Sam McGrath is Western Michigan University. A multi-generational Bronco, she is a third year student double majoring in Food Marketing and Business & Leadership strategy, and is highly involved on campus.
Sam is a student ambassador, an undergraduate research assistant for Professor Zondag, and a Food & Consumer Package Goods office assistant. That’s just what she’s currently involved in.
Since she was a child, her mother, who is a WMU alumna, said, Sam has been involved. “Even in elementary school she was on the student council. Sam has always been the president of something. It comes out of her desire to help and mentor others.”
Sam has also had her fair share of internships and student jobs. Needless to say she has some interesting internship stories.
One in particular was last fall when she interned for Ernest & Julio Gallo Wines in Chicago. While at a swanky product launch, she met Dave Phinney (Orin Swift, 8 Years in the Desert) and she also met Joe Gallo (E&J CEO) who reassured her, “Just be yourself and you’ll be alright. The fact that you’re here means you’re doing just fine.” Sam called her mom in hysterics. It’s not every day the CEO of a major company gives you props!
She gives a lot of credit to the food marketing program, which provides a variety of experiences from study abroad trips to networking opportunities, like the annual Food Marketing Conference, which brings more than 900 industry experts to campus. And because the program requires an internship, it’s the perfect place to find one (and it has a 99% placement rate to prove it).
“It’s a great way to get an internship and to network with employers,” Sam said. As an organizer of the event, she should know.
Sam has also studied abroad, spending a semester in Germany comparing the shopping habits of German and American shoppers. She also recently flew to San Diego, where she presented the results of research done at a local grocery store in Memphis, Tennessee and took second place nationally.
“My professors have helped shape where I want to go and the internships I’ve had help me gain an understanding of the industry,” Sam, who credits Professor Zondag’s mentorship as a major influence on her academic career, said.
In fact, Sam won Outstanding Student Leader of the Year at the Golden Bronco Awards, and will be President for the Food Marketing Association for the 2019/20 academic year.
After three years into her collegiate career, advice for first-year students comes easily.
“Get involved early and get involved often, and to fail quickly. Find some things you’re passionate about and try them all. That way you can figure out what you like and what you don’t like. Once you start putting yourself out there, you’ll meet like-minded people.”
Sam’s final bit of advice for incoming students is to keep an open mind. “You can make friends anywhere!”