Kristel Owens knows first-hand what it’s like to be a UAlberta MBA student. Now a Masters Programs Office employee, Kristel connects students to employers through internship, job shadow and post graduate employment opportunities in the business community.
Ashton Paulitsch (AP): How long have you worked for the University of Alberta and what attracted you to the Employer Relationship Advisor role?
Kristel Owens (KO): I started the Employer Relationship Advisor role on January 11, 2017. I was really engaged with the Business Alumni Association as a volunteer this past year and thoroughly enjoyed my University experience so I jumped at the opportunity to work for my alma mater.
AP: The Employer Relationship Advisor is a new position in the Masters Programs Office. Can you tell us a little bit more about the role?
KO: The Employer Relationship Advisor role gives our Masters Programs Office the opportunity to focus on external relations with employers. My goal is to build relationships with employers and seek opportunities for students to engage with the corporate community through internships, networking and employment.
AP: What was your background before starting this role?
KO: I was self-employed for seven years. I co-founded and managed a security company and was a real estate investor and property manager. I graduated from the UAlberta MBA program in 2016 and the BCom program in 2015.
AP: What did you learn from being self-employed?
KO: I learned to be agile, hardworking and open to opportunities. Owning a business and various real estate investments during the financial crisis of 2008 also taught me to be flexible and perseverant.
AP: What are some of your favourite memories from your time as a MBA student?
KO: My greatest memories are the people connections I made with classmates, professors, industry professionals and Masters Programs Office staff. These are truly lifelong connections. I also have fond memories of the Jasper retreat, sustainability case competition in Montreal, MBA gala and Japan/Korea study tour.
AP: What advice would you give to prospective MBA students?
KO: Get out there and mingle with classmates, professors and industry leaders. Attend all of your class lectures because we are spoiled with incredible academics in our MBA program that have invaluable industry experience too. Lastly, take advantage of MBA Career Services. They are career development experts and eager to guide you on your career journey.
AP: What were your favourite classes as an MBA student?
KO: Definitely Joel Gehman’s Corporate Sustainability (SMO 638) and Marvin Washington’s Business Strategy Capstone (SMO 641) courses. Both are authentic lecturers and thought leaders in their respective fields. I also loved Trish Reay’s Change Management course…the list is endless!
AP: What do you see as the greatest area of opportunity for MBA programs?
KO: I think the greatest area of opportunity lies in introducing more live projects and strengthening the alumni, student and employer community.
AP: What advice would you give to students who are looking to strengthen their relationships with employers?
KO: Brush up on your business etiquette before you network. If you end up scheduling an information gathering interview or coffee with someone, make sure you arrive on time and respect their time. Remember, if you invite them, you should be buying the coffee! Afterwards, be sure to follow up and thank them for their time with a quick email or a handwritten card.
AP: Why should employers consider engaging with UAlberta MBA students?
KO: Our MBA students come from diverse backgrounds and already have work experience in fields such as engineering, business, health care, the arts and science. They have so much to offer and are eager to not only learn from you, but put what they’ve learned in the classroom into practice. There are many ways for employers to engage with UAlberta MBA students, ranging from class projects, to info sessions, career treks, internships, networking events and post-graduate employment.
AP: Why should full time MBA students consider doing an internship in the summer between their first and second year?
KO: An internship can be incredibly valuable for MBA students, especially if they are looking to make a career shift. It’s important to gain practical experience while also assessing if a career path is the right fit for you. Internships also build your network and give you the chance to apply your learning to a real-world situation.
AP: How is Kristel with an MBA, different than Kristel without an MBA?
KO: Kristel with an MBA appreciates collaboration more than ever. Group work and countless projects provided proof that diversity breeds creativity, so I now know never to work alone.
AP: Ok, now the hardest question of all…what do you eat for breakfast?
KO: Vanilla Greek yogurt with blueberries. Oh, and coffee of course! I drink coffee at the start of each day and throughout the day too.
Interview conducted by Ashton Paulitsch