Any college student understands the pressure of the real world looming after graduation. Despite the exciting feeling of anticipation as the graduation date draws near, there’s an underlying feeling of unease. College life is similar to living in an untouched bubble, separated from the constantly changing world around us. Venturing outside that bubble can seem unmanageable. With so many different paths to take, figuring out just one can feel impossible.
Tim Mcilvaine, graduating class of ‘01, and Chris Olson, class of ‘03, gave their personal stories during the business colloquium, Climbing the Ladder? More than one Pathway to Success. Hosted by Heath Queen, these two Wittenberg alums recalled their personal journeys after graduating.
Mcilvaine, now a father and husband, is currently working as the associate vice president for Weber Associates. He started off the colloquium, recalling his days leading up to, during, and after graduation. He worked a few different jobs directly out of college, an experience he recommends to all college students, as you can never get enough hands-on experience. But Mcilvaine missed the active learning he had felt during his time in the Wittenberg business program. He soon went back to school, this time to Fischer College if Business and received his MBA. He has been at Weber Associates, a firm blending creative marketing skills with consultative selling experiences, since 2010, and plans on continuing his career with the firm.
Chris Olson took a different path after his graduation in 2003. He was able to secure a job quickly out of college with Pfizer, a multinational pharmaceutical corporation. Owens has been with this job for 16 years, but he stressed that this does not mean stagnation. Throughout his time with Pfizer, Owens moved throughout each of his company’s departments, rounding out his experience throughout the company as a whole. He was even able to head unique projects for his company, such as working with providers to lower the overall price consumers would pay for their prescriptions. Although Owens has not returned to school, he feels the liberal arts education he received at Wittenberg helped carry him through difficult situations in his workplace. An active member of the Wittenberg community to this day, Owens was the president of his fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta, and participated in as many different activities on Witt’s campus that he could. He graduated with a psychology degree, but felt — with the large pallet of classes he had been provided with — that he could confidently enter the business world.
Once introductions had been shared, it was time to open the forum to the students, who wasted no time asking their questions. Questions ranged across the board, covering topics such as internships, soft skills learned throughout the liberal arts education, and how hard would transitioning to the “adult world” really be? Owens and Mcilvaine took each question in stride, explaining how prepared they felt entering the work force, and assuring students that the real world isn’t nearly as scary as it seems.
Owens left the crowd with one piece of advice and comfort, “As long as you’re not the first person to stand up on a plane, you’re going to be alright.”