December 21, 2017
Although Katie Elassar is originally from Long Beach Island, New Jersey, she has discovered a second home among the hills here in Morgantown, West Virginia, for the past three and a half years as a global supply chain management major in the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics. But on Friday, December 15, she walked across the stage, hugged President Gordon Gee, received her diploma from Dean Javier Reyes and turned her tassel to the left, becoming a graduate and embarking on a new journey – a career as an area manager for Amazon.
To say that she was involved during her time at B&E would be an understatement. Elassar was a B&E Student Ambassador, served as president of the WVU Professional Sales Club and brought home first place from the Old Dominion University Professional Sales Competition. Read her Q&A below as she reflects on her time at WVU and the College of B&E, and looks to her future.
- Why did you choose to major in global supply chain management?
- You are about to start your career at Amazon, but you are already familiar with the globally recognized company having been an area manager intern there this past summer. Can you talk about that experience?
- Why did you find it so important to be involved while you were at WVU?
- You mentioned wanting to open a bagel shop one day. Tell us more about that.
- What’s the best piece of advice you would give to a prospective or even current WVU student?
- Now that the college chapter of your life has come to an end, what will you miss about WVU and B&E?
I came in to business not really knowing what I wanted to do. Eventually my end goal is to open a bagel shop of my own because I’ve always worked at bagel shops as a kid. I liked marketing a lot because I like to talk to people and I thought that that was broad enough where I had endless opportunities, but I was kind of missing the numbers side of it. I started talking to my advisers and they told me to try out club meetings. At the end of my sophomore year I was going to double major, which meant staying an extra semester. But when I got into my supply chain classes, I thought that was really what I wanted to do. So, I dropped the marketing side of it and kept supply chain. Supply chain does give you the options, and if you want to be completely behind the scenes with the numbers, you can do that. If you want to be doing procurement and talking to people 24/7, you can also do that.
I was in Delaware, at PHIL7. All their sites are named after the closest airport. Philadelphia was closest. PHIL7 is one of their older sites, and it’s a really big site. I loved it. It was fast-paced. Every day, there are close to 2,000 workers on site. And you’re walking all day. You walk close to 10 miles a day because you're just running around. It was so fun.
Their intern roles actually give you a project. You implement a process by your fifth week, and by your 10th week you’re reflecting back on how it did and if it was successful or not and then you write a giant white paper – 15 pages max. You sit down with your general manager, the top managers and they have 20 minutes to read it and a 10-minute Q&A. You don’t present or anything and it was nerve-racking, but it was so real-world. That’s how they do real process implementations there. It was super cool.
It all started when I got an e-mail from (B&E undergraduate student recruiter) Rachel Nieman about the call for applications to be a B&E Student Ambassador. She just explained it so well. You get the behind-the-scenes look at everything. You’re helping out with different events and stuff. It just sounded like a great way to start off. Once I applied for that and got into Student Ambassadors, I learned about all the different clubs. I was able to work at the B&E Career Fair, checking in employers. I got two job offers just by checking them in and being a friendly face. You just meet so many people and we get to have lunch with the Dean. It’s nice to be feel like you get the inside scoop and your opinion really matters. When you recommend things, he really does take them to heart. It's really nice for anyone that’s looking to truly get involved in B&E and be able to make a difference.
Since I was in the seventh grade, I’ve worked at bagel shops. That’s what I would do during the summer. I just love making people's mornings. We have our regulars who come in, you know their orders, you have them ready for them, and the smile on their faces – you just make their day. And the profit margin on bagels is ridiculous. I’m not super spontaneous, so it’s a business where if you know what you’re doing, you really can make your money back.
If they’re about to come to WVU, I’ll tell them to get a planner. That is my number one piece of advice because I did not have a planner freshman year and I kind of got that whiplash – ‘Whoa! I'm not doing well in any of my-- when was this homework due?’ I had no idea. It’s so different from high school and working off a syllabus. Now, I just put everything in my planner on the first day.
I’d also say get involved. Over the past few years, I have gotten so involved and made so many connections, but I always say, ‘What if I had gotten involved earlier during freshman year?’ I’ve been to sales competitions and supply chain competitions. It’s about making those connections with your professors. Everyone says, ‘Go to office hours, talk to your professors,’ and I really, truly believe in that. Just going and showing that you care about their class, you may end up talking about bagels and they’re from New Jersey, too, and you become friends. Four years down the line, you’re still saying hi to them. It’s just all about connections. The things you learn in class are important, but people, that’s irreplaceable.
I love walking into B&E every day. It’s kind of like your family. You see 10 people right off the bat, and you’re talking about this class and that class. When you come back from summer break or winter break, so much goes on. People are talking to you about what they’ve been doing and what you’ve been doing. You just learn so much from each other. I definitely have become close to so many faculty.
But most of all, I’m going to miss football games. There’s just something about a football game on Saturday. Football games are the best. I’m also just going to miss walking a lot. Where I come from, you have to drive everywhere, and I love the fact that you can walk to class and be 10 minutes away from anything that you need or take the PRT over to Evansdale. I just love walking around this campus, it’s so pretty. It’s just a great place to be.