Austin Schaefer, B.S. business administration ’16, and Osa Aikhionbare, B.S. business administration ’16, have excelled in business school and clinched the SCIAC championship as teammates on the Panther’s football team. As seniors at Chapman, they were given the opportunity to take their talent and drive into the professional world at Monster Energy Company in Corona, Calif. Their experience at Monster allowed them to follow their passion for business management, and apply the discipline they learned on the football field and the open-minded approach their Chapman experience instilled in them.
Chapman University: Tell us about your job with Monster.
Austin Schaefer: I began working for Monster as an ambassador when I was a senior at Chapman. It was a great experience that allowed me to witness firsthand how the consumer interacts with our products. From there I was given the opportunity to intern in category management, where I currently work. Our category management team continuously looks for ways to help our partners improve their business. This is done through mining big data, developing shelf schematics and delivering customer insights.
Osa Aikhionbare: I am a space analyst/coordinator on the category management team. I work with an experienced group that is full of knowledge and industry expertise, so I learn new things daily. My day-to-day consists of calculating and analyzing the space allocation across the different beverage categories including energy, soda, tea, functional water, and RTD coffee. I draft business reviews for retailers across retail channels (mass, convenience, grocery, etc.) Using retailer sales data, I create schematic proposals to help retailers maximize shelf space in an effort drive sales dollars.
CU: What do you like best about your job and working at Monster?
AS: I fell in love with the culture at Monster from the start. The people I work with are extremely passionate about their jobs and their passion is contagious. It is incredible to have the opportunity to work with so many talented and driven business professionals every day. Everyone on the category management team has something to bring to the table and actively spreads their knowledge to other coworkers. It has been a great environment in which to grow and develop my knowledge of different areas of the business.
OA: The thing I like the best about Monster is the dynamic of the category management team. The culture within our department aids in continued success. My mentors Ted Storey and Rey Valdez have been a very important factor in my growth, development, and overall immersion into the culture.
CU: How has our Chapman degree helped you?
AS: It taught me how to be very disciplined. The many sleepless nights of studying definitely paid off in the end. Graduating left me with a greater appreciation for every class that I had taken. I realized there is always something to be taken from every class including those that may not be directly related to your major. You get out what you put in and much of that was learned while earning my degree.
OA: The degree I received from Chapman gave me the strong foundation needed to excel in the professional world. Chapman taught me the concepts and theory behind what I do daily.
CU: How has your career path and learning on the job helped you evolve?
AS: Putting myself out there and trying new things has been the driving force behind my personal growth since graduating. Meeting new people and learning about different roles is the only way to find out what you actually want to do. I always had an idea of what I wanted to do professionally after graduation but it wasn’t until I fully experienced the work environment that I developed a much clearer vision for the future. Knowing exactly where I want to be has allowed me to better monitor my self-growth and take the right course of action to reach my goals.
OA: Since graduating from Chapman, the on-the-job training I received has taught me the practical application of the concepts and theories that I explored while studying in Argyros School of Business.
CU: What insight do you have to offer current students and alumni who are searching for employment?
AS: Take advantage of all the resources available to you on campus. We have an excellent Career Development Center filled with faculty who are willing to go above and beyond to help you succeed post-graduation. Stay connected with your professors and other Chapman students. The Chapman alumni base is strong, so take advantage of it and network with as many people as you can. Lastly, be open to every opportunity that comes your way, even if it isn’t what you went to school for or not a field you are necessarily interested in. It sounds cliché, but you’ll never know what doors could be opened if you are too quick in rejecting options.
OS: The advice I would give to students and alumni who are searching for a career opportunity is use your network. Chapman puts us in contact with some extraordinary people. Reach out to alumni, other students and Chapman professors. Be sure to start, build and maintain these relationships.
CU: What advice do you have for current students who want to make the most of their time at Chapman?
AS: Don’t take college too seriously. Maintain a steady balance between studying and your social life. College goes by fast and if you are too caught up in planning for the future, the moment will pass you by. Just be yourself and I guarantee you will build meaningful relationships that will last long after graduation.
OA: Join an organization, club or sport. This will help you build your network, and show future employers your ability to manage your time and multitask, so get involved! I would also urge students to study abroad for a semester. It will allow you to grow as a person and gain a different perspective. Internships are important—they offer invaluable experience and allow you to apply the concepts you are learning in school while they are fresh in your mind. Internships will also expose you to software and tools that you do not have access to in school, allowing the further expansion and maturation of your skills. Aim for two or more internships during your time at Chapman. Lastly, enjoy Chapman’s beautiful campus, Southern California’s weather and make life-long connections.
CU: Which Chapman faculty member(s) made the greatest impact on you and how?
AS: The Chapman football coaching staff had a huge impact on me. All of them truly care about their players, beyond the game of football. It’s tough being a student athlete, especially when you are young and immature. You are constantly on a time crunch and our coaching staff gave me the guidance I needed to succeed. I also took a lot from Chapman’s leadership program. Professor Hayashi and Professor Maier are extremely dedicated to transforming students into leaders. Both of their classes gave me a much bigger perspective on how to work with different people by using our differences as strengths. I highly recommend that all students get involved in the leadership program. I also have to give a huge shout out to Ms. Morlet in the Career Development Center. She spent a tremendous amount of time with me polishing my resume and preparing me for interviews. I can’t thank her enough for everything she has done for me and other student athletes.
OA: “You can play football, but what do you want to do in life? How can I help you get there?” Those 27 words had me sold, because, for the first time in my life, a coach (who gets paid to produce a competitive football team) was more focused on helping me learn and grow as a person than how I was going to help his team win. Throughout my time at Chapman I spent countless hours in Coach O.’s office talking about family, classes, the stock market, and life planning and so many other things. Coach O. loves young people and wants to see us all succeed. My most memorable Coach O. quote is, “One day you and your generation will run the world.”
CU: How were you involved on campus during your time as a Chapman student?
AS: I was on the Chapman football team as well as a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha international fraternity. Both the football team and Pi Kappa Alpha hosted various philanthropy events on campus that supported some great organizations.
OA: During my time at Chapman I was a member of the Panther football team, and went to every sporting event held on campus to support the hard work of my fellow athletes.
CU: What is your favorite Chapman memory?
AS: My favorite Chapman memory was beating Redlands my junior year to become champions of the SCIAC conference. All of the Chapman athletes out there know how big the rivalry is between Chapman and Redlands, and it was huge to clinch 1st place in conference by beating them on their own field. Our team worked so hard together all season and it was really special to share that moment with all my teammates as champions.
OA: My favorite Chapman memory is the “Walk down Wall Street” course. The month-long course gave me the opportunity to build relationships with some of my very gifted peers, many of whom now work on Wall Street in New York. The course taught us how to analyze CNN news, and anticipate the implications on the financial markets, and exposed us to a Wall Street culture during a week-long trip to New York. Professor Burnham designed an amazing course providing students with great opportunities and a truly special experience.
CU: Have you been involved with Chapman since graduating?
OA: Since graduating from Chapman I have stayed involved through mentoring Chapman football players and helping lead them on the sidelines on Saturday nights.
CU: Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Chapman Family?
AS: I’m truly blessed to be a part of the Chapman community. I couldn’t be more thankful for all of the amazing people Chapman has connected me with. Thank you to all of the dedicated faculty and parents who make it possible for students to attend Chapman. Go Panthers!
OA: To my Chapman Family, I would like to thank students and alumni, parents and professors for welcoming me into the Chapman community, and making my two years at Chapman memorable. Thank you for helping me mature as a person and grow intellectually. Students and fellow alumni, if there is any way that I can help you, please do not hesitate to email or reach out to me on Linkedin. Best of luck in your continued success!
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