Be Open To Learn….Change

Edwin Garcia, Advertising and Marketing Major

Welcome to my journey through the School of Business Administration (SBA)! I am an advertising and marketing major. Through this blog, I will be chronicling my experiences pursuing the Athletic & Outdoor (A&O) Industry Certificate from start to finish.

My career aspirations are to work in a creative and challenging business environment where I can interact with professionals to promote new products. In order to achieve my goals, I am enhancing my general education with internships, student groups, and certifications. Along the way, I invite you to interact with me via social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram), join me at the various A&O-hosted events, and say hi around campus. Let’s get started!

Because of limited space, and in order to insure that my classmates are just as dedicated as I am, an application was required for MKTG 437 Channel Management in the A&O Industry. MKTG 437 is generally the last class in the certification process. The excerpt below is from my application to MKTG 437. I was asked to define my brand and story. To me, they are one and the same — each developing the other over time.

“My path to this point in my education has been unique, and that path has come to define my brand.

After two different majors at two different schools, I was quickly humbled by my mistakes. I had to focus on my strengths and persevere despite setbacks. Those strengths brought me to the SBA where I have gained the confidence to achieve success. Although the A&O industry is competitive, I am hardworking and I am determined to thrive in this environment. My motivations to pursue an education and career in this industry are authentic and rooted deeply in my passions. Before, I made decisions based on fear – fear of judgment, fear of career uncertainty, fear of failure. Now, I act based on love – love for achievement, love for myself, love for my family.

My brand has been torn down and rebuilt. My brand is focused and persevering. My brand is confident and striving. My brand is competitive and hardworking. My brand is authentic and passionate. My brand is loving what I do.”

Thankfully, the SBA had helped me define who I am and what I want to do. The amazing thing about business is that it empowers me to combine my strengths and passions into a career.

I want a career in the A&O industry because it is among the most competitive, exciting, and innovative. I follow adidas, Nike, and Under Armour very closely, as do millions of others. When I travel off the beaten path, I have preferences in my performance gear – Columbia, North Face, Patagonia, etc. – and I happen to live in the mecca of the industry. Luckily for us as college students, HR managers are seeking prepared, talented individuals to fill key business roles.

Before I started this journey, I had the privilege of conducting an informational interview with a Senior HR Manager at adidas. From the interview, I gathered that the journey is difficult; he compared job seeking to playing the lottery. However, he also advised me that gaining the right experience is key to catching their eye, mentioning the A&O Certificate at PSU specifically.

I opted to postpone my graduation to pursue the A&O Certificate. It was not long before the program showed its worth. I joined A&O Connect, a student group that hosts industry professionals to share their experiences. The first meeting I attended featured Russ Hopcus, the Senior VP of North America Sales at Columbia Sportswear. He had some words of encouragement and inspiration from his experience:

  1. 1. We Own Our Career Path.

    2. Our Paths Are Not Linear.

    3. Progress Through Performance.

    4. Be Open To Learn…Change.

Pursuing the A&O Certificate fits the criteria of all four, so I am on the right course.

If you are passionate about fitness, the outdoors, performance gear, and sports, then I encourage you to get the right experience.

~Edwin Garcia ’17, Fearless Senior


Edwin is a senior business student majoring in Advertising and Marketing.
He is also a member of A&O Connect, a student group that hosts industry professionals.


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Interview with Associate Dean Erica Wagner

Sydney Kim ’16, Marketing Major

Erica Wagner, Sydney Kim

I recently had the rewarding experience of interviewing Erica Wagner, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs at the Portland State School of Business. Erica is also someone I look up to.  A quick googling of her name will tell you that she has a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and has not only taught at her alma mater, but also at Cornell University. Her profile is extensive and covers many awards that she has earned during her teaching career, but that only begins to scrape at the surface. While I was crafting my questions for Erica, I really wanted to bring forth who she is outside of her professional life. I have witnessed Erica as she holds her hand out to those who want to be heard—she sincerely listens. She makes me proud to be a Portland State student.

Q: When have you been the most satisfied in your life?

A: I think I am the most satisfied in my life now. By satisfied, I am defining that as feeling most contented and most at peace. I have a beautiful family, I have a job that is really meaningful to me and I am where I know that I make a difference. I’m healthy and I have only first world problems or ‘lucky people problems.’ And, I like who I am more today than I did 10 and 20 years ago.

Q: Can you tell me about a time when things didn’t go the way you wanted them to?

A: The most important time to share with you was the time I was denied tenure at Cornell despite receiving a positive faculty vote… I remember the day that I found out, I called my mother and I was crying hysterically. And, I said, ‘I’m so ashamed.’ And, I said that before I really understood what the words were that came out of my mouth… I started to question, ‘Am I good enough?’… I am so much happier at [Portland State]. I enjoy my colleagues and I think the students are amazing, and I know I make more of a difference here than I made [at Cornell] and so, it’s all been for the best, but it was a very humbling experience…

Q: What do you think is one important aspect about business that PSU students today forget about or overlook?

A: I think that on average what our business students tend to forget is that business is situated within society and to be an effective business person you need to know a lot about the world. So you need to read newspapers and not just the business section and not just the Wall Street Journal. And, you need to be a social scientist and contemplate how groups of people might behave and why… and I think that’s one of the reasons why I’m a big advocate of the humanities as an important part of the business education.

Q: Can you give some advice for the students here at PSU?

A: The thing that you’re most ashamed of or hiding the most is actually your secret sauce. It’s the thing that you can convert into something incredibly powerful and it is what differentiates you from the next person.


I hope that you guys have benefited from this interview just like I have. I tried to illuminate the authenticity and openness that Erica adds to this school. If it wasn’t for her, I think I’d feel more lost especially as I near graduation. She has taught me that you need the bad things in life because they keep you humble and force you to become more introspective. And, most importantly, I have learned that business is more than just politics and power – it’s also about authenticity and vulnerability.

~Sydney Kim ’16, Fearless Senior

Sydney KimSydney is a marketing major graduating in spring 2016. She is an intern at Adpearance and a member of the events committee of PSU’s chapter of American Marketing Association (AMA).

If Only Bank Accounts Could Wear Capes

Guest post by Sarah Dunbar ’16

I proudly characterize myself as a nerd, or sometimes when I make a really bad joke, as a huge dork. So don’t be surprised when I tell you I sometimes think of different finance or accounting concepts in terms of fictional archetypes. If the ever-growing student loan debt becomes your arch nemesis and the savings account that earns a small, but steady, rate of return is the reliable sidekick, then the emergency fund would be the superhero that swoops in and saves the day, just in the nick of time.

As college students, we’ve all been in situations where you have just enough cash to get you through until your next pay day or financial aid disbursement (if you haven’t – just wait, it’ll happen). But what happens when you come home to find your cat has eaten your valentine’s day flowers and has to go to the vet? Or one sleepy morning you accidentally knock your coffee all over your laptop? How are you going to pay for these unexpected expenses?

Captain E-Fund bannerHave no fear, Captain E-Fund is here! (Here’s one of those times I would classify myself as a huge dork for actually publishing this terrible joke.) Who is Captain E-Fund? Day-to-day is known as an emergency fund, a savings account that is separate from your daily usage account. Specifically, should be set aside for unexpected expenses, such as car repairs, medical bills, or other unexpected expenses. Emergency funds are often used for monthly bills if circumstances arise where one would be unable to work and thus be unable to pay their living expenses. Captain E-Fund is unique in that you must build them from the ground up before they can save you from financial stresses. I was not a believer in Captain E-Fund until I found myself in need of their assistance and they weren’t there.

A few years ago I was living in an older, small apartment in NE Portland. It was adorable and vintage, but the rent was getting insane. I decided to move out to Beaverton in order to save money. Moving means lots of out-of-pocket expenses (security deposit + pet deposit + rental truck + first month’s rent + pizza to feed the friends who graciously came to help) which I was ready for, and had budgeted very carefully so that I would just have enough to cover everything until the following week when I would get paid. Unfortunately, my new cat was not very happy with the chaos that is moving. During the day I had kept her in the bathroom so she wouldn’t run out the door. Her reaction – to claw at the door until she had shredded almost every nail down to the quick. That evening, not only was I looking at a $250 bill at the vet’s office, but also whatever it would cost to repair the wooden door at the apartment. So much for budgeting carefully, I should have been preparing months earlier by building my emergency fund.

So, how does one start to build their own financial caped crusader? Here are three steps you can take today:

Dollar Bill1. Evaluate your current expenses and come up with a short-term goal. Many sources recommend enough to cover three to six months of living expenses, but being of limited means that can be a difficult task. I recommend starting with an achievable goal of $200 – $500, if you get there, keep building!

2. BankSet up an automatic payment to a separate savings account. Think of this as just another expense you pay for on a monthly basis, like your phone or internet bill. Already have a tight budget? Start small with $5 a month and build up according to your means.

Money Bags3. Celebrate your milestones! Get to $50 saved? Find some free (or cheap) and creative ways to celebrate your achievement. Post it on social media and get your friends and family involved. Discuss ways to reach your next goal – a friendly competition is always a good motivator. I’ve already saved $30 on my 5 Dollar Challenge and am looking forward to have my first $50 saved soon!

Unlike the many popular superheroes we have today, your emergency fund probably isn’t going to be made into a sweet Halloween costume. But if you start making these small changes today, you could reach your goal by October 31st!

~ Sarah Dunbar ’16, Fearless Senior

Photography by Portland Oregon Photographer Craig MItchelldyer 503.513.0550Sarah Dunbar is a senior business student majoring in Accounting. She is a member of Beta Alpha Psi, the Accounting and Finance Honor Society and a Peer Advisor in the School of Business Undergraduate Office.