other side of your NIU Business experience! 

Quick Career Bio

I am currently a business development representative at Groupon.  My main goal is to cold call organizations to see if there is a fit for their business to be featured on the Groupon platform. Groupon is a great customer acquisition tool.  My main objective is to go through a process with merchants to gauge their costs, capacity, current customer traffic, and business goals. Once I’ve gone through this process with merchants we determine if there is a fit.  If there is a fit, I structure a campaign that will be beneficial to both the merchant and Groupon.

Describe your future-self, 10-20 years forward.

Many people look at money as a measure of success.  While money is a factor, I think my definition of success goes a little deeper.  In 20 years, I need to be able to look back on those years and know that I did everything I could to reach my full potential.  If I can look back and know that I didn’t leave anything on the table, then that to me is success.  My dream situation is to operate independently in 10 years.  I’d like to make a living through my own business and have a team under me.  Entrepreneurship runs in my family, so I have that entrepreneurial spirit.  In 10 years, I most likely will be a full time entrepreneur.

What words of wisdom would your future-self share? 

I can share some now.  Never outshine the master.  Robert Greene says this in his book “48 Laws of Power.”  In the past, I haven’t been the best at listening. This is one of the most important things to learn – the skill of listening. I listen to my mentors, family, managers, etc.  And I hope that I can build enough credibility in business so that I will be able to share words of wisdom in the future with young business minds.

What makes NIU Business uncommon? 

I saw the value in attending NIU’s College of Business when I was there.  However, I feel like I see the value even more now that I am in the business world.  What makes NIU’s College of Business great are its intense programs, like the undergraduate cross-discipline business classes UBUS 310 and UBUS 311.  These classes create a mental discipline.  UBUS 310’s valuable content and UBUS 311’s real world application both make NIU Business unique.  UBUS 310 simulates the business world because a lot of things come at you at once and at times you don’t have a lot of time to register it.  The business world is demanding and there are no “due dates.”  Due dates are “right now.”  UBUS 311 helped me build my confidence when I speak in front of people.  It also simulates real world meetings, which are constant in business.  The mentors at the college are probably the biggest thing that makes NIU’s business college uncommon.  People like Dennis Barsema – his level of achievement and success and the fact that he teaches at the college, that students can actually talk with him on a regular basis and learn from him, well that’s not something that happens at other schools.  All of the mentors and great staff at the college have taught me to be humble.  NIU’s business college builds great business minds.  It also builds strong character.

What did you learn about yourself at NIU?

Going into NIU, I actually had some doubts about whether I could pass.  I’m the first in my family to graduate from college, so at first, the idea of a university was very intimidating.  I didn’t know what to expect other than I expected the material to be challenging.  And I wasn’t sure if I was “smart enough.”  However, I learned more and more that I could do anything I put my mind to. NIU’s business school is extremely demanding and challenging, and I realized that if I can get through it, that I could put myself in the same position mentally to get through anything I want to in life. I learned going through the business program that I am indeed made for business.

Tell us your “Why?”

I’ve always been a go-getter.  Multiple things motivate me, but the main thing that motivates me is potential. I feel like I have the potential to reach a high level in business.  If I don’t give it my all, I feel like there will be a lot of potential wasted.  I also am motivated to be an entrepreneur.  I find this to be one of the aspirations that set me apart from other students at NIU.  Because I don’t have aspirations to “climb the ladder”. . . I have aspirations to actually build the ladder.

Follow your Purpose

Editor’s note (Michelle here):  I’m delighted to say that a number of recently graduated alumni are graciously sharing their journey so far with me. Thank you to each and every one!  In this post, you’ll catch up with 2015 accountancy alumnus Elyse Jares. Thank you, Elyse, for sharing your insights and journey so far!  I know how busy life is, so truly thank you again for taking the time to share where you’ve landed and what you’re doing on the other side of your NIU Business experience! 

Quick Career Bio

I graduated with NIU’s Bachelor of Science degree in accountancy in 2014 and then earned the NIU Master of Accounting Science degree in 2015. I started my job with KPMG in New York City at the end of September 2015 (approximately 3 months after graduation). KPMG is one of the Big 4 public accounting firms. I am an external auditor in the Financial Services industry.

What’s your best memory of your years as an NIU Business student?

My best memory would be pledging Delta Sigma Pi, which is a co-ed international business fraternity. I was a transfer student at the time, so it wasn’t easy meeting new people. Joining DSP helped tremendously with that. Many of the best friends I made in college came from DSP. I met a diverse group of people who are driven and motivated to succeed. They also liked to have a lot of fun. I would highly recommend joining some sort of organization. It’s a great way to meet people you might never have crossed paths with otherwise. It makes your college experience all that much better.

What is one piece of advice that has stuck with you and helped you throughout the years?

After high school, I participated in a 10-month volunteer program overseas. During the first week, one of the leaders said something along the lines of “when you love your purpose, you will succeed.” We had to fund-raise for the projects we wanted to do in the islands. Fundraising is not easy or fun at all, but I believed in what we wanted to do in the islands and that’s what kept me motivated every day. I started to apply that same philosophy in my life. If I was given a project at work that was mundane or that seemed to be of little importance, I would try to see the bigger purpose behind it. I constantly try to remind myself what my main purpose is. That’s truly what drives me.

Tell us your “WHY?”

I wouldn’t be where I am today without my two mentors. They saw something in me before I saw it in myself. They believed in me and have supported me from the moment they decided to be my mentor. That was five years ago. They have invested their time, commitment, and resources to help me succeed. They are my why. I want to be in a position where I can give back and change someone’s life just like they have done for me.

 

 

 

 

Grow from Challenges

Editor’s Note:  From time to time throughout the semester, we’re delighted to catch up with recently graduated alumni.  In this post, we’re delighted to share words about life after graduation from 2014 OM&IS alumnus Liz Peters. Thank you, Liz, for sharing your insights and journey so far!  We know how busy life is…not only in college but also at the beginning of your career.  So truly thank you again for taking the time to share where you’ve landed and what you’re doing on the other side of your NIU Business experience!

Quick Career Bio

After graduation, I began my career at AbbVie in a two year development program, rotating through three diverse divisions and job functions in AbbVie’s IT Organization. My first rotation included the implementation of a reporting tool that generates annual reports to be submitted to the government. My second rotation included the implementation of a Patient Support Program for a new drug in the Latin America (LATAM) and Japan and Asia-Pacific (JAPAC) Regions, respectively. During this rotation I was able to travel to Italy, Taiwan and Malaysia.

How do you continue to learn now that you’ve graduated?

The first year out of college was an entire year of learning for me. I’ve learned a lot about the industry and my company.  I’ve worked with different personalities and have grown my skills by listening to what others have had to say.  I try to network as much as possible to learn about others’ experiences and to help focus in on areas I would like to learn more about.  My company does a great job of offering training classes that I try to attend when my schedule allows.  I also plan to return to school soon to obtain a Master of Business Administration. (Side note: my favorite learning activity to date was an improv session I did with Second City. It was extremely eye opening…every exercise we did was applicable to the business world.)

What do you want to do with the education you received at NIU?

I hope to become a senior leader within a large organization one day.  This is a career goal that I developed in college.   NIU’s College of Business helped me to get leadership experience, whether that experience was in the classroom or in an extracurricular activity.  By having leadership experience, I was able to get my foot in the door at a company that focuses on developing young professionals.

Share something you learned about yourself at NIU.

When I started at NIU, I had no clue that I wanted a career as an IT professional.  NIU’s College of Business helped me explore different opportunities in the business world until I found the major that was right for me.  Now I love working in IT.

Tell us your “WHY?”

On a personal note, when I was 16 years old, my family environment changed.  I was forced to grow up at a young age and very quickly.  This made me realize that I am in charge of my life and only my actions affect my future.  I was able to take a negative situation and use it to fuel my desire to build a successful life for myself.  It helped me realize the kind of life I want for myself and fuels me every day to be a better person and to fight for what I want.  I feel like I saw that same type of message of overcoming adversity reinforced during my four years at NIU.  I had a chance to meet so many inspiring women — most of them NIU alumni — who have helped shape the business world to be more accepting of women in leadership positions.  If it wasn’t for women like them, I can’t imagine where I would be in my career today.  Meeting those women and hearing how they overcame significant challenges has truly inspired me to keep fighting for women in the workplace so that one day women will be viewed as equal partners.