Another article written for the College of Business alumni magazine, Prospectus. Online version can be found here.
Senior in supply chain management, Olivia Reicks, can recall the moment when her professional life took a leap forward.
“I was sitting in an orientation class when a senior walked in,” Reicks said. “It was exciting to hear another student’s firsthand perspective on college and what he did to be successful.”
Reicks wanted the same success as this older student, Tyler Horbach, who is now an internal wholesaler for Principal. She wanted to perfect her own business and networking skills. She quickly discovered the secret to his success. Horbach was a graduate of the Gerdin Citizenship Program (GCP) within the College of Business.
“I signed up the next day,” Reicks said.
“Our employers are able to use this program to identify those students who go above and beyond,” said Tara Fisher, coordinator of GCP. “Because it’s self-paced and voluntary, it really says a lot about a student’s dedication and character when they complete this program. It makes a GCP graduate stand out during the interview and hiring process.”
As an alumnus looking back at his experience, Horbach believes the GCP program benefits everyone involved.
“Great Fortune 500 companies such as John Deere, Principal, Target, State Farm, and Northwestern Mutual choose to participate in this program because they know some of the most talented students in the college join programs like this,” Horbach said. “Students have nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting involved with the Gerdin Citizenship Program.”
Fast forward three years later, and Reicks realizes that GCP played an important role in bringing her to where she is today. Currently serving as a student leader for GCP, Reicks has come full circle with the program. She attributes her academic and professional accomplishments to leaning in and taking advantage of programs like GCP.
“You may feel out of your comfort zone in the beginning, but that’s the beauty of the program,” Reicks said. “To reach your goals, every step is important.”
Raisbeck Endowed Dean David Spalding agrees and says the networking and soft skills practiced within GCP help students stand out when interviewing with employers.
“One of the things I consistently hear from employers is they’re looking for students who have stronger communication skills,” Spalding said. “Employers want to hire talented individuals who can demonstrate their competencies in ethics, service, and speaking. Students who complete GCP have those skills.”
Having initial contact with Land O’Lakes before the career fair at a GCP event helped her get one leg up with the company. Last summer, she participated in their Global Food Challenge Emerging Leaders in Food Security Program, traveling to Africa, Washington DC, and all over the Midwest to learn about food security on an international, national, and local level. This summer, Reicks returned to Land O’Lakes for a summer internship in international transportation.
Reicks says she learned more than she could have imagined and feels fortunate to be working for a company that aligns with her morals and goals of feeding the growing population.
“One should never underestimate the power of shaking hands and meeting recruiters before a career fair,” Reicks said. “Networking is the name of the game and GCP has the established connections needed for students to begin that process.”