From AmeriCorps to the Willamette MBA

by University Communications,

William Christiansen MBA’16 is pursuing his passion for the not-for-profit sector.

William Christiansen didn’t follow what you might think of as a conventional path to his MBA. After earning a B.A. in Sociology from The College of Wooster, he came out west to work in AmeriCorps.

For two years, Christiansen wrote grants, and developed and coordinated programs and events for a school in southern Oregon; “Everyone deserves to pursue their dreams and get encouragement to strive. I had help, and want to make sure that others get that, too.”

As his engagement with AmeriCorps wrapped up, Christiansen began to think about parlaying his experience into a graduate program. “My AmeriCorps supervisor had just graduated from Willamette’s MBA program, and raved about it,” he says.

On a trip up to the Atkinson Graduate School of Management’s Salem campus, he liked what he saw; “It reminded me a lot of my undergraduate experience: small classes, engaged teachers, and a well-rounded education. It felt familiar, even though I’d never been there before.”

Willamette’s proximity to the state capital added to the attraction. “When professors learned that I was interested in working in the non-profit or public sectors, they connected me with a number of opportunities.” Today, William volunteers for two non-profits. “It’s nice to apply aspects of what I’m learning in class while giving back to the community.”

Application has been a large part of Christiansen’s first year in the MBA program. The PACE (Public, Private and Community Enterprise) experiential learning program has been the most memorable so far. “It’s preparing me very well for the expectations of the working world: learning how to juggle multiple responsibilities; working with a large group with varying backgrounds; and refining my presentation skills at a level of detail that I know my boss will expect.”

Overall, the program is showing William the possibilities an MBA opens up, and preparing him for the the next step on his path.