“College is for four years, but it is preparing me for the rest of my life,” says marketing and finance double major Erin Coburn. The sophomore from Libertyville, IL hasn’t wasted any time working toward “the rest of her life” either. As a new freshman, she donned a brand new business suit and summoned the courage to attend a networking reception hosted by Union Pacific at the railroad’s headquarters.
Coburn had only been in school a month. “I had no idea what to expect when I walked through the doors,” she recalls. “I remember telling myself over and over in my head: Put yourself out there. So that is what I did.” She approached employees, made eye contact while shaking their hands and asked questions. From that moment on, Coburn knew she wanted to work for the Fortune 500 Company one day.
So she attended the UP fall reception her sophomore year, stopped by the railroad’s booth during the campus career fair and networked at its soccer game tailgate. The more she learned about Union Pacific, the more she knew its mission, culture and people were what she was looking for in an employer. “I wanted an internship with them, and I wanted them to know it,” Coburn states.
Mission accomplished. This summer, Coburn will remain in Omaha to intern in Union Pacific’s Human Resources Department. She is excited to learn about the operational differences between a large corporation and smaller companies. For two years, Coburn was the general manager of a Little League concession business in Illinois where she was responsible for vendor relations, managing the schedule and payroll and training 10 paid associates and parent volunteers for the $50,000-plus seasonal concession business.
At the same time, Coburn worked two other internships. She got a taste for the non-profit world as an intern for Passion Outreach, a Chicago-based organization that mentors disadvantaged youth in North Chicago. The job introduced her to all aspects of non-profit organizations, from marketing to fundraising. She also developed content for weekly blog-posts and updated social media for Benjamin Realty last summer.
Coburn sees the Union Pacific opportunity as a way of rounding out her internship experiences by adding a large corporation to her resume. Her interview preparation was multi-faceted. Based on previous experience, she expected situation-based questions and had a few answers ready. She researched UP’s current projects to demonstrate company knowledge and decided on a few highlights from her resume that would distinguish her from other interviewees.
Having made it through the first round of on-campus interviews, she was called into to UP’s headquarters for the second round. She admits that nerves play a natural part of any interview, but she actually enjoys the process: “I view them as a conversation with someone who wants to get to know you better.”
But she also knew she was well positioned to succeed. Coburn has discovered that “Creighton is a small school with big opportunities” during her two years here. She cites multiple tours of Fortune 500 companies, networking opportunities like the Creighton Business Symposium, etiquette dinners and resume honing sessions at the Career Center as future career-advancing opportunities.
Says Coburn: “I am confident and ready to venture into society as an agent of positive change,” and she will do just this at Union Pacific this summer.