Christina Koepke is a senior at the University of Toledo. She's triple majoring in Human Resource Management, Supply Chain Management, and Marketing. She is scheduled to graduate this December. Here's what she had to tell us about her experience at Toledo.
What has your experience in the program been like at the University of Toledo? Were there other schools you were considering, and if so, why did you choose this one?
I’ve had a great experience at the University of Toledo. The professors and staff at UT have gone over the top to help me excel. The connections I have made through my time at UT, thus far, have really helped me in my professional development, and I have had a lot of great opportunities. I thought about a few other schools but chose UT because I wanted to stay close to home; I commute to school. Also, the scholarship offer I received for UT was one that I could not turn down.
What influenced you to pursue a major/career in management?
I decided to triple major, two of which are in management, for a few reasons. As a student in the College of Business and Innovation, a common theme that I took away again and again from my classes is that any business is not about the individual functional areas working alone. Rather it is about everyone coming together and working together. It is all about creating synergy and unity. Therefore, I want to help a company form the necessary synergistic relationships throughout its entire supply chain. Further, I learned that when you are in Human Resources, you are a business person first. Thus, no matter what field I enter, I will be cross-functional and make better decisions as I understand the, often conflicting, perspectives of personnel in different functional areas.
Have you participated in any internships? If so, how many, how were they, and did you find the schools resources to be helpful in helping you find this opportunity?
Yes, I participated in two internships. My first internship was with Sunforest Transportation Insurance Company (STIG), which is a wholesale trucking insurance agency. This was a great opportunity for me. I worked there for over a year and loved it as I really got to experience the close-knit culture of a small company. Also, I helped in different areas and really was able to see how every person’s job played an important piece in fulfilling the mission and meeting the company’s goals. The next internship I participated in was an HR Internship for The Andersons’ Rail Group. I just started this internship at the beginning of the semester, and so far, it has been great. I experienced a little bit of a cultural shock at first because I came from working at a company with 8 FTEs to a multi-billion dollar corporation. It is a lot different than what I was used to. Nonetheless, both opportunities have been really neat, and I am glad that I was able to experience working for a small company as well as a very large company.
It is important to mention that both of these opportunities would not have been possible without the resources I was provided from The University of Toledo. My first internship at STIG was actually offered to me after I won the Toledo Trucking Association Scholarship, which I applied for through the university. The connections I made through this scholarship opportunity are how I received my first internship. My second internship I received because of one of my professors at UT. My professor contacted me saying there was an opportunity at The Andersons in HR and recommended that I applied. Thus, my professor helped me with this opportunity. In addition, I have had many other opportunities, which I did not accept, as a result of the resources at UT. For example, there are mock-interview days, which I was offered an internship afterwards, College of Business and Innovation exclusive job fairs, online resources, etiquette dinners, and many other resources available through the Business Career Programs. Like I mentioned, the faculty and staff really go above and beyond at UT to help get students jobs and help them develop professionally. Our associate dean even sends students job postings on a weekly basis.
What are your future career plans and aspirations?
I plan to secure a Supply Chain Management, Human Resource Management, or Marketing position with a company and be able to take on more responsibility and grow professionally as the company grows. Also, I understand the importance of different departments working together so the company can operate as a whole. Therefore, I intend to use my triple major to help lead a company to success because I will be a cross-trained employee who can present perspectives from the different departments within the business. My goal is to help increase cross-functional collaboration to eliminate departmental as well as cross-channel conflicts. Overall, I plan on using my knowledge and strong work ethic to become an asset to a company's team and help the company form the necessary synergistic relationships throughout its entire supply chain.
What has been the most challenging aspect of this area of study, and was this something you had originally anticipated?
Personally, the most challenging aspect of this area of study was forcing myself to network. At first, I did not realize how important networking is. I have learned that a lot of opportunities are about who you know. Also, I read a book once by Dale Carnegie and learned something I will never forget. The quote was along the lines of, “no one accomplishes something great by staying within their comfort zone.” Therefore, I have taken this to heart and try to step outside my comfort zone.
What advice would you give someone else trying to break into this field?
Always take advantage of each opportunity that crosses your path- you never know what may come out of it. Also, trust in God’s plan and know that everything will work out. There is nothing to be afraid of so just try! Additionally, it is important to always keep learning and staying current in the field. There are emerging trends that you should pay attention to. I have learned the importance of reading the Wall Street Journal.
Is there anything you wish you had known about this major ahead of time before choosing this career path or anything else you would like to share?
The curriculum at UT has you take many business classes before starting your major classes. This allows you to study each functional area before choosing one. However, I was not able to learn much about Supply Chain in my first year of college, and this is the field I was originally interested in. Therefore, I would recommend that students get involved in professional organizations, such as APICS for Supply Chain/Operations Management, or SHRM for HR.
Also, I was in the honors program at UT, and it is something I would recommend to everyone. There are so many resources through the honors program, such as being able to register for classes early and small classes. I also got to perform a primary research study with a faculty mentor.
Overall, there have been so many positive aspects from being a student at UT, and I would recommend prospective students to consider UT for developing their future!