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Home Is Where The Mind Is: Why Grand Valley Was Right For Elizabeth Blair


Elizabeth Blair ’09, ’12 wanted to find a school that had International Business as well as an MBA. She wanted to find a place that immediately felt like home, and she had to look no further than Grand Valley State University and the Seidman College of Business.

“I wanted to find a school that had International Business. Grand Valley’s program was very rigorous, and when I looked at the Seidman College of Business, I looked at the professors, how the classes were taught, and the class size. At Seidman, I could get individual attention. Having the professor available after class is not true of every school I considered. This program is what brought me to hold an internship with the U.S. Department of Commerce, and later at Steelcase. I was learning theory in class and getting to apply it to realworld situations. You can’t get much better than that.”

Elizabeth chose to enter Grand Valley’s full-time Integrated MBA (FIMBA) Program because it was connected to West Michigan companies, and she could finish in fourteen months. “That’s exactly what I was looking for, and it launched me into success.”

She quickly went on to hold another fellowship during her education through FIMBA. “It was wonderful to apply what I knew from class to work but also what I learned from work to class.”

Elizabeth tells that one of her most memorable experiences when she participated in an international student partnership with MBA students in China. “We traveled to China and met our peers face-to-face. It was one of the most impactful experiences I had because we had one-on-one time with our peers in a completely different society. We had some of the most honest conversations about education, government, and democracy. I’ll never have that chance again. Ever. It opened my eyes to what my peers in other countries think, and it broadened the scope of my learning.”

Another top memory of her experiences at Grand Valley took place at commencement. “We’re all standing there at the Van Andel Arena, waiting to walk in. My phone rings. It’s my boss from my fellowship. I’m thinking something terrible has happened. So I answer.”

What Elizabeth heard on the other end of that phone was the best news she could have received. “Well, Elizabeth, I have some good news for you. I wanted to let you know that we would like to hire you on full-time at Steelcase.”

For Elizabeth, “Having a job offer before I’d even walked through commencement was amazing! I owe it all to the internships, FIMBA, and the experience combined with the classroom study. I walked across the stage that day to receive my diploma and was filled with an immense amount of pride and joy as I had just received a job offer while waiting in line to graduate!”

“It’s important to support internships and fellowships because it’s an opportunity for students to take what they’re learning in the classroom and apply it directly to the real world. It builds up their education and SPRING 2015 | 11 their experience while they’re in school. Instead of starting at ground zero when they get their first job, they already understand how things are going to function. They’ve integrated what they’ve learned in the classroom to the real world,” says Elizabeth.

As ‘New Business Innovation, Senior Specialist’ at Steelcase, Elizabeth continues to thank Grand Valley’s Seidman College of Business for her lasting memories and incredible success.