What are our alumni doing?

Ethan Boelkins

Ethan Boelkins

Graduation Year: ‘20

Major(s) and minor(s): math major, digital studies minor

Post-grad education:


Current position: Contact Center Operations Specialist

Employer:  Wolverine Worldwide


The most helpful aspects of my undergraduate education in mathematics were: The math program had a large influence on my career path and ultimately the position I am in today. In general, studying mathematics helped me become a well-rounded problem solver and relentlessly detailed in my work. For example, writing proofs taught me to break problems down into more digestible pieces and then build toward the overall goal. In my career, I am often tasked with building a dataset or report but not given much detail other than the tools to make it happen. I lean on my problem solving skills to develop solutions one piece at a time while always having a clear view of the end goal in mind. Even though a lot of what I learned in upper level calculus and algebra doesn’t necessarily apply to the work I do now, the math program pushed me to think at a higher level that has paid dividends in my career.


There are a few classes in particular that have been most helpful in my career. Early in my undergraduate education, I took a computer programming class in which I learned the basics of writing in Python. That class taught me to be comfortable working with data in a programming language and opened my eyes to the wealth of career opportunities in the data analysis/science/engineering space. Naturally, a few years later I gravitated more toward applied mathematics. As a junior, I was part of a project-based class in which I worked with a team to develop data-driven solutions for our partners. That experience put me in real-world situations for the first time and exposed me to opportunities I never knew existed. I learned about project scope, useful technical tools, how to derive meaningful results from under-utilized data, and how to effectively communicate to an audience, all of which I do on a daily basis in my career.


The advice I’d offer to current undergraduate students in mathematics: My biggest piece of advice to any undergrad is to find what makes you excited to work hard and follow it until you find your place. No matter what you pursue, trust yourself and don’t be afraid to show what you can do. Mathematicians are unique and highly sought after!


A couple other things I’d advise any undergrad math student:


- Practice communicating technical results to non-technical people. Most people in the real world do not think the way mathematicians do. It’s important that you are able to communicate your thoughts effectively no matter the audience.

- Familiarize yourself with a programming language, or several! Even if you don’t write code for a living, there are tools out there that can make your life easier. Plus, streamlining tedious manual tasks is a fun job and will make you friends fast.

- Show you work hard and care about the details. The right people will notice.


In a typical day in my work, I: work in the operations side of the Consumer Relations department at Wolverine Worldwide, a global footwear and apparel company with brands like Merrell and Saucony. I support the managers of the company's contact center which handles all manner of customer interactions. Customers contact the company with their shoe-related needs through phone calls, emails, and online chats. One part of my role is supporting the contact center's workforce management tool, telecommunications system, and CRM platform. The rest of my role consists of developing operating systems, data engineering, and reporting. Wolverine is a complex business with many operating systems that generate a wealth of data. The majority of my role involves synchronizing the data held within our systems to give decision makers data-driven insights into their operations. With complex operating systems comes scattered data sources, and thus a need for a single source of truth. I develop data pipelines to move data from our various systems into a centralized location. With all our critical data in one location, it becomes much easier to develop reporting tools catered to all parties within the department. Making data more accessible also allows us to find key information that drives our decision making with confidence and speed. My role requires a combination of technical precision, creativity, and strong communication. Each of those attributes is its own challenge which makes my work both interesting and satisfying.

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Page last modified November 17, 2022