Below is a guest post by Paulina Likos, LAS ’16, Political Science Major.
The Office for Undergraduate Students and the The Clay Center at VSB co-sponsored a panel of alumni with high-profile positions in the food and beverage industry. Alumni present included Brian Wynne from The Coca-Cola Company, Dave Biegger from Campbell North America (parent of a Villanova student), Denise Devine from Nutripharm, Inc. and Froose Brands, and Chris Gheysens from Wawa, Inc. The panelists answered live Q & A’s pertaining to career paths, internships and potential jobs within their companies.
The event formally began with each panelist presenting his or her career journey. They each depicted their struggles, as well as their successes, that brought them to this point in their career. The Villanova alum from Coca-Cola had much information to share with us. In order to reach the position he holds now, he worked from the bottom up. He stated that the purpose of having a degree is broader than a traditional undergraduate may think. Just because you have one degree does not limit you from exploring other career fields; there are a range of career possibilities and numerous paths to follow. One must take every lead in order to reach to the top.
Taking every lead is exactly what the creator of Nutripharm, and Froose Brands did. She originally had no intention in going into the food business, but she received an offer and just said “YES.” She emphasized that in order to have success in your endeavors, regardless of your career choice, one must have a passion for their cause. This is what ultimately brought her to the creation of her brands. Her dedication to preventing child obesity became her motivation to develop new brands.
The common trend that was evident among all of the panelists was that they did not stay with the first career they had; once they learned skills and professionalism from their start-up jobs, they were ready to become leaders in pursuit of a bigger challenge. This is the concept that Dave Biegger from Campbell described. He did not like the first job that he worked at, but he used that opportunity to learn what he liked. He stated that the traditional jobs are important, but there are new upcoming jobs for graduates. Companies are looking for recent graduates to deliver innovation and see what each individual can offer.
This was a valuable experience for me as a freshman because it eased my stresses of not getting the “ideal” job once I graduate from college. Just as the Wawa CEO stated: “Follow with what’s consistent to your core values.” This is a motto that should be incorporated into our way of thought when making decisions about our careers.