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"Even Though it Was a Big School, It Was a Big School Where I Could Matter"

2018-12-18 11:15:00.0

Student Feature: Allison Muntin

From a couple of weeks stay to a full semester, The University of Akron offers a wide variety of options to study abroad. “I have been wanting to study abroad since I arrived here,” Junior corporate finance, risk management and insurance, and international business triple major, Allison Muntin, shared. This fall, she finally got that chance. In September, Allison packed her bags and headed to Skema Business School in France where she has spent the last 3 months studying, absorbing the local culture, and earning some credits along the way.

In her search to find the right program for her, Allison learned that, not only does UA offer traditional study abroad experiences, it also partners with several international business schools to create an exchange program that offers a one-to-one tuition exchange, helping to remove some of the financial barriers that often prevent students from studying abroad. “It’s a direct Akron partnership,” Allison stated of the relationship between UA and her school in France. “That means I pay Akron tuition. It’s a really great program and it seems like not a lot of people know about it!”

While in France, Allison is still responsible for paying for any non-academic expenses such as travel, lodging, and food. “I’m a finance student and obsessed with tracking numbers, so just about every day I go into my budget when I find out new information about how much something costs and try to figure out how much I’m going to spend through the semester.” She shared. In doing this, Allison discovered a welcome surprise--she will actually be saving money on her overseas study! “My rent in Akron is around $570 a month and in France it will be around $230. Groceries are cheaper there and the cost of living in general is cheaper. Even my cell phone bill is only about $5 per month for 50GB of data!”

This drives home a point Allison has been hoping to get across—studying abroad is possible!

Before she left, she sat down with us to share a little about her experiences leading up to her study abroad adventure.

Becoming a Zip

Although both of her parents are former Zips, The University of Akron was not at the top of Allison’s list when she was first searching for a college. It wasn’t until a quick visit to campus that she began to consider it as a possibility. “By that point, I had missed all of the official tour dates, so when we called and wanted a tour, they put together a personal tour for me.” On her visit, the things that set UA apart from other universities began to stand out. “At the other schools I visited, you were just in a herd of people walking around,” Allison shared. “No one knew who you were. Here, I had a personal tour. I met someone from the CBA and the Honors College and a student took me around campus. I felt like I really connected. I felt like, even though it was a big school, it was a big school where I could matter.”

As a freshman, Allison dove headfirst into UA life, kickstarting her first year with a UA Honors College service trip to Guatemala and ending it by being nominated as President of the fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi (DSP). As President, Allison got some quick, on-the-job experience in leadership. “It’s very interesting to plan a trip for 20 students when you’re 19 and have to book hotel rooms and rental cars, and then not being able to book rental cars because you are 19 and needing to find other people to do it,” Allison laughed. “I feel like I lived in the CBA because I was here all the time, but it’s been great. I feel like every time I walk through the hallway I see someone I know.”

When asked what led her to triple major, Allison laughingly replied, “I feel like that’s the question I get most often!” Originally an accounting major, Allison quickly discovered that, while she loved numbers, accounting just wasn’t a good fit. “I learned that accounting deals more with the past—what has happened—and finance largely focuses on predictions and what could happen or what should happen. So, I switched from accounting to finance. That’s how I got my first major.” Her next major, risk management and insurance, was added when Allison’s advisor informed her that she would need to take only an additional 9 credits to add the major.

Allison’s third major came about almost by accident. “I was always an international business minor,” Allison shared. “Then, one day I was scheduling my classes and I pulled up the distribution to make sure I had all the classes I needed. I realized that, because I had already fulfilled the language requirement and was planning to study abroad, it was the same amount of classes for the major as the minor. So, it was purely by coincidence. I’m not crazy!”

As an added bonus, because of the way many of the finance majors overlap, Allison will still graduate in 4 years, taking around 15 credits a semester. “It sounds much more impressive than it is,” Allison stated humbly. “The way Akron designed the classes made it really easy to do.”

Getting Career Ready and Connected

Listening to her confidently describe her experiences, it’s surprising to learn that Allison wasn’t always an outgoing person. “When I was little, I was the most petrified human of all time. Any time someone would walk up, I would start sobbing and hide behind my mother and would not talk to them. When I got to college, I didn’t know anyone here at all. I had to figure out how to put myself out there.”

One way she accomplished this was by taking advantage of the many opportunities for networking and professional development offered at the CBA. “I just started going to as many of those as I could and now I feel very comfortable,” Allison shared. “We had a networking event with the Goodyear executives the other day. I talked to people in the C-Suite and was completely calm, and that’s something that has been a huge change in the past two years. I feel much more comfortable talking to people and I think that is because of all the professional nights the CBA puts on.”

Allison noted that that same afternoon she would be meeting with her executive mentor, Mark Belgya, CFO of The J.M. Smucker Company, with whom she connected at the CBA’s Coach and Connect mentorship program. “It’s crazy that this is a program that we put on and that we get people as big as the CFO of Smucker’s,” Allison commented. “He’s very nice and not intimidating at all, which is not what I expected. It has been a really great opportunity.”

Internship

While still here in Akron, Allison was able to get a taste of the global environment before she even left the city. In addition to making final preparations for her European adventure, Allison spent the majority of her summer interning in the Global Procurement Department of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. “I got this internship completely by chance!” Allison shared. “I wanted to work at Goodyear for the summer, and wasn’t really sure how to get it. When I walked up to the table at the Career Fair, there were about 8 recruiters, and I gave my little elevator pitch in hope that it was a finance guy.” When Allison was informed that the finance person had in fact just stepped out of the room, she decided to strike up a conversation with the recruiter with whom she had originally spoken. “He was in procurement and we just started talking about procurement and what he does in his world and it was just a really normal, easy flowing conversation. Apparently he liked how it was going because he asked me to interview and then he hired me the next day!”

Allison spent her summer in the Global Procurement Department as part of a team where her responsibilities included everything from purchasing chairs for the company’s newest offices to updating Goodyear’s preferred hotel list. “It’s been a very diverse internship, but it’s been a lot of fun. I’m working right now with the person in charge of financial services, making sure all those contracts are correct. Someone is charge of contingency workforce, someone is in charge of real estate, and I got plopped into that team and have been helping support all those different functions. It’s been almost better than getting the finance internship that I’d originally wanted. I’m constantly running from meeting to meeting doing different things, which is good. I like to be diverse.”

That diversity, along with her overseas experiences, will serve Allison well in the future. Following graduation, Allison hopes to work in corporate finance on an international scale. Looking back on what she has already accomplished in just two short years, it seems safe to say Allison will achieve whatever she sets her mind to.

Adventure Abroad

It is now December and Allison has spent nearly a semester overseas. From connecting with people from around the globe to exploring new places and cultures, Allison has discovered that the study abroad experience goes far beyond simply studying. Allison shared, “This semester so far has really been a season of discovery. I’ve been able to travel to 16 countries, most of which I did as a solo traveler. I’ve met some of the coolest people on earth from situations like sitting beside one another in class, or sharing a bus on the way to the Sahara Desert. Studying abroad has expanded the way I think, the way I approach situations, and the way I view people. It has changed me as an individual, as a student, and as a future professional.”

If you are interested in taking your own adventure, visit https://www.uakron.edu/study-abroad.