Samantha McGrath on laying her path to a successful career through networking and tenacity

Food and consumer package goods marketing student Samantha McGrath is highly motivated and driven. If you ask her to describe herself in three words, she will tell you she is optimistic, ambitious and conscientious. These traits, along with her networking skills, have allowed her to fill her college career to the brim with experiences, internships and opportunities. McGrath has been a part of the Haworth College of Business Trailblazers program for the past two years, serves as a student ambassador for the Haworth College of Business and is the president of the Student Leadership Advisory Board. She has a long list of accomplishments and strives to continue to add more each year.  

The most exciting experience of McGrath’s college career

I currently serve as the president of the Student Leadership Advisory Board where I have the opportunity to use and develop my leadership skills. I am overseeing a project that helps more than 20 organizations connect with Western Michigan University staff and students in order for them to gain knowledge of how to succeed in various business arenas. I am also enjoying the opportunity to lead incoming students in my role as student ambassador at the Haworth College of Business.

Learning an essential skill for business pioneers

One of the most important things I have learned while at the Haworth College of Business is how to professionally network. I would like to become a business pioneer, developing constructive collaborations with innovators and entrepreneurs. Being able to attend the business etiquette dinners, career fairs and the Food Marketing Conference has equipped me with the knowledge and skills to conduct myself in a professional manner.

Getting involved on campus has been incredibly rewarding for me, and I recommend that everyone explore the things they love and participate in activities that may be out of their comfort zone. The best way to grow academically and personally during college is to engage in campus life and all that Western Michigan University has to offer.

One of many reasons to choose Western Michigan University

The Haworth College of Business became a clear choice for me after touring Western Michigan University as a high school senior. The business externship program sparked my interest and aligned with how I wanted to pursue my career goals. I was accepted into the program and matched with E & J Gallo Winery to attend their externship in Detroit.

Gaining experience and learning to navigate the business world

During my externship, I learned how to effectively communicate with employers and peers, as well as appreciate the role of corporate culture. This experience led to my internship for summer 2018 in Chicago with E & J Gallo Winery.

In building my professional network and finding ways to continue to grow, I have filled each of my summers with internships. One summer, I worked as a marketing intern for Busch’s Fresh Food Market. As a food marketing major, I was drawn to this internship by the opportunity to see the inner workings of a grocery store marketing department. During this internship, I worked with the graphic design team for J.B.’s Smokehouse to coordinate, proof and submit the weekly ad and promotions.

I also served as an organizational assessment intern for AlixPartners, an international consulting firm that is best known for its work in corporate turnaround and restructuring. I was drawn to their fast and effective methodology that identifies the issues that impact a company’s performance. During my internship, I maintained assessment data and reports and scheduled assessment feedback meetings.

Setting goals

I aim to work in a challenging, cutting-edge environment where I can enhance my knowledge of the food industry and set precedents in a highly competitive marketplace. Ultimately, I hope to be a successful trendsetter as a corporate brand strategist in the global arena. In the meantime, I will continue to get involved with as many professional growth and networking opportunities as I can. I plan to explore new perspectives through a study abroad trip to Thailand and participate in food industry events in order to gain a better understanding of trends and corporate culture. 

McGrath was recently featured on the Raise the W podcast where she discusses more about her experience as a student. Listen to McGrath's episode.