Mary Unger planned a career search during her senior year just as she has approached most any other goal in life – with tenacity and creativity. And, the result of that search mirrors the results to many of her endeavors – success.
Unger, who will graduate May 14, has accepted an offer with Apple in Nashville, where she will be an associate in the Apple Store Leader Program. It is a 24-month immersion to learn every aspect of managing and operating an Apple retail store. At the end of the program, she’ll have the opportunity to secure a leadership position at one of the Apple stores anywhere in the world.
“When trying to figure out what I wanted to do after graduation, I had a variety of plans in mind, but I wasn’t sure specifically what I wanted to pursue … so I decided to just start looking around,” she said.
Slightly addicted to Google, Unger searched for the best companies for college graduates to start their careers. Lists of different corporations popped up, and she started applying for a variety of jobs last November. “The interviews I received all were mainly with larger corporations that offered programs for recent college graduates,” she said. “I started interviews in January, and I learned several new interview techniques that I used in later interviews.”
She also learned that she didn’t necessarily have to graduate with a specific degree from UT Martin; instead, companies considered her employment history throughout school, how active she was in organizations on campus and her overall grade-point average.
“It’ll be a great experience, not only to work with one of the most successful companies in the world,” Unger said of Apple, “but also be surrounded by interesting individuals who share my same interests and goals.”
Unger began at UT Martin as a biology major with a concentration in cell and molecular biology, hoping to pursue a career in the medical field. “This quickly changed when I realized that I had more of a creative side that I wanted to implement when thinking about my future career path.” She added, “I’ve always loved to write and interact with people, and I learned that those were two major factors in working in public relations.”
She’s also certain that she learned the skills necessary to help her succeed. “The main skill I’ve learned from UT Martin is how to communicate effectively in my future workplace and use my skills to be a successful leader in and outside of the office.”
The two extracurricular organizations from which she benefited the most were Alpha Delta Pi and the Student Government Association. “Going Greek made me meet so many new people, helped me grow as a person, and allowed me to be part of a family that I closely relate to and can stay connected with the rest of my life,” Unger said. “The Student Government Association not only let me connect to my peers, but it also allowed me to network with the administration on this campus. SGA works towards the betterment of the university, and I am so thankful to have been a part of it.”
While a student, Unger claimed a number of awards, including Outstanding Communications Student for two consecutive years and the Spring 2011 Beth Maloan Outstanding UT Martin Student Employee Award.
Unger also pursued several internships. As a political science minor, she thought it was important to gain experience in that field in case she decided to pursue a career in government or politics. During the summer of 2010, she interned with the Tennessee Democratic Party in Nashville and was allowed to help in the 2010 elections. “It taught me to not be afraid when speaking to anyone, and it also let me experience living in a different place.”
Her most beneficial experience was provided by the UT Martin Office of University Relations, where she worked as a student intern for two years. “It not only expanded my portfolio and taught me great skills in writing, but it allowed me to be surrounded by individuals that had similar mindsets and had the same passion for communications that I do,” she said.
Interaction with students and faculty and hands-on experience are things she will remember most about her college years. “The faculty members are so personal with their approach in teaching, and I think that gave me a better learning experience.” She added, “UT Martin gave me the opportunity to truly connect with all the individuals around me, while learning coursework that will be beneficial in my everyday life.”