Inside Mizzou: Tigers in the Workforce

Closeup of two hands shaking (one in suit, one a tiger)

April 30, 2019

As graduation approaches for thousands of our students, we are excited for the bright futures they have ahead of them. They have worked hard in their areas of study, from the arts, to the humanities to the STEM fields. We are confident they will go on to excel in today’s workforce. Employers look for graduates who are effective leaders, communicators and global citizens, but they also expect them to be experts in their specific fields of study. We are proud to say 9 of 10 Mizzou students have a successful career outcome six months after graduation. What makes our students so successful?

Join Chancellor Cartwright for this week’s Inside Mizzou podcast where he talks with two graduating seniors who are going on to wonderful opportunities: Hadas Cohen is a senior earning her bachelor’s in textile and apparel management, who will be working as a merchandising analyst at Walmart’s corporate headquarters. Matthew Green is a senior earning his bachelor’s in economics and statistics, who will be working in Jefferson City as a fellow in the Missouri Data Fellows Program. We discuss some of the experiences that have shaped their time at Mizzou, and highlight the resources that have supported their journeys.

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[00:00:10] From the classroom to the cornfield, journalism to SEC athletics, the University of Missouri works 52 weeks a year, every year. This is Inside Mizzou — real stories, real discoveries and real impact of the Mizzou community.

Moderator: [00:00:29] Today’s episode is called “Tigers in the Workforce.” Today’s college graduates face a dynamic workforce. Organizations demand highly skilled workers in the STEM fields and the arts — people who can effectively problem solve, communicate and lead within a global community. They call these employees “T-shaped employees”: Someone who has a broad set of skills in multiple areas (the horizontal part of the “T”) but also deep expertise in a single field (the vertical part.) That can be a daunting reality for any student, and yet nine out of 10 Mizzou students have a successful career outcome six months after graduation. So, how do our students manage the complexity of today’s workforce? Joining Chancellor Cartwright today are two graduating seniors: Hadas Cohen, a senior earning her degree in textile and apparel management, who will be working as a merchandising analyst at Walmart’s corporate headquarters; and Matthew Green, a senior earning his degree in economics and statistics, who will be working in Jefferson City as a fellow in the Missouri Data Fellows Program. Thank you all for being here.

Everyone: [00:01:34] Thank you.

Moderator: [00:01:36] So, you both have some wonderful opportunities lined up. Can you talk a little bit about what you’ll be doing?

Hadas Cohen: [00:01:42] Sure. So, I will be working as a merchandising analyst for Walmart’s corporate headquarters. Essentially, what I’ll be doing is working with big amounts of data for a certain department within Walmart and kind of working with a buyer and a planner to see what are some spaces within the business that we can work on, what are recommendations that I give in order to really maximize the business.

Moderator: [00:02:11] And Matthew?

Matthew Green: [00:02:11] Sure. I will be working as a data fellow in Jefferson City as part of the Missouri Data Fellows Program. This is a new program that was just established this year in the economics department. One of the professors in the economics department wanted to find a way to get students involved in analyzing data and in getting econometric experience. So, along with support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, three fellows will be going to Jefferson City in the fall — the first three fellows of the Missouri Data Fellows Program — and they will be looking at statistics and data that the State Departments down there have collected, and will be performing different data analyses on that data.

Moderator: [00:03:03] Both of those opportunities are incredibly impressive. I want to take a step back and find out more about how you got to this point. When you first came to Mizzou, did you have any idea that this is where you would end up?

Hadas Cohen: [00:03:15] I had no idea I’d even end up at Mizzou. So, I grew up in Israel, and then I moved to Texas and Missouri was not in the plan whatsoever. But the second I came on this campus I absolutely loved it, and I came in as a pre-med student, so not thinking about textiles, not thinking about business in general. And pretty quickly I realized that I don’t see myself within that career path, and deciding to change that I moved into the Business School, then later moved on to the textile and apparel management (TAM) program. But I think that currently I’m in the best spot for myself because I am not only working in a place where I’m able to kind of achieve that balance of the business atmosphere, which I’m working with like a lot of data and stuff like that, but also the creative side in me. So, helping with the merchandise and Walmart does help me achieve that balance and so does the textile and apparel management program here.

Matthew Green: [00:04:14] So, this is not exactly what I was anticipating that my career path would lead. I came in as a statistics major, and I’ve always enjoyed working with numbers and have always had an analytical mindset, but I wasn’t expecting to really fall in love with economics. I took an economics class my freshman year — first semester of my freshman year — and I just really fell in love with the way that economics explains the way people make decisions and explains and describes the way that organizations operate in the world. And so, I really just loved economics and just fell in love with it and decided that I really wanted to pursue economics, and then also combine it with statistics and then find avenues in which I could use statistics to explain economic phenomena.

Moderator: [00:05:13] So, what experiences and resources here contributed to your career path?

Hadas Cohen: [00:05:18] I think that there are so many opportunities on this campus, and it’s important to not just look within your college for opportunities but also venture out. I think the fact that I switched majors a few times helped me see the campus in a bigger way. So, opportunities I’m involved with — the Alumni Association Student Board — helped me grow incredibly professionally but also socially. As well as, I went abroad with the business school, so I was able to grow my business skills and I was able to intern abroad for the International Trade Center in Shanghai through the Business School. So, learning how to work within a business, learning how to work within a team from that, and I’m not personally in the business school. And then opportunities within the TAM program — the TAM department, going to New York on a professional trip, having ATAM, which is Association of Textile and Apparel Management, bring in speakers that talk about business and the workforce — and just anything that is related to that has been super helpful to me understanding what I want to do with my life and kind of contributing to that.

Matthew Green: [00:06:28] I would say that just talking with my professors and visiting their office hours and talking with them and learning about their experiences and the different opportunities within economics and within statistics as well, and also my freshman year and throughout my three years at Mizzou, I’ve participated in the Data Fest event and been able to experience a realistic data analysis situation. And so, Data Fest is a competition where a large company provides a data set and then teams of economic, statistics, analytical majors spend a full 24 hours analyzing that data set. And so, that experience has really given me a good understanding of how a professional data analysis environment would be.

Moderator: [00:07:27] That’s great. Chancellor Cartwright, I can tell that you’re not only impressed with these students, but also incredibly proud of them. What does it mean for Mizzou and our community to have such successful students?

Chancellor Cartwright: [00:07:39] I mean of course I am. I’m very impressed, and I’m really proud of everything they’ve done, and showing that they came to the institution and really took advantage of a number of the programs that were here — participating in groups outside of classes and really learned a lot through that process. And for us having students like them here allows us to have a vibrancy to the campus, that we are looking at all sorts of different things outside of just classwork. There’s so much you can learn in the class and of course with our incredible faculty, but there’s a lot of learning that can be done outside of the classroom with your peers, and people like the two of them here today certainly contribute to that environment and allow us to do some exceptional things here.

Moderator: [00:08:32] Definitely. How does Mizzou prepare students to be successful in today’s complex workforce?

Chancellor Cartwright: [00:08:38] Yeah, you heard some of it today from Hadas and Matthew — is that we’re a comprehensive, public research university, and as a comprehensive, public research university of course, we have a whole breadth of programs. And one of the themes you heard today was having the opportunity to come in to the university, and you may not know exactly what you want to do, but you can find something that you love, and you need to embrace what you really want to do for the rest of your of your life. When I started college, I started as a business major. I was going to be an accountant and then I switched into engineering. You wouldn’t be able to do that if you didn’t have the breadth of programs we do here — to be able to move from pre-med to, you know, HES and really to look at textile and apparel management. That happens at an institution like Mizzou. In addition, I would say that it has to do with the incredible faculty that we have at this institution — people who are at the top of their field and know all of the things that are going on right now in that field and are able to translate that to our students so that they’re prepared when they go out and talk with anyone they interview with. I think the embracing of hands-on learning here at the university. We talk about the Missouri Method, and we talk about being Mizzou Made, and all of that has to do with really embracing those hands-on opportunities and practicing what you’re learning, and that prepares you in ways that allows you to be much more competitive when you go out and interview because you can talk about real-world problems, and you can talk about things you’ve done that may be applicable to the person you’re interviewing with, and they would understand that, “Oh, they really know what we’re trying to do!” And I think it gives us a huge advantage. That’s why, as you mentioned, we have nine out of 10 students have a successful outcome within six months.

Hadas Cohen: [00:10:50] I have to agree with Chancellor Cartwright, speaking about our faculty. The only reason I switched into the textile and apparel management program, the only reason I even knew about it was because I took a TAM class as an elective as a business major, and the faculty was just so good and it was so mind blowing that I can do something that I sincerely enjoy — like I enjoyed coming to that class — that I found out there was a whole major of it. And I can just enjoy going to class from now. So, I agree our faculty is phenomenal.

Chancellor Cartwright: [00:11:23] Yeah, you know, and I’ll ask Matthew about this, too, but I heard both of them talk about loving what they’re doing and loving that subject. And I think that’s critical because any time you can find something that you’re passionate about, something that you want to do every day and you’re really willing to spend the time in, then it’s no longer — it might still be a lot of effort — but it’s enjoyable. And it’s no longer a job but it’s part of what you’re doing and you really love it. So, I think I heard Matthew talk about that in taking economics for the first time.

Matthew Green: [00:11:58] Yeah, definitely and I would agree with Hadas about the faculty. I would not be an economics major right now if it was not for the professor that I had in my first economics class. He took an interest in me and suggested that I should pursue economics. He thought that I had a knack for the degree and for the discipline, and talking with him and just hearing about the different opportunities in the degree and the program really got me excited and interested — along with just the fact that I, through his class, really fell in love with the discipline. It got me really excited for all of the opportunities through the economics department and for future opportunities like this Missouri Data Fellows Program that I will be starting in the fall.

Moderator: [00:12:47] I love this idea of passion and how everyone seems to really love what they’re doing. But I think with that — and the Chancellor touched on this — there’s challenge and there’s change. So, Matthew and Hadas, since both of you had these opportunities in hand, it’s easy to focus on the future, but can you each touch on the challenges you faced getting to where you are today?

Matthew Green: [00:13:07] So, personally I would say that I’ve been fortunate and lucky to have great professors and great faculty that have taken an interest in my future and in my career path and have provided me with wonderful opportunities throughout my time here at Mizzou. I — talking to, in fact, that same professor that I had that first economics course with — was able to find an internship last summer with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, and then also talking with that same professor, I was able to learn about this new program that would start in the fall, which is in fact also paid for and sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. So, I would say that I’ve definitely been really fortunate to have a great faculty that has guided me through my career at Mizzou, but at the same time I’ve definitely had challenges and bumps along the way. I would say that just kind of weighing all of the different decisions and all the different opportunities that come my way and all the different avenues that I could go down, just trying to make those decisions would definitely be a challenge. And, you know, just making sure that I would stay focused, never turn down a good opportunity, but at the same time not say yes to all opportunities. So, those would be a few of the challenges that I face along the way.

Moderator: [00:14:36] Thank you for sharing.

Hadas Cohen: [00:14:37] I agree with Matthew when he’s saying that we’ve all faced different challenges, and I think our faculty does serve kind of as a backbone to us in making sure that we can lean on them when we need to and they can also like push us when need be. One of the biggest challenges for me was that I can think of right now — it was a very specific challenge — when Walmart came to campus to recruit my junior year, I was looking for internships just like most juniors, and Walmart was very adamant that they only interviewed people with a specific GPA. I didn’t have that GPA, but I knew that at the end of the semester if I worked really really hard, I can get that GPA. So, my professor told me, she said, “You know what — go up to the meeting, I know you’re technically not supposed to be there because you don’t have the GPA, but you might as well go. You have really nothing to lose here.”

Moderator: [00:15:35] The worst they could say is no.

Hadas Cohen: [00:15:36] Yeah, the worst that’ll happen is my ego will get bruised — just a little bit. And I got up, I went to the meeting, I was very nice, and I explained to the recruiter that I know that she doesn’t want to look at my résumé because I’m not within that criteria, but I know also that I will work hard to get to that GPA, and having that incentive and having that drive was really something that helped me that semester. And after, you know, going up to her and being able to interview, I was so convinced that this was a good job for me — really showcasing my talents — and I was able to really combine that creativity with business. So, it was really nice.

Moderator: [00:16:25] What about you, Chancellor Cartwright? You have had a distinguished career in higher education, and you often talk about what a tremendous opportunity it is to be the chancellor here. But there’s always some sort of challenge. So, can you talk about some of those that you faced up until this point?

Chancellor Cartwright: [00:16:40] Yeah, I mean I think we all face challenges. You know, certainly as a student I came over to the country and had to get my GED and then go to community college and then transfer from that into a university and eventually get my degree in electrical engineering. But then when I went to a career as a faculty member after my PhD, you know there’s so much that you have to do in terms of teaching and research and service and trying to do all of the things that you do as a faculty member. And I’d say that where I was really blessed was I had working with me a tremendous number of great students, some colleagues who were exceptional and willing to help me along the way, to help me get the funding and other things that were needed, and then staff who just were always there to help me with everything that we were trying to do. And I think our staff at this university are so dedicated to Mizzou and to helping all of our students, all the faculty, and help us to do all the great things that we want to do as an institution. And so, I think it’s the people that you meet along the way. You’ve heard about, from Matthew and Hadas, the faculty who have helped them — meeting them in classes — and then the people that they’ve worked with outside of classes. I think that’s what it’s about, is that people help you to be successful, and whenever you have those challenges, not being afraid to go and ask for help, understanding that we all need help at some point. So, that’s what I think it takes, and we’re fortunate that we have great people here that I hope are doing that — and I know are doing the same things to help all of our students, faculty and staff here.

Moderator: [00:18:36] I think those are really great words of encouragement. Do you have any more advice that you would want to give students when it comes to finding the right career fit?

Chancellor Cartwright: [00:18:43] You know, that’s a tough — that’s a very personal question. And it’s hard to figure out, you know, how do you find that right career. I think you have to think about, you know, what subjects do you really enjoy, which topics, what classes could you see yourself taking over and over and, you know, learning more about it. And I think understanding where your strengths are and what you’re passionate about. We’ve already talked about that quite a bit: What is it that you want to do for other people and how you feel you can have an impact on society. And so, it’s very personal, right. It might be, you know, literature, arts, something that you are very passionate about, that you feel you can’t live without. Music. And my biggest advice that I try to give people is try to find something that you could see yourself doing for the rest of your life, and it would never feel like work. When I come to work — as a chancellor, as a faculty member — it never feels like work, right? It feels like it’s what I want to do, and every day is then just so enjoyable to be around tremendous colleagues and faculty, staff and students. So, I think it’s really finding that place, and I think you heard that from both Matthew and Hadas today.

Moderator: [00:20:16] How about you both? What advice would you give to seniors who are still on the job hunt, or even juniors and underclassmen who are still considering what they want to do?

Matthew Green: [00:20:27] I would say for those seniors that are still in the job hunt is just stay determined, keep looking and don’t stop and be discouraged if you haven’t found the right opportunity yet. If you keep looking, keep networking, keep talking with those that are close with you and the professors that you’ve gained relationships with over the time that you’ve been here, the right opportunity will present itself to you. And for those juniors and underclassmen that still aren’t sure what they are wanting to do, what they want their career path to be, I would say that for them it is just really important to get involved, find something that you really love, talk with your professors and see what their interests are. See what they’ve done and how they’ve gotten here. I mean, the professors, they’re there to help you and to talk you through what you’re thinking about, and they want to help you, and they want to take an interest in your future plans. So, for them to talk with their professors and just find something that they’re really passionate about.

Hadas Cohen: [00:21:50] I have to agree. Staying determined and persistent for seniors is something that is super helpful — and especially now that people are looking for jobs. I think that for underclassmen and juniors — just a little bit of advice — I would say making sure you grow your network and constantly be OK with meeting people and saying yes to opportunities like we were saying before. There is no reason you shouldn’t do something. The worst that can happen is “No,” or you’ll get your ego hurt a little bit. That’s the worst. And even in that case, you’ll learn from it. You’ll be able to learn more about yourself, about different things. So, another thing I would say is find one person in this faculty — like a professor, a faculty member, a TA, someone who you can use as your mentor, or someone you can lean on, someone that can really guide you throughout your four or five years here at Mizzou. And someone that you can ask questions to when needed, that you can get advice from, that will give you a little push. It is so important to have that someone. I was lucky enough to find a mentor within this university, and I think that’s really helped my college experience.

Chancellor Cartwright: [00:23:05] The last thing, and I was just listening to Hadas — you recognize that it’s about resiliency. It’s about thinking about what you want to do and recognizing that you’re going to make mistakes and you might have taken a few classes and realized that you may want to be in a different major, you may want to emphasize something different in your major. And that’s OK. That’s actually part of the learning process, and we want to give people those opportunities to really explore and then find what they want to do that’s going to provide them with the best life that they can get.

Moderator: [00:23:48] Those were great words of optimism. Thank you for sharing, and thank you all for being here today. This was great. One more thing before we go.

Chancellor Cartwright: [00:23:58] I’m ready!

Everyone: [00:24:02] (Laughing)

Moderator: [00:24:02] Why did the cookie go to the hospital?

Chancellor Cartwright: [00:24:07] Well, that’s an interesting one. No idea.

Moderator: [00:24:10] It felt crummy!

[00:24:31] Our audio engineer is Aaron Hay. Our featured music is “Forest Park Rhapsody,” by MU undergraduate and music composition major, Ben Colagiovanni. You can find more information about Ben and his piece on the Inside Mizzou webpage. Make sure to join us next time, and keep an eye out for the chancellor’s newsletter to stay on top of what’s happening at Mizzou. Thanks for joining us on this episode of Inside Mizzou. See you around the columns!