Unexpected and Eye-Opening Opportunities
Rachael Veronda is a student in the Master of Business Administration program (MBA). She is also the graduate assistant in the Career Services office.
During my time as an undergraduate student at Niagara University, I knew early on that I wanted to go further with my education and pursue my master’s but wasn’t sure if I should wait or go right into it after graduating from my undergrad program. As an undergrad, I made sure to get myself involved in many different organizations and clubs which in time opened up endless opportunities for me to expand my knowledge beyond the classroom and for that, I am forever grateful. I also interned with a couple different respectable companies in the Buffalo area. After talking with different professors about my options when it came to the MBA program, I decided to apply along with a few graduate assistantships during my senior year of my undergraduate degree. A year and a half later and I am now pursing my master’s with a graduate assistantship in the Career Services Office!
While I was studying marketing as an undergraduate student, Niagara University’s Food & CPG Marketing program launched. At first, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go in that direction, but after talking with professors and learning more about the program, I decided to take advantage of this program and pursue this area of concentration. To my surprise, not only did I learn a lot from the classes I took, but there were many valuable opportunities I had outside of the classroom to learn more about this industry and the potential career opportunities there are.
One of my favorite experiences I had as an undergrad was when I had the opportunity to attend the IDDBA Trade Show in Orlando, Florida along with a few other colleagues and friends. IDDBA stands for International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association focused in the dairy, deli and bakery industries. The IDDBA show “brings together today’s leaders with tomorrow’s innovators to grow the future of their business.” As an attendee, I was able to gain insight and engage in one-on-one conversations with representatives from all different companies in the food industry from all over the world. While this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, I was hopeful to have another chance to attend something similar to this experience in the MBA program and to my surprise, I did.
In the fall of 2019 during my first semester in the MBA program, I had yet another incredible opportunity to attend the PLMA Trade Show in Chicago, Illinois. PLMA stands for Private Label Manufactures Association. This annual Trade Show allows retailers and wholesalers to come together and source for their private label programs. More than 1,300 companies from 40 countries had exhibits set up with their products along with 25 international pavilions. As a participant, I had the opportunity to meet industry leaders, participate in several lectures, seminars and luncheons related to the food and CPG industry.
As students, we were also paired up with an Exhibitor and a Retailer who served as mentors for us during the two day trade show. I was paired up with Rosina Food Products (Exhibitor) and Federated Group (Retailer). Not only did I have the chance to walk around with both of these mentors and listen in on one-on-one meetings but it gave me the opportunity to network with them and everyone they talked with. I’m sad these experiences are now only memories, but I’m so appreciative and fortunate enough to have had these opportunities that brought me so much value and insight in the food and CPG industry. It’s my hope that Niagara University will continue to pursue offering these opportunities both for undergrad and graduate students as I found them to be exceptionally invaluable and also makes a University like NU stand out from other colleges and universities when it comes to what it has to offer.
I have nothing but positive things to say about my overall experience I’ve had at Niagara both during my time as an undergrad and graduate student. From the opportunities I’ve had and the people I’ve met and made connections with, Niagara has definitely shaped me into the woman I am today and I am proud to see the progress and accomplishments I’ve made both personally and professionally throughout my time at Niagara.