MEET MAKENZI! She graduated with her Bachelor of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship in August 2015. She is currently the Manager, Marketing Content and Communications for Rheem Manufacturing.
We asked Makenzi some questions, advice for current students, and how UNT helped them to succeed and SOAR BEYOND!
When you started at UNT, what were your plans after graduation? How have these plans changed? When I started at UNT, I originally wanted to be a doctor. However, switched my major to entrepreneurship my second year and never looked back. My goal was to learn as much about business as I could so that I would be able to run one myself. Ultimately, to be able to have the knowledge and skillsets to bring immediate value to any organization I joined professionally. In my senior year at UNT, I took a marketing internship at Lennox Industries, which truly served as a catalyst for my career. I fell in love with corporate marketing, particularly in digital marketing specializing in social media and influencer activations. My time at Lennox propelled me into the corporate marketing world, where I have since then gone from the manufacturing industry to the mortgage industry, food industry, SAS solutions, and now back to my roots – the HVAC manufacturing industry with Rheem (a competitor of Lennox).
What advice do you have for prospective or current students as they decide what they want their next steps to be? My advice is to get your foot in the door at a company (ANY company), ask questions, take initiative, and own your career. Get your foot in the door somewhere and dig, dig, dig! Oftentimes I hear of students/new grads saying “no” to opportunities because it isn’t what they had in mind for themselves, whether it be financially or when it comes to the job title. I always recommend to look beyond this season in your life and remember the end game. Build your resume strategically, find a mentor who can help guide you in the industry you want to be in, and navigate your way through the process. It will not be handed to you, so you have to own your own success.
How did your program at UNT help you to feel prepared for this role? When I was at UNT, I was heavily involved in the women’s motocross community. As a student, I created Motocross Ladies, a company that promoted and advocated for women in motocross. I took advantage of every opportunity at UNT to ask my professors questions and lean on their expertise and coursework to help me start the company. Now, Motocross Ladies serves as an online community for women in the sport, but during my time at UNT, it was the one and only, all-female race team in the States, supporting as many as 10 athletes during the race season.
Tell us more about Motocross Ladies and entrepreneurship? Creating Motocross Ladies and being able to immediately apply what I was learning in the Entrepreneurship program, allowed me to grow my knowledge, confidence, and skillset that continues to benefit my career today. The business program at UNT truly sets students up for success. By providing students with passionate professors, strong programs, and the opportunity to learn vital life skills that will carry them throughout their career.
How does communication play a part in your current role? Specifically for the role, I am in now, I find that communication was a key learning from my time at UNT. To elaborate, the business program at UNT provides students with the opportunity to learn how to articulate themselves in front of a crowd while presenting, write professional emails, and navigate difficult conversations. I find myself thinking back to my time at UNT while prepping for an internal presentation, and even when preparing to speak about marketing to large crowds of customers.
How did you find your current role? I found my current role through LinkedIn. Also, through networking with old colleagues, as a handful of people I used to work with at Lennox, now work at Rheem.
What is your favorite thing about your field/industry? What is something that you wish you could change and why? My favorite thing about the HVAC industry is how family-oriented it is. Our customers are oftentimes small businesses passed generation to generation. While it may seem like a huge industry, it’s incredible how “small world” is really is. My favorite thing about my field is that marketing is ever-changing. What worked yesterday may not work today, so you never know what challenges you will face each day. Something I wish I could change? Honestly, not a thing. Every industry and field comes with its own set of challenges. How you react to those challenges defines your career.
What was the most challenging part of the interview process for you? To be really good at interviews, you have to practice. The more you do them, the better at them you will be. For me, the most challenging part of the interview process is getting back into the interview mindset, especially if it has been a while since you’ve done one. I find practicing with a friend, writing out responses to commonly asked questions and even identifying potential “red flags” on your resume and strategically knowing how to address them will equip you best during an interview.
How did the Career Center help you? I remember the Career Center helping our class get our resumes in order before we graduated. I found that extremely helpful – and even allowed me to help others outside of the UNT community with their own resume. My resume looks quite different now, but the Career Center helped me get it in a good place upon graduation.
Share anything else about your story/experience if you would like to that you haven’t already. I was a transfer student to UNT, after completing a year at a private university. Transferring to UNT was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It provided me with a diverse community – a place to learn from people both similar and much different than me. It allowed me a place to explore, to make mistakes, to network and make lifelong friends. I always tell people that UNT is so underrated. The quality of education received at UNT is top-notch. I hope high school students will put UNT at the top of their list!
Want to hear more of Makenzi’s story? Check out her testimonial video!