It’s hard to imagine where you might end up after college because the constant classes and homework often make us feel like we’ll be here forever. Though you might not see it now, everything you’re doing in college at this moment is shaping you as a professional in the future. International MBA grad, Corinne Walker, is a great example of this, and we interviewed her to gain some insight on her college and career journey. Walker has a B.S. in marketing and her IMBA concentration was also in marketing. She spent time studying in Valencia, Spain, and now works as a marketing professional at a company called Geo Owl.
What were some of your personal interests outside of the classroom and now? How would you describe your personality?
Corinne: I am very active and love sports and working out. I was on the Track & Field team when I attended Penn State Behrend for my undergraduate degree and this largely shaped my college experience. Being a student athlete was not easy, but it was very rewarding and helped teach me the discipline and drive I needed to succeed. Personality wise, I would say I’m an extroverted introvert. I love getting to go new places and meet new people, but I do enjoy my alone time and need that to recharge. Hands down, my favorite activity is traveling, and I have the IMBA program to thank for that. I had always enjoyed traveling but after living abroad during the IMBA program and getting to travel all over Europe, I was definitely bitten with the travel bug.
A little background on me: I am an USMC military spouse and actually met my husband through friends while I was attending the IMBA program at UNCW. Because of this, an important passion of mine is helping other military spouses find meaningful employment and to help them in their career growth because I understand the difficulties that a military lifestyle puts on one’s career. One way I have been able to do this is by serving as a co-lead for UNCW’s chapter of the Military Spouse Professional Network (MSPN). MSPN holds an event each month for military spouses/significant others that focuses on career development and helps to connect job seekers with employers (https://www.facebook.com/groups/MSPNUNCW/).
There’s plenty of MBA programs in the world, but something interested you about ours. What was it?
Corinne: There are two main reasons I was interested in UNCW’s IMBA program. 1. The MBA program was accelerated, and I could complete the program in about a year. Because I chose to do the program directly after graduating college, I wanted to complete it as soon as possible so I would not fall behind my peers when entering the workforce. 2. The opportunity to study abroad for half of the program was very enticing. I wanted to study abroad in undergrad but didn’t have the chance, so I decided studying abroad in grad school would be the perfect opportunity. What other time are you going to be able to pack up your life for 6 months and move to Europe? I decided it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
How was your experience with the IMBA program and what is one or two major things you gained during your studies that helped propel your career after graduation?
Corrine: Studying abroad and learning from other cultures was the biggest takeaway for me. Learning how to best handle cultural differences with everyone from classmates and the professors to people out in town was a huge learning experience for me. I had not traveled abroad before I moved to Spain for the IMBA program, so I definitely experienced culture shock. One difficulty I experienced was the accelerated nature of the IMBA program made the coursework challenging; however, I’m still very happy that I chose to do an accelerated program.
For those who are unfamiliar, what is Geo Owl and how did you land your position there?
Corinne: Geo Owl is a DoD contractor that specializes in intelligence analysis. Specifically, we are a provider of Full-Motion Video (FMV), Geospatial, ISR, Intelligence and IT services to the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community. An interesting fact about the company is that over 99% of our employees are either veterans or spouses of veterans and we take pride in this statistic. (Including me! I am a military spouse and my husband is in the USMC.)
My path to Geo Owl was not conventional. I applied to a position that Geo Owl had posted for a temporary job where they needed a marketing person to help with a large trade show they were attending. Even though this was not a standard job, I saw the potential in the position and knew Geo Owl would be a great company to work for if I could get a full-time position. Thankfully, I scored an interview and got the job helping with the trade show. Afterwards, I kept in contact with Geo Owl’s CEO, Nick Smith, and at one point set up a meeting between him and a business contact of mine who I thought could help him with a project he was working on. Nick invited me to sit in on the meeting and afterwards he offered me a full-time position with Geo Owl as the Marketing Coordinator. I have now been working for Geo Owl for a little over a year and I couldn’t be happier.
My job search advice: don’t give up, find ways to show the company you want to work for how useful you can be to them, and be willing to take risks to get the job you want!
What is a typical day like working for Geo Owl?
Corinne: I don’t really have a typical day at Geo Owl, but I prefer it that way because I don’t get bored! I run all of Geo Owl’s social media so I’m always on the lookout for great content that I can post - anything from pictures and videos to articles about relevant topics in the military or intelligence field. I also create our email campaigns and handle the event planning, which could range from a company dinner to a trade show. Additionally, I began working with the Business Development team a few months ago and have started working with them on our federal proposals. With the variety of job functions I hold, I do get to travel quite a bit and I really enjoy.
What challenges have you faced during your college career either academically or in your life that you’d like to share?
Corinne: A challenge that I faced is one that is common for many people attending college and that is picking a major. I initially entered college as a biology major with the intent of becoming a veterinarian; however, after my first semester of classes I quickly realized my heart wasn’t in it. I decided to switch to business and took a variety of the entry level courses and that is where I fell in love with marketing. So many people are unsure of what they want to major in but fear making the wrong choice. I truly believe people must follow their heart when making that decision.
Is there any advice or thoughts you’d like to share to those interested in the IMBA program?
Corinne: The study abroad portion of the program is where most of the benefits are going to be gained. Make sure to consider your concentration choice and country choice carefully to get the most out of the program. Also, due to the IMBA program being accelerated, there is not time to work during the program (except for a small grad assistantship). You must make sure you are financially stable enough to be able to take a year off from work to be able to complete the program.
In what ways did the IMBA program play a role in your career?
Corinne: Completing the IMBA program and studying abroad helped open my eyes to the world around me. It gave me a better understanding on how business operates on a global scale and with the way the world is so interconnected nowadays, this is significant knowledge to have. Additionally, I believe having an International MBA on my resume helps me stand out. It is much more unique than having a general MBA and with how competitive the job market is, anyway that you can stand out against other candidates is always a huge plus.