College of Business graduate Chelsea McWilliams campus encounters — student orgs, career fairs, class certifications and more — have helped her create a path toward success
With a full-time position lined up at General Motors’ headquarters and a strong understanding of the finance field, McWilliams said she’s prepared for what’s next.
Growing up, Chelsea McWiliams said a loud, excited voice could often be heard from her family living room — Jim Cramer’s. Her father enjoyed watching CNBC Mad Money.
Although a young McWilliams wasn’t sure what to make of the boisterous host’s style, what Cramer presented intrigued her.
“As a kid, all the lines and numbers were hard to grasp, but I wanted to understand. I started gravitating toward opportunities to gain knowledge about finances — school T-shirt sales, class treasurer, charity event planning — with the goal of getting a better understanding.”
Now with a finance degree and a fulltime financial analyst position in General Motors corporate office lined up, the winter 2019 College of Business graduate now has that understanding: “The finance field is even more complex than I could have ever imagined. I think that’s what I love about it.”
McWilliams — who is Bloomberg Certified, thanks to her FIN:461 course — said her campus experiences helped her gain the knowledge she needed. But not only on how to help others make money, but on how she can do that too. She picks up her phone and points to Robinhood, a free stock trade app.
“As a college student, I don’t have too much to put into it at this point. But I’m applying what I’ve learned. So far, I’ve been pleased with the results.”
Also happy with the results of McWilliams’ expertise is GM, where she previously had an internship.
Last summer she served as a GM manufacturing financial analyst intern for their consolidation team. This involved travel to many plants in Michigan and communication with plants across the U.S. Canada and Mexico.
“I worked cross functionally with 47 manufacturing plants to update budget forecasts of $11 billion. Yes, $11 billion. I never thought I would have had an opportunity like that when I first started college,” she said. “When I was at GM, I helped establish a database that records scrap data — believe it or not, there’s a lot of money in scrap — that can be updated and accessed by any plant across the country.”
McWilliams said that internship connection came from a COB Career Services Fair in the Fairlane Center South hallway. She stopped by the GM table on the way to class.
“Class was about to begin, so I almost didn’t stop because I didn’t want to be late. But the table was right there and I know GM is a good company. I weighed the So I thought, ‘what do I have to lose?’ I suppose that was my way of weighing the risks,” she said. “I’m so glad I stopped. That brief meeting led to an internship and now a position I’m really excited about.”
That wasn’t the only time campus resources and networking helped McWilliams connect to an internship opportunity. A Career Services portal led to a sales internship with Cisco after McWilliams’ freshman year. And a fellow Alpha Kappa Psi Business Fraternity member — McWilliams was a four-year member of AKPsi and served on the executive board — shared a MAHLE internship posting that McWilliams landed as a sophomore.
“UM-Dearborn didn’t just give me finance lessons, it also gave me professional opportunities that led to personal growth. It’s kind of surreal to look back on past four years and look at progression I’ve made in my work ethic,” said McWilliams, who just finished a year-long internship with TRUMPF, a manufacturing solutions company. “The No. 1 thing I’ve learned is to be proactive. Instead of wondering ‘what can I do?’ and waiting for direction, I now evaluate what needs to be done and do it. Time is valuable — this is true at both work and at home.”
With that in mind, the 2019 Dean’s Scholar Award recipient, who said she always wanted a Michigan degree. And, reflecting back on her time at UM-Dearborn, said it has an outstanding ROI.
“At UM-Dearborn, I got personalized attention from my professors, connections to great internships, and classes that showed me how I can make money for stakeholders and for myself,” she said. “I just belong here. Even though I’m graduating, my path and what the future brings will always be positively connected with my campus.”