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An unconventional path to the corporate world

By Alexandra Wertz '12
December 20, 2011

Photo by Jonny Bauman '14

Lizzie Gelle '12 hasn't had any internships in a traditional business setting.

Two summers ago she volunteered to run a children's program in two local mobile home communities. Last summer she traveled to Denver to work as a service coordinator for Youthworks, a program that organizes mission trips for high school and middle school students across the country.

Yet those experiences have prepared her well for what she'll do this summer: begin a full-time job as a demand planning analyst with Best Buy.

"I learned a lot about working with teams, identifying and solving problems quickly, and the importance of helping others," says Gelle, a French and economics major who was a member of Companydance during her four years on the Hill.

As a demand planning analyst, Gelle will manage the inventory of a specific product or line of products in Best Buy stores and work with vendors to assure the right number of products are delivered at the right times and in the right places. "I didn't always know I'd end up in the corporate world, but what I have always known is that I thrive when I'm working with others, am challenged to do my best, and feel like the work I do makes a positive impact," she says. "I was lucky to be offered a job that provides me with those 'essentials' and that offers the opportunity to establish a career that will allow me to build on my strengths and interests."

Gelle landed the Best Buy job this fall with the help of the St. Olaf Center for Experiential Learning. She used the center's Ole Recruiting program, an online database for students to find jobs and internships provided by Ole alumni. "I owe a lot of my success to the dedication those alumni had to helping fellow Oles," she says.

In addition to this program, Gelle says she was also prepared by the wide variety of courses she was able to pursue during her time on the Hill — classes ranging from microeconomics to theology of religious dialogue to ballet. "This variety of course work has prepared me to think from different perspectives, and has encouraged me to remain open to many different career opportunities," Gelle says. "And the rigor of course work in general has prepared me to work hard. The academics at St. Olaf have taught me to be proactive, stay organized, and always put my best foot forward."

Contact Kari VanDerVeen at 507-786-3970 or vanderve@stolaf.edu.