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"Be curious, involved, and have a growth mindset. Being genuinely curious means asking better questions and being intentional in understanding and making connections on information, data and trends. Being involved applies to many arenas: building relationships with other students, participating and being leaders in clubs, taking advantage of lecture opportunities, being active in the community and networking, both personally and professionally. Having a growth mindset means having a never-ending willingness and desire to learn, both in school and after school. Don’t think that graduation is the end of your learning.”
Recent grads Madeline Mill and Brittany Donahue have a lot in common: double degrees, an alma mater, their current employer, and a drive for excellence.
Finding a job, taking advantage of opportunities, building a career path … it may not be top of the mind for newly minted university students exploring all possibilities within the College of Business. However, one of the core messages our students hear from us is – take advantage of opportunities outside the classroom.
Some of our most successful graduates have followed this formula and achieved terrific results. Case in point, two Class of 2014 graduates with dual majors in Business Information Systems and Accounting are now colleagues at one of the Big Four accounting and consulting firm, Deloitte, at their Portland office.
The common threads in their stories – involvement in student clubs, building work experience with internships and jobs, and working closely with their professors – weave together to form the skill set that top-tier employer’s value.
Madeline Mill graduated with honors in 2014 and is now a senior consultant with Deloitte. In a typical day, Mill works with clients in energy and resources, and consumer and industrial products industries. Mill, in describing her path to Deloitte, sums it up rather modestly as “basically, getting lucky.” However, the high-school valedictorian says she’s long held the mindset to just go ahead and go for every opportunity that was out there.
Mill collected great work experience before college including an internship in the finance department at Leatherman Tools. However, it was Mill’s involvement in SIM Club – the Students of Information Management Club at Oregon State – that brought her the opportunity she needed. A representative from Deloitte came to a late spring-term meeting to speak to the group, and mentioned that they had an opportunity to join the firm.
“I decided to go for it. I wouldn’t be at Deloitte if I hadn’t shown up to SIM Club the night they announced an opening,” Mill said. Mill, who would later become the president of the SIM Club at Oregon State, spent much of her time recruiting students to join the club and get involved.
“Half of it is showing up to extracurricular activities, lectures outside of class, office hours, and taking any of the opportunities you get exposed to. I think a lot of people get hung up on their grades, but it’s really not about your grades. It’s about what you learn from those classes and experiences and how you apply them. Recruiters use grades as a baseline, but they want to see what you’ve done with that learning. That question can usually be answered by describing how you’ve shown up and how you engage in the amazing programs we have available outside of class,” Mill said.
Like Mill, Brittany Donahue is also a senior consultant at Deloitte, and Class of 2014 cum laude graduate with a dual degree in Business Information Systems and Accounting.
Donahue and Mill were both part of the Dean’s Student Leadership Council; both were teaching assistants during their undergraduate years, gaining project experience under the guidance of the professors that mirrored the real-world job requirements.
“Students should really take advantage of the inclusive and collaborative nature within the College of Business, both between students as well as between students and faculty. It’s a great practice for a career after college, where inclusion and collaboration are widely celebrated and essential to succeed,” Donahue said.
Donahue’s club involvement included acting as treasurer of her sorority and treasurer of the Oregon State Robotics Club. Donahue also volunteered at the Corvallis City Hall business office while a student and continued her active involvement after college serving as the deputy treasurer for the Willamette Valley chapter of ISACA (previously known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, but now using only the acronym).
She began pursuing the internship opportunities posted by Deloitte, along with the other Big Four firms, during her junior year. Inspired by her mother, who is a CPA, Brittany had a clear picture of what this career path offered. She interviewed with multiple Big Four, regional, and local firms. Donahue found that she was immediately fond of Deloitte during her first interaction with audit personnel at the college’s annual Meet the Firms event.
“The people at Deloitte stood out to me among all other firms as particularly intelligent and genuine. I was offered an internship position in Advisory after visiting the Deloitte office, and upon completion of the internship I was offered a full time opportunity,” Donahue said of her job supporting risk-based IT testing related to external financial audits.
“I would encourage undergraduates to attend the informational sessions, meet-and-greets, and any other opportunities to meet professionals as early as possible,” Donahue said, emphasizing that these networking and recruiting events are a great way to find the right fit.
The College of Business’ commitment to create a symbiotic relationship for industry partners like Deloitte involves its career center and advising teams as well as the industry advisory council associated with each academic program.
For example, the Business Information Systems students have the opportunity to present their independent projects to the program’s industry advisory board. Elizabeth Maust, a Managing Director at Deloitte and chair of the Business Information Systems industry advisory council said she looks forward to seeing students presenting the results of their hard work to the advisory council each year.
“The independent projects and presentations BIS students do each year as extended learning through the SIM club provides for great opportunity and experience to tackle a challenge or strategic issue while applying the concepts they study,” Maust said.
Maust describes the Business Information Systems program as rigorous, and her firm sees value in the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification component approved by ISACA. “This helps students to prepare for the unique role of IT auditor and to be ready for the examination process that is required for certification,” Maust said.
She also highlights other values to help students be career ready. “My advice to students to is to be curious, involved, and have a growth mindset. Being genuinely curious means asking better questions and being intentional in understanding and making connections on information, data and trends. Being involved applies to many arenas: building relationships with other students, participating and being leaders in clubs, taking advantage of lecture opportunities, being active in the community and networking, both personally and professionally. Having a growth mindset means having a never-ending willingness and desire to learn, both in school and after school. Don’t think that graduation is the end of your learning.”