Going the distance—it’s something that Luis Durán has done both metaphorically and literally as an international student, working toward the best possible opportunities at each stage of his education.
Majoring in food and consumer package goods marketing, his interest in the field was sparked by an internship he held with a CPG company in the Dominican Republic. “When I was reviewing the options I had for completing my major internationally, I saw the courses I would be taking as part of the WMU food marketing program,” he says.
“From my internship experience, I knew that the classes were extremely relevant to the food marketing industry. I made my decision because the degree is highly specialized and a good mix between analytics, supply chain and category management—all of which are crucial. Once I continued my research and learned that it was one of the best programs in the U.S., led by professors who have succeeded in the industry for many years, I knew I could not let go of this opportunity.”
Durán is happy with his decision to attend WMU. “The Haworth College of Business prepares you very well. I feel like I have received all the tools I need to build my future; it is just up to you to decide whether to take those opportunities or not. You are given the chance to do mock interviews in order to practice for real ones, use the services of the Zhang Career Center, join professional student organizations for every major, and learn from professors with vast amounts of real-life experience who give you really helpful feedback.”
Being seen as an individual is part of what makes the WMU experience beneficial for Durán. “You mean something here. Your professors care about seeing you succeed. If you take advantage of the opportunities presented, you learn how to be a professional, how to build business relationships, and how to become marketable to employers. Everyone gets a chance and can have a unique experience.”
One of the people who has seen Durán and met him with valuable feedback all along the way is Dr. Frank Gambino. “Dr. G has been the director of the food marketing program for many years and recently announced his retirement. I had him for my courses in Retail Merchandising and Category Management. He has been an industry leader for many years, but more than that, he’s like a parental figure for all of us. Since the first day I got here, he has given me tips and extensive feedback in terms of my work. I’m very thankful for all he has done for me throughout the program.”
The opportunities that Durán has had—everything from extensive industry projects in category management to networking nights with potential employers—have prepared him for the next step. His short-term plans are to get an internship working for a CPG company here in the U.S., after which he plans to return to the Dominican Republic to work full-time and pursue a graduate degree in supply chain management to become a “more well-rounded” professional. He hopes to spend another stint in the U.S., working at a company, in the future as well.