#BulldogOnTheJob: Bri

Editor’s Note: We’re trying something new this year. We are interviewing various UMD Alumni about how their experiences at UMD have impacted their professional lives. They will also be giving their advice for being successful out there in the real world. 

Today we’re also highlighting the impact that having a disability can have on your professional life, as part of our ongoing collaboration with Disability Resources.

Name: Bri Ettestad
Majors:
 Cell & Molecular Biology BS; Biochemistry BA
Graduation Date: 
December 2015

Please describe your disability and history of it.
I suffer from both depression and anxiety/panic disorder. I had symptoms of both since childhood, but my diagnosis didn’t come until later–I was diagnosed with depression at 14 and anxiety/panic disorder shortly before I turned 17. In both cases, I, unfortunately, waited until things got bad before going to the doctor. I struggled to find an antidepressant that worked for me, but I was fortunate to find an anti-anxiety medication that also helps manage my depression without many side effects.

Organization, title, and a brief synopsis of what you do at your current place of employment.
I work for the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities as a research scientist. Since I was hired at the end of April 2016, I have been involved in many projects related to immunology and cancer biology. I am currently researching a rare type of lymphoma caused by Epstein-Barr virus, as well as, studying the killing of cancer cells by natural killer cells. I am looking for a gene that causes cancer cells to become immune to NK cell killing and testing a variety of drugs that make NK cells more efficient against sarcomas.

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Have you or do you plan to disclose your disability to your employers? What advice do you have for people in a similar situation?
I have not disclosed my disability to my employers, and I am not sure if I will do so. There is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health conditions, and I feel like most employers are not willing to recognize them as a disability. I am extremely open about my conditions with my peers. I am passionate about educating others about mental health and doing everything I can to eliminate the stigma. That being said, I think it comes down to how comfortable one is when disclosing their disability. There is no method that works universally. If you are comfortable disclosing it, by all means do so! If you are not comfortable with it, there is no shame in keeping that information to yourself. There is no requirement to disclose your disability.

Do you use any workplace accommodations related to your disability?
No. I am actually unsure as to what kind of accommodations they could really offer me. My biggest issue is when I have bad mental health days (too exhausted to get out of bed or be productive in any regard, panic attacks keeping me up all night, etc). If I am in a situation where I know my mental health will be detrimental to my productivity that day and it is possible for me to rearrange my schedule, I will take a sick day without disclosing the reason. Unfortunately, science doesn’t wait. Experiments are often on a time schedule and I have had to come in on multiple occasions when I was in no condition to work simply to make sure the experiment was completed.

What were the jobs, opportunities, and/or classes you had that led to your current role?
During my undergrad, I took many lab courses that set the stage for me working in a research setting. In addition to this, I started working as a TA for chemistry labs when I was a sophomore; I taught Introduction to Chemistry and General Chemistry I and II labs along with a discussion section for Gen Chem I. However, the most valuable thing I did was seeking out undergraduate research opportunities. For my last 3 semesters of school (and for a while after graduation), I worked in a research lab in the UMD Medical School where I studied Lyme disease. During the summer of 2015, I was accepted into a 10-week research program at Cornell where I studied neuroscience using Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies). Prior to doing undergraduate research, I was planning on going to medical school. Once I got into the lab and experienced the highs and lows of research, I changed my career path and never looked back.

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What were some of the lessons you learned while on-campus at UMD you’ve incorporated into your professional life?
Don’t be afraid to try new things. I went into college like many others who wanted to pursue a career in medicine. I was dead-set on my goal and didn’t want to deviate from it. If I hadn’t taken the step into undergraduate research, I likely would not be where I am now. The job I took here at the cancer center was full of techniques I had absolutely no experience in, and it was all very overwhelming. As a scientist, it is important to expand your knowledge of techniques so you have more options when it comes to planning experiments to answer the questions you are interested in. I had a similar experience at Cornell – I had never worked with Drosophila or done fluorescence and confocal microscopy, and I had to pick up these techniques very quickly in order to complete my project. I could’ve chosen a lab that relied on methods I was familiar with, but I am glad I didn’t. Much of my repertoire of experimental techniques came from being open to trying new things, even if it was stressful and a little bit scary.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known prior to entering your role/field?
Research can be slow, tedious, and frustrating. I learned this relatively early on, but it proves true time and time again. We run into road blocks all the time, whether it be because the experiment itself isn’t working, the cells aren’t growing right, we are unable to get the reagents we need, waiting for approval from safety committees, waiting on grant money, the cell cultures get infected, etc. The list is endless. Science is not about instant gratification in most situations. You have to be willing to stick with something no matter what. In the end, completing a project and discovering something brand new makes all the late nights, frustration, and obstacles worth it.

What career advice do you have for students wishing to enter your field? How about advice around living with a mental health condition and working full time?
This goes for anyone who is pursuing something science-related (including pre-med, pre-vet, pre-pharmacy, etc.): Do undergraduate research. Even if you are 99.99% sure you will not pursue research, it will at least be something to supplement your application to grad/med/vet/pharmacy school. It is a lot easier than you think to get involved in undergraduate research. Look for faculty on the university website, find out what they’re researching, and start sending emails! Introduce yourself and tell them you are interested in volunteering in their lab. Many faculty members are more than happy to take on an undergraduate if they have space. Read some of their papers, meet with the faculty, and learn what you can before deciding whether or not their lab is right for you. If you’re lucky, you may even manage to get on a published paper or two before you graduate.

As for living with a mental health condition and working full-time, take care of yourself. You will have bad days. The first few months of a new job are always stressful (even more so if you move to a new place for the job). Stick with it – it gets easier. When you have your bad days, there is absolutely no shame in taking a mental health day. No matter what, your health comes first. If things start getting really difficult, reach out for help and tell your employer what’s going on, even if it’s hard. Keeping them in the loop when something major happens is very important. If you came down with a serious physical illness, you would tell them what’s happening. Your mental health is no different.

Anything else you want to add about your time at UMD, or since, that greatly impacted where you are now?
It may already be apparent because I am writing this, but getting involved with Disability Resources at UMD was one of the best things I ever did during my undergrad. I thought I could manage my mental health on my own, but when it proved to be too much to handle, DR was there to give me the level playing field I needed to excel alongside my peers. I had the opportunity to speak on numerous mental health panels to help spread awareness and educate other students about mental health conditions, and I know these panels made a difference for several students who were suffering from the same conditions but didn’t know where to turn. Even though my career is as a scientist, I am still looking for ways to help spread knowledge about mental health and end the stigma surrounding these conditions.

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#BulldogOnTheJob: Karissa

Editor’s Note: We’re trying something new this year. We are interviewing various UMD Alumni about how their experiences at UMD have impacted their professional lives. They will also be giving their advice for being successful out there in the real world.

Name: Karissa Hendricks
Major: Human Resource Management
Minor: Communication
Grad Date: December 2013

Organization, title, and a brief synopsis of what you do.
I work for maurices as the HR Coordinator on the Human Resource Business Partner team. In this role, I am responsible for local networking and outreach which includes attending career fairs, coordinating job shadows and group visits, and conducting informational interviews. I am responsible for the start to finish recruiting for temps, interns, and entry-level positions, as well as the onboarding of new hires. I am also responsible for various compliance related tasks such as unemployment. My favorite part of my job is that I am always presented with new things to do and projects to work on – there is something new every day!

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Karissa recruiting for maurices at the Spring Head of the Lakes Job & Internship Fair.

What were the jobs, opportunities, and/or classes you had that led to your current role?
I originally went to UMD for Marketing, but after taking my HR Principles class I realized that HR was more in line with my interests. A later internship in HR solidified my decision to change majors. I grew up in the Twin Ports area and always wanted to work for maurices. About a month before graduation, I attended the UMD Alumni Networking Night determined to talk with a representative from maurices. Our discussion went well, and a few weeks after the event the Recruiter called me and told me about a temporary opportunity available at maurices in the Human Resources Department. I jumped at the opportunity and began working at maurices two weeks before I finished classes. Since accepting that temporary position, my job is no longer temporary and has continued to evolve.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known prior to entering your role/field?
Something I wish I would have known, and taken advantage of, is being more involved while at school. There are so many opportunities available and clubs to join. I joined the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) my junior year and had so many great opportunities to learn from professionals in Duluth, I just wish I would have done it sooner!

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What career advice do you have for students wishing to enter your field?
My advice would be to just put yourself out there. I know that it sounds cliché, but the best things really do happen when you step outside of your comfort zone. I would also add to say “yes” to every opportunity you are given – even if it is not exactly what you want to do. This will help you figure out what you like and don’t like. Plus, it will demonstrate your willingness to work hard, which will not go unnoticed!

Take advantage of the amazing resources that are available to you, especially at Career & Internship Services, which offers resume and cover letter review, interview prep, and more! These resources are free and will help you be prepared and confident when applying for jobs. The sooner you start this, the better. Also, be sure to attend career fairs and networking events and be prepared and confident when approaching employers. Even if you are not looking for a position immediately, forming relationships with employers will be to your benefit when you begin your job search.

Anything else you want to add about your time at UMD, or since, that greatly impacted where you are now?
I loved going to UMD and attending LSBE. It is a great school in a great community. I knew that I wanted to stay in Duluth and feel so lucky that I was able to do that. I think that going to school at UMD helped make that happen as I was able to form connections in the community. Through working in HR at maurices I have had several opportunities to return to campus for presentations and career fairs and I am always SO impressed by the caliber of students I talk with at UMD.

Interested in maurices? Check out their Careers page

#BulldogOnTheJob: Emily

Editor’s Note: We’re trying something new this year. We are interviewing various UMD Alumni about how their experiences at UMD have impacted their professional lives. They will also be giving their advice for being successful out there in the real world.

Name: Emily Purvis
Major: Psychology (with focus in Industrial/Organizational applications)
Grad Date: December 2013

Organization, title, and a brief synopsis of what you do
Essentia Health, Content Management Specialist. My job is a mix of content management, graphic design, web design, and communication management. I manage the HR related pages of the employee intranet as well as create documents, images, and videos relating to HR topics such as benefits, payroll, retirement, etc. I also develop internal resources to assist the HR department document their processes and streamline their work.

What were the jobs, opportunities, and/or classes you had that led to your current role?
During my undergraduate in interned in an HR office. That experience helped me be hired as a temp in Essentia’s HR office. Because of my temp role, I then was an excellent candidate for a role that opened up in their call center. While in the call center, I learned many aspects of the HR department, which in turn prepared me for my current role.

What were some of the lessons you learned while on-campus at UMD you’ve incorporated into your professional life?
GET INVOLVED! I attended numerous on-campus events and was part of multiple campus groups, some fun and some professional, but all involved getting to know new people and making connections. Networking is essential in a professional career.

ASK QUESTIONS! When you are new in the field there are things you aren’t going to know, just like in a new class. Don’t be afraid to ask how something works or why it’s done that way. Most people are happy to share their knowledge with you!

What career advice do you have for students wishing to enter your field?
Communication is rapidly evolving – having knowledge of coding is becoming more and more essential to a designer’s toolkit. Having to wait for a coder to get back to you can severely delay progress, so if you can at least learn the basics, it will go a long way.

Anything else you want to add about your time at UMD, or since, that greatly impacted where you are now?
My degree was in psychology, yet I work in more of a digital communications role that focuses on HR content. Your degree is important, but your experiences are equally important. Make sure you find experiences that match where you want to go in the future or create them within your job where possible. For example, my role in the HR Service Center at Essentia did not include creating job aid documents, but I wanted to create them for some of my processes, so I started creating them in my spare time. My supervisor noticed and liked them, so I made more. That experience directly aligned with my current role and made a huge impact during my interview because I had past work to show them.

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Interested in Essentia Health? Check out their employment page.

#BulldogOnTheJob: Scott

Editor’s Note: We’re trying something new this year. We are interviewing various UMD Alumni about how their experiences at UMD have impacted their professional lives. They will also be giving their advice for being successful out there in the real world.

Name: Scott
Major: Political Science
Minor: History
Grad Date: Class of 1975

Organization, title, and a brief synopsis of what you do
Hartel’s/DBJ Disposal Companies. My main function is commercial sales but this is a family business and that means doing whatever needs doing!

What were the jobs, opportunities, and/or classes you had that led to your current role?
I had a 35-year career in the Foodservice Distribution Business where I was a street sales person, district sales manager, director of marketing, sales trainer, and specialist. I had the great experience of being part of a team that took the company from under $20 million per year in sales to over $220 million!  Later in my career, I received an offer to get into the commercial trash and recycling field and I took it!  My experiences at UMD were instrumental in developing confidence, preparation skills, and  a vast array of people skills. From college, I began in real estate sales and then onto the Foodservice sales.

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What were some of the lessons you learned while on-campus at UMD you’ve incorporated into your professional life?
I had a rather unique experience being a Duluth native, I was a commuter for my first 3 years but got involved with athletics, work-study, and social groups which proved invaluable to my whole college life.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known prior to entering your role/field?
I don’t know that it would have been accessible. What has been continuously reinforced has been the value of integrity and solving problems instead of selling stuff.

What career advice do you have for students wishing to enter your field?
I would say consider the careers in the “less glamorous” fields, they’re interesting and can be lucrative. If you like to deal with people, most sales positions will be worth it!

Anything else you want to add about your time at UMD, or since, that greatly impacted where you are now?
Keep challenging yourself, stick your neck out, and dream big!  Give back!  My time in Rotary has been a joy and the opportunity to serve is outstanding!  Usually, the best things happen when you’re not even looking (but you have to be out there so they can find you!).

Read other #BulldogOnTheJob stories!

Interested in Hartel’s/DBJ Disposal Companies? Check out their employment page.

#BulldogOnTheJob: Jacob

Editor’s Note: We’re trying something new this year. We are interviewing various UMD Alumni about how their experiences at UMD have impacted their professional lives. They will also be giving their advice for being successful out there in the real world.

Name: Jacob Froelich
Majors: Organizational Management BBA & Theater BA
Minor: Marketing
Grad Date: May 2015

Organization, title, and a brief synopsis of what you do
As of July 5, 2016, I work for City Girl Coffee Co. (a division of Alakef Coffee Roasters.) I am our Brand Development Coordinator based in the Twin Cities. Brand Development at City Girl means a lot of different things depending on the day, but generally it involves building our brand and presence in the Twin Cities through various different methods. This summer I was tasked with creating and running a Demo program, to make it easier for customers to sample our coffee before buying. I took on the responsibility of recruiting, hiring, and training brand ambassadors on our story and how to interact with customers in a grocery store setting. It was super fun! That is still my main responsibility heading into the busy holiday season, however side projects for me included conducting market research on new markets for City Girl as well as getting trained in on our sales techniques and process. More to come in the future I’m sure!

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What were the jobs, opportunities, and/or classes you had that led to your current role? 
While it’s hard to pick any one single experience that let me to my current position, the most direct connection with my current job would have been my internship experience I completed I completed during my Junior year at UMD. My business major and marketing minor made me a perfect fit for a Social Media Marketing internship and my time spent networking with the folks in the Career and Internship Services office was well spent when I was approached about interviewing for the position by Mary Gallet who worked in the Career and Internship Services office at the time. Mary arranged my interview and the rest is history. I interned for the company I work for now, specifically my internship was created and I reported to my current boss. While the company didn’t immediately have an opening for me when I graduated, I was approached about joining the team full-time this past spring and jumped on board without hardly any hesitation. The experiences that led me to the internship in the first place were varied. I would say it helped that I had previously visited Career and Internship Services quite a bit, had my resume up to date, and was actively seeking out an opportunity like the one I found. I believe my Marketing minor helped to demonstrate knowledge in the area the company was looking to bring someone in and I believe my Theater major helped with being personable and communicative during my interview. At the end of the day though, it wasn’t just me, job hunting really is a community effort. I’m glad I had people willing to help me. I would recommend to anyone looking for their next opportunity in a job, or otherwise, that a great first place to start, would be reaching out to your network and seeing what’s already sitting there just waiting for you.

What were some of the lessons you learned while on-campus at UMD you’ve incorporated into your professional life?
Don’t be afraid of failure. It seems that many people get caught up (and quite worried) about having everything right the first time around. I’ve found it’s much more productive to direct your energy into a choice you make and go with, rather than wasting time worrying and not making a decision. As David J. Schwartz, author of the Magic of Thinking Big once said “Action cures fear.” Take a step in the direction you want to go, even if you’re scared or nervous, take the first step scared or nervous.

As many people will readily recognize it’s not always what you know, but who you know. Smarts and experience are ultimately very important, but it’s always a good idea to take action to expand your personal and professional network whenever possible. Joining clubs and organizations and going to those sponsored lectures and lunches is actually super beneficial! You never know who you will meet and where, keep a resume on hand, or at least be willing to talk about your skills and interests at any time with a potential employer. I’d recommend taking the Myers-Briggs and StrengthsQuest career assessments, if you haven’t already, to be more in touch with your skills and interests.

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What do you know now that you wish you’d known prior to entering your role/field?
Hmmm. It’s probably something I was told 50 times while in college but it seems some things you just have to go out and learn the hard way. That being, make sure to find something you actually care about. I started out of college at a technology company that by all means had the makings of a perfect career starter for young people. Great culture, good(ish) pay, and a fun team of people to work with. It checked a lot of boxes on my list and so without really investigating my other options, I jumped at the opportunity. 6 months in, and while I enjoyed going to work with my friends every day, it wasn’t enough to quench my thirst for something more meaningful to me. I feel lucky to have come into the opportunity I have at City Girl now, but definitely take your time job hunting. It will take time!!!! Start early, and make sure the places your interview at, reflect your true passions, or at least provide a path to them.

What career advice do you have for students wishing to enter your field?
Know thyself. While in college, try as many different things as you can! Find out what you love, find out what you don’t and look for those things in your future career. And if after college you feel just as lost as when you entered, know that it’s okay. Start somewhere, just go for it, life is not a race and don’t compare yourself to those around you. Compare yourself only to your previous self and take pride in your accomplishments. Love yourself, because that energy is contagious. Read the book You are a Badass by Jen Sincero if you don’t know how. And ask for help when you need it. It’s not a race and you’re not alone.

Anything else you want to add about your time at UMD, or since, that greatly impacted where you are now?
It’s good to say yes, and it’s good to say no. If you come to an opportunity at least be open minded enough to investigate it. Jobs and careers can come from the least likely of places. And if you have an idea for a business or lifestyle, TRY IT while still in college. It’s the easiest time to try and fail and try and fail and try and fail and try again.

Read other #BulldogOnTheJob stories!

Interested in City Girl Coffee? Check out their employment page.

Photo sources: Jacob & Unsplash|Drew Coffman

#BulldogOnTheJob: Sarah

Editor’s Note: We’re trying something new this year. We are interviewing various UMD Alumni about how their experiences at UMD have impacted their professional lives. They will also be giving their advice for being successful out there in the real world.

Name: Sarah Novack
Major: Statistics and Actuarial Science
Minor: Economics
Grad Date: December 2014

Organization, Title, and brief Synopsis
I am a Peace Corps Volunteer. There are five branches of Peace Corps: Education, Health, Agriculture, Business Development, and Youth Development. We train for three months before being placed at a permanent site, where we will serve for two years. My primary assignment is Secondary Education for Math and Science. I am currently serving in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Zanizbar is a gorgeous island full of tropical beaches and spice farms. I teach math at the local secondary school. Along with my primary assignment, I have two secondary projects that occupy my time. I have an After School STEM CLUB (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). We have done many simple science projects to explain centripetal force, air pressure, and chemical reactions. Secondly, I teach a Community English Class. The high tourism rate makes English Speakers in high demand.

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Opportunities and classes that led to this role.
Two influences from UMD helped me choose Peace Corps after Graduation. My sophomore year I took a class called Cultural Diversity. This class opened my eyes to different types of diversity not only throughout the United States, but also throughout the world. Our professor was born and raised in Kenya (neighbor to Tanzania). He gave us a unique perspective, which I have carried with me to Tanzania. He taught us that diversity is more than the color of your skin. It is your religion, gender identity, and socioeconomic class. When I wasn’t in studying, I spent a lot of my time volunteering. I was a tutor at the Harbor City International School, a Volunteer Admissions Tour Guide, and a Rockstar! My UMD experience as a whole and my desire to travel the world influenced my decision to join Peace Corps.

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What do you wish you would have known before entering your role?
I wish I would have known that, just because there is a Job Title associated with your major, doesn’t mean you have to go into that profession. For many years, I wanted to be an Actuary. I was finishing up my degree in Actuarial Science, when I realized, that was the last thing I wanted to be. There are many things you can do with a college degree; you just have to find what you are passionate about. I started looking into other career options, and with the help of Career & Internship Services and a childhood dream, I decided to join the Peace Corps. People join Peace Corps for many reasons, and for me it has opened the door into international development.

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Career Advice for people wishing to enter your field.
Every Peace Corps experience is unique. I would recommend anyone looking into Peace Corps to talk to a wide variety of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. Peace Corps will give you a ground view into a new world. I never would have thought I would wake up everyday and put on a hijab, but Peace Corps has given me this opportunity. Peace Corps Volunteers love talking about their experience. We love talking about cooking over our charcoal stoves, fetching water from a well, stumbling through our new language, and convincing the village you probably won’t be marring a local so you can stay. If you enjoy volunteering and working abroad, there is a place for you in Peace Corps!

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You can follow along with Sarah’s Peace Corps adventure on her Blog and Facebook Page.

Read other #BulldogOnTheJob stories!

Photo Source: Sarah

#BulldogOnTheJob: Jennie

Editor’s Note: We’re trying something new this year. We are interviewing various UMD Alumni about how their experiences at UMD have impacted their professional lives. They will also be giving their advice for being successful out there in the real world.

Name: Jennie Lennick
Major: BFA in Studio Art with Drawing, Painting, and Printmaking Emphasis
Minors: Photography and Art History
Grad Date: 2009

Organization: Jenny Lemons
Title: Owner, Designer, and Maker
Brief synopsis of what you do: I design and sew hand made, block printed, and hand painted women’s clothing and home goods that feature repetitive food motifs. All of my products are made from natural and organic fabrics. I sell my goods online, in stores, and at craft fairs. I also teach fiber art workshops all over the Bay Area [San Francisco, CA].

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What were the jobs, opportunities, and/or classes you had that led to your current role?
When I was at UMD, I took a costume construction course through the Theatre department that really honed in my sewing skills. All of my print and painting classes taught me necessary techniques to make high quality images.

My teachers in the fine art department at UMD helped prepare me for graduate school at the San Francisco Art Institute. While at SFA, I was a teacher’s assistant for traditional and fiber-based sculpture classes. I graduated with a master’s degree in painting in 2012. Immediately upon graduation, I accepted a two and a half year residency at Root Division, a non-profit arts education institution which provides a subsidized studio in exchange for teaching art classes to adults and children.

All the while, I continued to show my artwork in galleries in San Francisco and Portland. During one art show I made a women’s top as an art piece and I got such positive feedback that I decided to make a small collection of women’s clothing. I showed my collection under the name Jenny Lemons at Renegade Craft Fair in 2015 and had great success.

In January this year, I took an intensive business-planning course through Renaissance Center for Entrepreneurship in San Francisco to develop Jenny Lemons further. The course helped me write a business plan and figure out my finances. Since then my business has been growing exponentially!

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What were some of the lessons you learned while on-campus at UMD you’ve incorporated into your professional life?
When I was at UMD, I worked at KUMD as the music director for college radio and was active in the Art Guild. These two organizations taught me leadership roles and how to work as a team. I also learned the importance of community, networking, and being friendly. People want to work with nice, thoughtful people!

What do you know now that you wish you’d known prior to entering your role/field?
I see myself as a seamstress and an artist, not a fashion designer. I wish I took a few fashion design or business classes in college to speed up my learning curve. My network helps fill in the gap in my industry knowledge.

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What career advice do you have for students wishing to enter your field?
Figure out what your vision is and what makes it different than anyone else. If you don’t understand something about your field, take a course or find someone who can help you! Your networks and colleagues will help. Get an internship at a business similar to the one you want to work at.

Anything else you want to add about your time at UMD, or since, that greatly impacted where you are now?
I loved UMD! While I was there, I took advantage of every opportunity I could.

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Photo Source: Jennie Lennick