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Senior Account Manager Lauren O’Shea returned to her alma mater, Elon University, last week for a speaking engagement. She spoke to Dr. Tony LeTrent-Jones’s Winter Term Class: Work & Society in a Globally Networked Age about her experience at Centrifuge Media and conducting business globally. We thought we would catch up with her and see how it went…

CMI: When did you graduate from Elon? What was your major?

LO: I graduated in May of 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing.

CMI: So how was it returning to campus after a few years out in the working world?

LO: With this also being my 5 year college reunion, it was a little surreal. Not only has the campus changed with new buildings (to the point where I had no idea where to park because what I knew as Visitor Parking was no longer in the same location!), but I felt…accomplished. I left college with so many valuable memories that I never knew would affect my career in such a positive way. And now, I get to give back and share those experiences with current students. It’s pretty cool.

CMI: What kind of advice did you have for the current students?

LO: I let them know to find something they excel at, something they are passionate about and go for it. The best thing about what I do now is that I love it, and still enjoy coming to work every day. That’s the key to a successful career, finding something you truly enjoy doing. That, and really knowing how to balance work and life to your specific needs, not someone else’s. That’s always huge, especially working in a global business environment.

CMI: What has your time at Centrifuge taught you about the global business environment?

LO: I can definitely say my view on the world has completely changed after all my travels. You without a doubt have to know and understand other cultures and, be open to them in order to have successful relationships. Your relationship with a single person (or even multiple people within multiple organizations) will more than likely be a positive one because you took the time to understand, and come up with new ways of thinking. Never assume people will conform to the way you’re used to doing things. Work together to find a way that works for both parties, regardless of culture. Besides, you’ll miss out on all the amazing food out there if you never take the time to try something new!

CMI: We have four employees that graduated from Elon, who all do completely different jobs, but are all really great at their position. It is actually the most alumni we have from any college, which is funny because there are bigger schools closer to our office. What is about Elon University that prepares students so well to jump into a career?

LO: The small classrooms and the small campus! There’s no ‘flying under the radar’ at Elon. Speaking in class was almost a requirement and, professors knew if you weren’t in class – which teaches you how to be comfortable with people and to set your priorities straight. It creates a family-like setting and forces students and professors to engage with each other on a regular basis. There’s always an opportunity to talk about new ideas, individual experiences and networking strategies…networking is huge. Someone always knows someone, who knows someone else, in the Elon family who you can get in touch with whether you just need advice on life or, potential job leads. My advice – never underestimate the small schools (or companies). You never know what you’ll learn!