Category: Student Spotlight

My First Year at MTU: Marco Marquez

MTU student Marco Marquez stands at a podium
Having grown up in Detroit, Michigan, Marco Marquez felt ready for the natural, rugged beauty of the Keweenaw Peninsula. The unique location, along with Michigan Tech’s STEM focus, led him to enroll in engineering management.

Since starting at Michigan Tech in the fall of 2019, Marco has adjusted and loves his second home. At first, he wasn’t sure what to expect and found it difficult to leave behind access to shopping, family, and friends. However, he says that meeting new friends and exploring the Upper Peninsula made the transition to college easier than expected. 

Marco has enjoyed getting to know students from other cultures and connecting through language. As a bilingual student, Marco finds language to be a starting point in learning about other people. Of his new connections, meeting a fellow Husky from Spain in Intro to Finance has been one of the most rewarding. He finds that collaborating on homework in Spanish to be a helpful way to continue using his second language.

Joining student organizations has also helped Marco gain new perspectives. One impactful experience was visiting Chicago with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers to speak with pre-college students in primarily Hispanic schools. The group encouraged students to think about their lives after high school and the opportunities that are available to them in STEM and college. Marco also traveled to Minneapolis with the Accounting Club, which prompted his decision to switch majors to accounting and finance. He is also a member of the Society of African-American Men, which participates in community service activities on campus. 

In his first year at Michigan Tech, Marco’s vision for his future has evolved. Initially, his goal was to get a degree and a well-paying job to help support his family. Since then, he has learned to aim even higher. Marco now aspires to create his own company in the automotive industry, where he will work to make travel easier, faster, and more affordable. He would also love to use his passion for language to connect with others while undertaking this journey.

Marco credits his growth to the encouraging culture at MTU, and wants to let other students know that stepping outside their comfort zone just might change their perspective for life. 

My Nontraditional Internship

By Jacob Mihelich

Last summer I chose a nontraditional path for an accounting major and interned as a personal automobile underwriter at Auto-Owners Insurance in Lansing, Michigan. This experience was both challenging and eye-opening for me; not only did underwriting expose me to a new industry, but it also taught me the value of soft skills. Student stands in from of Auto-Owners InsuranceI approached Auto-Owners Insurance at the Fall Career Fair last year hoping to land an internship in their accounting department. After talking with the recruiter about open opportunities and my mom’s position as an underwriter at another company, she suggested that I apply for the underwriting internship. Insurance has always been interesting to me, so I gave it a shot.

Although I was hired as a temporary employee for the summer, I was treated as a new hire, receiving a full-time employee’s training and the freedom to make underwriting decisions. I had a wonderful trainer and training group that I spent five weeks with. The six of us took a light-hearted approach to learn the material, but there was certainly a lot to understand. Underwriting is a detailed process that takes many factors into account to ensure that each insurance policy is properly written to ensure adequate risk, rating, and eligibility. Learning this skill was very involved, but Betsy was sure to keep things interesting with conversation and even bubbles in our training area for when we needed a break.

Once I completed the training, I moved down to the underwriting floor, where I would spend the rest of my summer. I was paired with a rotating mentor who sat with me for an hour each day for a month to review my work before I released it. Throughout this time, I was slowly allowed to release my work for processing without it being reviewed. 

Oftentimes, the agents I worked with had been doing their jobs for longer than I have been alive, but I had the final call on if a policy was written correctly. Since I was essentially auditing the agent’s work, it was inevitable that I would need to make a correction from time to time or ask for additional information. When I made a decision to adjust policy or ask for more information, I needed to ensure it was necessary, as it affected both the agent and insured. I did my research and asked for help from experienced underwriters when I was in doubt. Once my decision was made, finding the best way to explain my position then became the challenging part, as I had to strive to be confident in my decision while also remaining open to the agent’s viewpoint and the circumstances. Although I did my homework, I too made mistakes. I quickly admitted my error, apologized sincerely, and corrected the issue. I realized that everyone is bound to make mistakes, so it’s about how we rebound that matters.

My teammates were always willing to help and support me. I also got to know the other underwriting interns in my building. We’d take short breaks to have breakfast pizza to celebrate the team or for a birthday card to get passed around for everyone to sign. We also hosted larger celebrations throughout the summer like a salsa competition and a barbecue. When I reflect on my experience, learning the type of people I want to work with was one of the most important parts of my internship experience. When you get to work with friendly people, everything else is better, too.  Group of people stand in Auto-Owners Insurance office buildingI couldn’t have asked for a better intern experience than the one I received at Auto-Owners. I learned so much about how auto insurance works—a useful skill for anyone. I also improved my soft skills and confidence. For anyone who is considering an internship that doesn’t quite fit their path, I say, go for it!

An internship is a great way to try something new. Why spend the rest of your life wondering what may have been? 

2020 Bob Mark Business Model Competition Winners

The 2020 Bob Mark Business Model Competition was held January 29.  Eighteen students making up 13 teams pitched business models to advance their innovation. Community members and judges from across campus and the community selected the winners and provided the teams with feedback.

Student stands on stage during business plan competition
Jacob Soter is currently pursuing a TechMBA®

The winners of the 2020 Bob Mark Business Model Competition:

  • First Prize, $2,000—Kyra Pratley, POWERPENDANTS
  • Second Prize, $1,000—Jake Soter, SwimSmart Technologies
  • Third Prize, $500—J. Harrison Shields, Shields Technologies
  • Honorable Mention, $250—Samerender Hanumantharao & Stephanie Bule, Bio-Synt
  • Honorable Mention, $250—Allysa Meinburg, Haley Papineau, Sadat Yang, AAA Prosthetic Ankle
  • Audience Favorite, $250—Allysa Meinburg, Haley Papineau, Sadat Yang, AAA Prosthetic Ankle
  • MTEC SmartZone Breakout Innovation Award, ($1,000 Reimbursable expenses toward business development)—Ranit Karmakar

This event is a tribute to the late Bob Mark, professor of practice in the College of Business who started the Elevator Pitch Competition at Michigan Tech. The competition recognizes his entrepreneurial spirit and its continuation at Michigan Tech.

The 2020 Bob Mark Business Model Competition was hosted by Husky Innovate, a collaboration between Pavlis Honors College, the Michigan Tech College of Business, and the Office of Innovation and Commercialization. Husky Innovate is Michigan Tech’s resource hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, and offers workshops, competitions, NSF I-Corps training, a speaker series, and co-hosts the Silicon Valley Experience.

Preparing for a Future-Proof Career: My Experience at the Global Leadership Summit

By Jennifer Carolan, accounting student

As part of Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS), the honor society that represents the top five percent of the top 10 percent of AACSB-accredited business schools, I recently attended the 2019 Global Leadership Summit in Chicago. The event had many networking opportunities and included recruiters from Geico and KPMG (a top accounting organization), as well as amazing speakers and 400 other students from all around the globe. Throughout the conference, I made many connections to concepts I am familiar with thanks to my business classes at Michigan Technological University.

Student stands in front of pull-up banner at conference
Students in Beta Gamma Sigma are recognized by employers as being the “best in business”

 The Future of Work panel highlighted how with artificial intelligence (AI), it is important to have specialized skills and to rapidly adapt to technology. This is the perfect takeaway for me as a Michigan Tech student because Tech is giving me the tools to work with technology and to specialize with a data analytics concentration

During the trip, I became familiar with the Clifton Strengths test from one of the speakers. The Clifton Strengths test helps identify four key categories of strengths to better understand how people perform. The test provides self-awareness and helps understand how people with different skill sets work together, which is one of the skills that won’t lose value in the future and is something we spend a lot of time on in our Team Dynamics business class. 

Another reference to my classes was ethics. Ethics is a part of many of my courses at Michigan Tech and for good reason; I learned that 83 percent of people experience an ethical dilemma in the first two years of employment, and everyone does at some point in their career. One of the speakers taught the RAISE (Recognize, Analyze, Identify, Select, Execute) model to combat unethical situations. It is important to follow through to the end when combating unethical situations, even if it isn’t easy. I plan to take this advice to properly handle unethical situations in my future career. It feels good knowing I have a plan for difficult situations I might encounter.

One of Michigan Tech’s core values–tenacity–was emphasized by a speaker. They defined it as a mathematical equation: skill plus achievement plus effort. Michigan Tech students certainly have tenacity and it is an asset that won’t go away anytime soon. The speaker also mentioned the importance of self-awareness and communication, because the future of work will require soft skills no matter how technologically advanced the world becomes. 

Lastly, a recurring theme throughout the whole event was life-long learning. Dean Johnson, dean of the School of Business and Economics, also believes it’s the right mindset to have in business. It was noted that being a life-long learner is not just about continuing your education, but that it could also be specializing with certificates, learning new technologies, and simply being willing to adapt to our changing world.

Careers of tomorrow won’t look like they do today, and preparing myself for the changing world is an important step. 

Student stands in front of Beta Gamma Sigma pull-up banner at conference.
Students in Beta Gamma Sigma are recognized by employers as being the “best in business.”

My Internship with Bank of America

By Breanna Stohr

student stands in front of canal
Senior finance major Breanna Stohr’s summer internship shaped her career goals.

My summer internship with Bank of America in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was a memorable one. The opportunities I was given were unbelievable. I am proud to say I was able to find not only my dream job but my dream company as well!

I experienced both the retail and the wealth management side of the company. On the retail side, I worked closely with my market leader and the leader of the Student Rush program. Through this program, I traveled to Grand Rapids colleges and universities to engage them in the opportunity of Bank of America coming onto their campus to teach financial literacy to students. I connected with many student-life representatives within the Grand Rapids community area. It was great!

In the downtown wealth management office (previously branded as Merrill Lynch, the American investing and wealth management division of Bank of America), I networked with established financial advisors within the Grand Rapids area. There, I cemented my career plan to become a successful financial advisor after I graduate this spring. I worked closely with a financial advisor on research projects including bank rates, budgeting tips, digital apps, unique ways to change daily habits in your financial life, constructive criticism, and hospice and home health care.

Throughout my internship, I grew as a young professional by experiencing many different work environments. Being a student from Michigan Tech made me stand out for sure. I demonstrated to teammates at Bank of America what Michigan Tech School of Business and Economics students can do, and also how involved the University is with preparing its students for the professional world.