Student-designed program explores the business of connections
Katherine Kroening ’17 wanted to spend Interim taking an up-close look at a wide range of careers in business.
So the Arkansas native designed a program that enabled her to shadow executives at companies ranging from Walmart — the world’s largest retailer — to a newly established brewing company.
Kroening, an economics major pursuing an area of emphasis in finance, designed the month-long job-shadowing experience with support from the Piper Center for Vocation and Career and St. Olaf alumni.
She set out to use the experience to discern her vocational interests — and, she says, she accomplished just that.
“I’ve discovered that a career in business that mobilizes change is something I want to pursue and grow into as I near graduation,” Kroening says.
Visualizing the impact
Kroening spent two days shadowing St. Olaf alumna Marie Paterson ‘84, a member of the Change Management team at Walmart’s corporate office in Bentonville, Arkansas. While there, Kroening connected with Walmart team members from a variety of different fields.
“I really enjoyed that aspect of my time at the Walmart home office because I got to hear about different employees’ vocational journeys,” says Kroening. “It was exciting to see how passionate they were about their particular roles.”
Kroening also shadowed business leaders at the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, the Harvest Group, Arkansas Power Electronics International, Field Agent Inc., Ozarks Electric Cooperative, Core Brewing LLC, and the Parkhill Clinic for Women.
“Last month I learned the importance of analyzing consumer and product data, and how to make sales forecasts and plans based on that data,” says Kroening.
“It’s visualizing this impact, the evident change that the consumer has upon the products and that the products have upon the consumer, that really interests me.”
Discerning vocational interests
Kroening follows in the footsteps of several other St. Olaf students who organized similar monthlong shadowing experiences, including Will Raun ‘14, Lauren McDevitt ‘15, and Rachel Palermo ’15.
During the fall semester Kroening spoke with Piper Center Director Branden Grimmett ‘03 about her learning goals and the necessary steps to finalize her plans, and met with Associate Director of Service and Leadership Nate Jacobi to complete an academic internship plan.
“I was glad to have their guidance throughout the planning process,” Kroening says.