Internship proves fruitful for business student

Contact: Erin Flynn

Erika Hejl is excited to start her career at Smucker

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—With an education from Western Michigan University, she has to be good. That's what Smucker's decided after getting a taste of Erika Hejl's talent. She signed a contract with the company a full year before graduation after completing an internship in the summer of 2018. She'll become a full-time category analyst in May.

"The experience last summer was really eye-opening to me. I didn't realize how in depth the program at WMU was and all the opportunities we have here when I started my internship," says Hejl, a food and consumer package goods marketing major from Bear Lake, Michigan. "We have a lot of hands-on experiences that you don't get in a lot of other colleges."

According to a survey of recent graduates, 92% of Haworth College of Business students earning undergraduate degrees said their education and experience at WMU prepared them for their profession and 98% of food and consumer packaged goods marketing degree recipients were employed.

"The opportunities that our major offers are unlike any other program I have heard about. We have the industry tour which allows students to visit more than 30 companies over the summer to network and explore company culture. We also have access to the WMU Food Marketing Conference which connects students with hundreds of industry professionals each year."

WMU business students also have the opportunity to take part in an externship program, which matches them with mentors in the industry—many of whom are alumni—to explore careers they're interested in.

While opportunities abound for students outside the classroom, the experience they gain in the classroom is just as important.

"You really get to see what the culture of different companies are like, what they do on a day to day basis," Hejl says. "I visited Stryker, Haworth, S.C. Johnson and Meijer during my externship experience, so I got a broad sense of what you could do with a business degree and what I ultimately wanted to do after graduation."

"Our classes are taught in case studies presented by employers. This gives us hands-on experience learning about real industry issues, ensuring we are prepared to enter our careers."

Hejl, an honors student, found the relationships she built with professors to be especially helpful.

"The professors in my program go above and beyond. They have had a large impact on my success at WMU. They take the time to get to know you as a person, set up company mixer events and give useful feedback on projects. I am very thankful to have professors that are this invested in the success of their students."

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