Enterprise Opportunity Driver scholar starts career in familiar setting

Rachel Gann, 2017 graduate

Recent graduate Rachel Gann determined UMSL was a perfect fit after just one visit. Four years later, following a host of valuable leadership and character-building experiences, she will start her career at Missouri Baptist University. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Leading up to commencement this spring, Rachel Gann tried to avoid the thought of completing her years at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. It wasn’t until the night before – while reminiscing with a friend she has known since orientation – that the gravity of the impending ceremony hit.

“That was when it was real,” Gann said. “We were reflecting on our time at UMSL. We were no longer talking about the current time or events next week.”

Luckily, the College of Business Administration alumna won’t travel too far to begin her career and will do so in a natural environment – a college campus.

During the stress of spring finals week, she accepted an accounts payable position with Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis.

“I never really expected to work in higher education, but it kind of happened that way,” Gann said. “Someone joked, ‘She loved college so much she didn’t want to leave.’”

The Farmington, Missouri, native also didn’t predict a career in finance, as she preferred the interpersonal aspects of her management emphasis. The right opportunity, which she calls her entry-level dream job, seemed to change her mind.

“I respected that [Missouri Baptist] had smaller teams,” Gann said. “I will also gain more communication skills with a smaller group and then maybe go to a bigger company later in my career.”

Through the interview process, Gann’s ambition and long-term business experience set her apart. As an undergraduate, she spent all but her first semester interning with an insurance brokerage, a position she discovered through the UMSL College of Business Academic Internship Program.

During the internship, Gann focused on customer service experiences and helped establish inter-office processes, which turned into a full-time offer. While grateful, she delayed her acceptance hoping for a position that provided more opportunities to learn and advance.

Sara Ross, director of operations for the business college, served as an unofficial mentor for Gann and said it was no surprise the senior could be selective with her career options.

“I was thrilled that Rachel’s internship position turned into a full-time job offer,” Ross said, “and even more proud when I knew she was preparing for the possibility of other opportunities as well. This speaks to her drive and determination to find just the right fit for the career she envisions. It shows that she was able to demonstrate to potential employers the same level of intellect, drive and positive attitude that I see in her.”

While acquiring at least one offer prior to graduation was a goal Gann set for herself, she recently discovered it wasn’t the norm.

“I found that I’m lucky to have that,” she said. “I thought that’s just what you had to do and make sure it got done. But a lot of people from other universities – that you would think have similar resources to UMSL – they’re still looking.”

In addition to her leadership within the Theta Kappa Chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority, one of Gann’s most influential experiences was her association with the Enterprise Opportunity Driver Scholarship program.

As a first-year student who didn’t know anyone at UMSL, she found the program helpful in navigating the transition to campus life through peer and faculty mentorship. To return the favor, she served as a peer mentor her senior year.

“The scholarship program helped out considerably coming from a smaller town,” Gann said. “Then once I was an upperclassman, I worked as a peer mentor with the College of Business. I had peer mentees to help them transition to college, kind of how I did when I was a freshman.”

Charles Hoffman, dean of the college, served as her faculty mentor through the Enterprise program and believes she has the necessary charisma and education to excel.

“Rachel is an example of what it takes to be successful in business – pleasing personality, collaborative spirit, knowledge and drive to succeed,” Hoffman said. “She will do well in the fiscal operations of a university.”

Through her valuable internship and campus leadership experiences, Gann emerged from her undergraduate years as a budding businesswoman and feels prepared for her next challenges.

“I’m more mature and confident,” Gann said. “Especially as a woman in the business world, you have to be assertive and stand out.”

The UMSL Experience

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