Applying for the Human Ecology Professional Mentoring Program was the best decision I made my senior year at Kansas State. As a senior studying Apparel & Textiles with a Specialization in Marketing, completing a Business Administration, and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies minors, I was looking for ways to expand my network before graduation. In September, I applied for a mentor with no real expectations while being optimistic of the pairing. It could not have turned out better in the end.
I was paired with Christine Michalek, a technical designer at Under Armour, working with the Olympics and special teams. Although as a marketing student, technical design is not in my realm of study I have still been able to learn a lot professionally from our mentoring relationship. Since we have been paired together we have monthly meetings over FaceTime, and discuss trends in the workforce, her current projects, along with my school work. Christine has given me sound advice as I have been job searching in preparation for graduation. Our communication style is very laid back, we also text and email in between our monthly meetings.
Over spring break I flew out to Baltimore, Maryland to visit with Christine in person and job shadow her at Under Armour. This was the farthest northeast I have ever been and I was looking forward to exploring a new city. We took a water taxi to work in the mornings, since the Under Armour campus sits impressively on the harbor overlooking the Patapsco River. During my tour I met with Jami Dunbar, a K-State Almun who initially brought Christine on board with the mentoring program. Jami has had a notable career, currently the Vice President of Technical Design and Product Development as well as spearheading the UA Lighthouse Innovation Center. One of the highlights from the trip was meeting with Jami, discussing the mentoring program at K-State, innovation in athletic wear, and women helping women in the workforce.
During my time job shadowing at Under Armour I had the opportunity to meet with professionals working in a multitude of positions across departments. They allowed me to get a preview into their daily functions and job requirements. It was inspiring to see the individual paths everyone’s career has taken, and the diverse channels that has lead them all into their current positions. I sat down and spoke with people on the marketing run team, accounts and customer service, product line management, college sports marketing, product development, and human resources. Under Armour offers a vast network of jobs in a comprehensive work environment that fosters teamwork and collaboration across all channels. I had the opportunity to see this first hand and network with professionals I would have never met if not for the mentoring program and the travel grant.
Coming back from this trip I have been able to put into perspective future career goals for myself and am now anticipating my graduation. Finally meeting my mentor made our relationship stronger and I am so thankful for the time she has put into our partnership. I am also grateful for everyone at K-State that made this opportunity possible for me, the donor, and the faculty/staff in the College of Human Ecology.
If you are interested in joining the College of Human Ecology’s Professional Mentoring Program as a mentor or mentee, CLICK HERE.
For more information regarding the travel grant program, CLICK HERE.