Today we’re chatting with Jessica Olesen, Executive Assistant to the Associate Dean. Students, staff and visitors alike are familiar with Jessica’s smiling face and friendly voice as she is typically the first point of contact for the Masters Programs Office.
Ashton Paulitsch (AP): Please tell me a bit about your role.
Jessica Olesen (JO): I am the Executive Assistant to our Associate Dean, Mike Maier. In addition, I provide senior-level administration support to the Masters Programs Office directors and their respective departments.
AP: How long have you worked for the Masters Programs Office?
JO: I’ve worked here for just over a year. Time has really flown by and I feel lucky to work with such great colleagues each day.
AP: What was your background prior to joining the Masters Programs Office team?
JO: I completed by Bachelor of Commerce degree here at the University of Alberta and then worked for seven months at a company that sells Xerox products. Working in sales was a beneficial experience as it took me out of my comfort zone when I conducted cold calls and made presentations to clients.
AP: What’s a typical day like for you in the Masters Programs Office?
JO: I like my job because I get to take part in so many different projects and tasks. My day can range from managing our Assistant Dean’s email, schedule, travel and document support to coordinating events, conducting research, building reports and planning development programs for international students. As well, I’m typically the first point of contact for calls, emails and walk-in guests.
AP: What’s the best part of your job?
JO: The best part of my job is interacting with students on a daily basis. I enjoy helping with the different activities that make their experience at the Alberta School of Business memorable. I also love my colleagues and I am excited to come to work every day!
AP: How would you describe the Masters Programs Office culture?
JO: Our entire staff is eager to help others and we truly have a collegial, team-focused atmosphere. We want our students and fellow colleagues to succeed and our actions show it. We also have a lot of fun!
AP: What advice would you give to prospective MBA students?
JO: Focus on doing well in your studies, but be sure to take part in things outside of classes too such as case competitions, networking or the Devaney’s nights. I really wish I had joined a school club in my BCom program. Also, I believe student self-care is important and I encourage our students to see their career coaches regularly. We are all here to help you!
AP: What do you think is the greatest area of opportunity for MBA programs today?
JO: I think an area of opportunity is providing more resources for international students coming to Canada. Providing a single document as soon as they’re accepted with all the information they need to live in a new country would help ease their transition.
AP: My last question is one I’m asking every staff member that I interview…what do you eat for breakfast?
JO: I don’t really eat breakfast…I tend to drink an extra-large can of Red Bull and then eat an early lunch!
Interview conducted by Ashton Paulitsch