Meet Rena Hooker

Name: Rena Hooker

Major: Finance and Banking BSBA, MBA with Business Analytics Concentration

Minor: Political Science

Graduation Date: May 2017 undergrad, May 2018 MBA

 Interview

What types of international experiences did you have as a student at Appstate? 

While at App, I went to China with the Holland Fellows, which was my first international experience. I was a rising senior during that program. As a MBA student, I had the opportunity to participate in a short-term trip to Thailand. Between both experiences, I got to visit 6 different cities in Asia. I had the time of my life during those programs. I wish I could do them all over again!

Having not been abroad beforehand, what inspired you to apply for the Holland Fellows program?

I had always wanted to visit China someday because I studied Mandarin Chinese while in high school; I just never thought it would be possible. I am so grateful to the Walker College of Business for putting such a strong emphasis on studying abroad - it's so important! I remember getting a mailer for the Holland Fellows program during my sophomore year, and I was very intrigued. After doing some research on what the program entailed, it became apparent that it really was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and completely unlike anything I had ever done before. I wanted to study abroad so badly, but had a fear of doing it alone, so being able to participate in this program with so many other students was really appealing to me.

How did that experience change you and your plans(if they did)?

 Being a Holland Fellow undoubtedly changed me for the better. Developing relationships with the Chinese students showed me the inherent value in diversity of backgrounds and opinions on an international scale; before, I had only been exposed to American ways of living and doing business. I came out of the program craving more opportunities to travel abroad. I went from not paying close attention to global news and commerce to pursuing a career where it would become a part of my everyday life. I gained such a deep appreciation for other cultures that I didn't have before, because all I had ever seen was the US. I feel like I have a different take on life and society now, and I'm really grateful for it.

When you were searching for a job after graduation, were any of these experiences helpful in finding a job? In what way?  

 These experiences absolutely played a vital part in getting a job after graduation. My international education was a focal point of all of my interviews, because there were so many skills and competencies I obtained aside from just the travel. The team-building, cross-cultural communication, and project management skills were all key points I addressed when answering questions. Experiencing the rest of the world paved the way for me to decide what I really want in my career. Because of it, I feel very prepared to join Volvo Group, where I'll be participating in an International Graduate Program.

Describe the company you will be working with, what your training program is like, what career opportunities are in store for the short-term.  

As an employee of Volvo Group, I will be located in Greensboro, NC at the North American HQ for Volvo/Mack Trucks. I will begin my tenure as a member of the International Graduate Program, which I feel prepared for thanks to my time as a Holland Fellow. As a part of this training program, I will join 20+ global colleagues to be trained in 3 different countries over common weeks, participate in job rotations, and work on group projects. I will also be living abroad for 2-3 months towards the end of the program for an international assignment. Upon completion of the program, I will continue working for Volvo Group in the role which I was hired.

What are your long-term career goals? How have your international experiences at App contributed to helping you reach these goals? Are there any things you would do differently? What are your current next steps?  

My long-term career goals are to continue working on a global scale, preferably within project and strategic management. I would love to pick up and develop new skills throughout the years, as well as put my finance and analytics skills from prior experiences to use where they are needed in different projects. For now, I am ready to fully embrace this international program and learn as much as I can, and I couldn't be more excited for it! I would love to have the opportunity to go back to China with Volvo at some point

Any advice for other business majors hoping to find a job in the field of international business?  

For any current business students wanting to work in international business, I would say to be patient during the job search, and to be open to all opportunities you might find. My first job out of college was not in international business; it was at a regional bank. Still, I learned so much in that role and from working for a bank, and I will always be grateful for that time in my life. I remember being caught up in trying to find the "perfect job" after graduation. Your dream job is out there, even if it isn't waiting for you right after you walk across the stage. Keep moving, strive to learn as much as you can in any role you take on, and if you find yourself wanting more out of your career, be diligent about finding the right fit for you, even if it doesn't happen right away.