Classroom Connection Led Alumna to Internships, Career
By Tabatha Piper ‘15, public relations major
Some classes are so fun to sit through while you learn new skills and knowledge. Other classes, well, maybe a little less fun. But how many students take the time to consider who is sitting right next to them?
When Kim Aikens, ‘99 was sitting in an Otterbein classroom, she utilized her surroundings. A women sitting next to her in the evening sign language class was both a professional and a student. The woman asked Aikens to interview for an internship at Abbott Nutrition. Two internships at Abbott and a graduation later, she was able to land her first job at Abbott Nutrition. And now, 13 years later, Aikens has risen to Abbott senior business analyst and still remembers meeting the student sitting next to her.
“Being at Otterbein definitely helped me get my job at Abbott,” Aiken says. “I would recommend to make the most of your college experience and branch out, meet other students, people outside of your comfort zone. College is a great time to make those connections. The more I lived the more I found out that it is not necessarily about what you know, it’s also about who you know.”
Aikens was a business administration major and marketing minor at Otterbein. The Cleveland native engages in financial analysis at Abbott in such areas as forecasting, budgeting, cost-reduction analysis and operational performance.
As an Otterbein African American Student Union (AASU) member, judicial council chair, resident assistant and assistant hall director Aikens was able to meet a fair share of people. She suggests to get involved in as much as you possibly can and don’t just do the things you like. She believes that students should reach out and try to do the things that they don’t know about to discover new passions.
“Those connections that you make in college carry you throughout your career,” she says. “They also help you get started. Who’s your roommate or somebody that you were in an infinity group with or their parents or their sister? Somebody might know somebody in the field you are interested in getting into and if you have that connection then it is easier to reach out and get your foot in the door,” she says.
Aikens thought that all of her professors at Otterbein were great. She enjoyed the class size and the attention she was able to receive.
“I felt like my classes were almost customized to me,” she says. “It didn’t feel like you were a number or anything like that and the professors were really accessible.”
Aikens says the general classes offered at Otterbein certainly helped make her a well-rounded person. Taking classes outside of her major really opened her eyes. As Aiken continues her career, one of the things she wants to do is become an entrepreneur.
“It’s funny. There are so many things that I wish I would have done at Otterbein, now looking back, 15 years later,” Aikens says. “Now it’s like ‘oh my goodness: why didn’t I do that?’”
And who knows? Maybe that person sitting next to you in class will change your life?