Professional Identity

9 confident looking students in professional dress in a row in the Schneider Hall.

These nine students speak about growth and development during the college years.

I am a challenger

Forest Drummer, Senior
Program: Finance

“My professional journey during my college experience started with my first trip to the Zhang Career Center for a resume critique and practice interview. Through that experience, I identified the strengths and weaknesses in my materials and interviewing skills. I realized my professionalism still needed work and joined the national co-ed business fraternity, Phi Chi Theta. Through Phi Chi Theta, I enhanced my ability to tell my professional story, which resulted in earning internships with Stryker and Plante Moran. The network of resources from Phi Chi Theta and the career center to fellow business students and professors has been amazing. My experiences in executive board positions in student organizations have paid pivotal dividends to my overall professional growth as well. I have found greater interpersonal confidence and come out of my shell throughout my college years.”

Collaboration and competition

“At a company, I seek a welcoming environment that encourages collaboration and friendly competition. A positive atmosphere fosters collaboration and new ideas. Competition helps me tap into my full potential, pushing me to get better every day.”

I am an adaptEr

Rachel Larson, Senior

Programs: Computer Information Systems and Integrated Supply Management

"By changing my field of study from music education to business, I became the sole decision maker for my future, as I pivoted from an area where I had over a decade of experience to something new and unexplored. I value the unknown rather than the predictable, which is why I chose fields of study with endless new opportunities and challenges. I have formed my professional identity by surrounding myself with successful people. I try to understand how they achieve their goals. Relying on my network as a sounding board, I use trial and error to find the best process for me to achieve victories. Creating a network of strong, successful professionals has allowed me to discover my outlook on how I can be a successful student, professional and human being.”

Final destination

“Because I am goal-oriented, I begin with the end in mind, so understanding the possible advancement opportunities at a company is imperative. I like to see what I would need to achieve and the pathways a company has for professional development and advancement.”

I am a driver

Joy Goldschmidt, Junior
Program: Integrated Supply Management

“The Student Professional Readiness Series has encouraged me to attend career and professional development events, which have improved my soft skills. I joined APICS and participated in their mentorship program and the communications committee. My mentor, Rachel Larson, not only helped me with business-related questions, but also supported me in obtaining my first internship last summer, which provided me with real-world experience and purchasing exposure. I made it a priority to get involved during college and have gained skills from everything from the club tennis travel team, to Alpha Lambda Delta, to Bronco Force. My semester-long study abroad program in Australia was one of my best overall growth experiences.”

My ideal company

“I want to work for a company that supports bottom-up change. A culture that recognizes the value of creating an open-minded and tolerant environment is my best fit. I value innovation and a driven, team-oriented culture that is constantly looking for new ways to improve. Social responsibility and sustainability are also important to me, as well as transparency and integrity.”

I am a learner

Scott Moldenhauer, Senior
Program: Management

“I can now easily give a professional presentation. Through my classes, I have developed my public speaking ability, which is an essential skill every business professional needs. I am the happiest and most at peace that I have ever been in my life. The most valuable lesson I have learned in college is that becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable is the secret to happiness. I have learned to apply myself with my best effort and then let stress go. Life is about being in the present moment and enjoying it. I have also shifted my view on leadership, realizing a leader doesn’t have to be the loudest or most cheered person on a team—there is a difference between leaders and those who want to be heroes. My three years as captain on the hockey team has taught me to be a leader who puts the needs of team members first.”

My future employer

“I am seeking an employee-empowered culture—an empowered workforce is an engaged workforce.”

I am a problem solver

Cheri Anderson, Senior
Program: Personal Financial Planning

“My college career has helped me embrace new challenges. Sometimes challenges can be stressful, risky and confusing but how you handle a stressful situation will determine the outcome. Two things that have helped me in my learning are classmates and reading. Classmates have taught me the importance of teamwork and supporting others in a professional environment. Reading has helped me grow professionally. Through reading, you can gain new knowledge at any time; articles and textbooks have helped me to be more resourceful. College helped me develop accountability for reaching deadlines and goals. I have developed a selling attitude along with the ability to listen to and understand people from diverse groups.”

Workplace values

“I hope my future place of employment will value communication. Communication leads to an environment where people ask questions and express their thoughts. I find that people are more productive if a company shows concern for their employees’ mental and physical health. Performance focus is also extremely important to me because I want to understand what is determining my success and rise to meet challenges.”

I am a leader

Daniel Lopez, Senior
Programs: Accountancy and Finance

“My leadership style is a mixture of servant leadership and democratic leadership. This leads to greater diversity and innovation. The purpose of leadership is to influence others to achieve a common goal. As a leader, your goal should be to empower and develop others to become leaders themselves. Encouraging others to provide input ultimately delivers the best solution. For me personally in leading the Intercultural Business Student Association, I focus on what I can do to best serve our ambassadors and make sure they receive the support and resources they need.”

Culture is key

“I am looking for a company that has both a great business-centered culture and a healthy general workplace culture. To me, culture is by far one of the most important factors when looking for employment. I want to be part of a company that is continuously looking to innovate, values diversity and has a workplace where you can bring your authentic self. A workplace where employees have input and that engages with the community is attractive to me.”

I am a hard worker

Marissa Bruno, Senior
Program: Sales and Business Marketing

“I was a very average student in high school, and when I got to college, I wanted to change. The student organizations that I have been a part of have helped me grow professionally. I was invited to join Alpha Lambda Delta after my first semester. That group helped me form goals and motivated me to do even better academically. Now, I am actively contributing to four student organizations. I have been able to travel, gain leadership skills, and learn what it takes to achieve goals; I am now a true believer in the concept that you can do anything if you put in enough hard work. I have fallen in love with my major, and my program has helped me learn what it means to be confident, not only in my beliefs and ideas, but also in myself.”

Feels like family

“I am looking for a company culture that feels like family and will support me even through my failures. I want to feel like I am valued and can learn and grow at a company.”

I am a professional

Austin Currie, Senior
Program: Marketing

“Transferring to WMU during my junior year was a big challenge. I only knew a few people in Kalamazoo, so I had to become involved in order to meet new people. I became a part of the Tau Sigma Honors Society and a member of the American Marketing Association. These organizations have given me the confidence to be social in unfamiliar circumstances. I have always felt that my professors and fellow students wanted me to succeed and were willing to help me reach my goals. It is amazing what I have been able to accomplish knowing that I have the University supporting me.”

It’s not a popularity contest

“As a leader, I take everyone’s thoughts and opinions into consideration before making a decision. However, part of being a leader is sometimes making the unpopular decision and sticking with it.”

I landed a job

“I accepted a position with DTE Energy Trading. I interned at the company, which allowed me to experience the corporate culture. The culture played no small role in my decision to accept the offer. High ethical standards and community engagement factored heavily into my decision.”

I am an explorer

Shreya Naseri, Graduate Student
Program: Master of Business Administration

“There are certain domains which I used to think were beyond my capabilities, but since I came to WMU, I have taken on and succeeded in many things that I used to think were not possible for me. The environment of Western helped me take risks and learn new things. I appreciate the constant support of the faculty members who strive hard to help everyone understand. I am all about overcoming challenges, being curious and gaining knowledge of new things.”

On my own

“As an international student, leaving my family was the toughest thing I have ever done. I had no idea how I would manage my studies, my work, and my household, but here I am, doing everything single-handedly. It is good to feel so strong. I am not sure when I will see my family again, but the love and support I get from them and the people at Western is what keeps me going.”

A positive force

“Positivity is something that I give a lot of significance to at a company. Only a positive attitude can move us forward.”

Video of 2018 Haworth College of Business Magazine: Professional Identity