Alumni of the Week: Natasha Olejar ’14

Version 2If you had told me just how much Syracuse University would shape my life, I never would have believed it. I chose Syracuse for two reasons: one was the beautiful campus that made me feel at home, and the second was all that Whitman had to offer. I can proudly say that I took advantage of almost everything on campus that piqued my interest, from being in the marching band, to joining a sorority, to helping a new batch of Whitman freshmen every year as a peer facilitator.

Before Whitman, I had no idea there was so much to the retail industry beyond what the customer sees in the store. I quickly declared my retail major, sure that this was what I wanted to do with my life. I was able to add a marketing double major shortly after, taking just a few more classes in Whitman rather than general electives. You are required to take a class in almost all of the majors (supply chain, finance, marketing, etc.) so, by the time you graduate, you end up with a well-rounded business degree. I laugh that supply chain and I did not get along in college, and now my role is essentially retail supply chain.

I work for The TJX Companies, the parent company of TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods. My team is focused on retail planning for TJ Maxx’s handbags and luggage departments, responsible for getting product to almost 1,200 TJ Maxx’s around the country.

Thanks to Whitman, I was able to gain exposure to a number of companies before choosing where I would start my career. I was encouraged to start attending career fairs as a freshman so, when it came time to choose my first job out of college, I had four years of experience talking to companies. Every group project in Whitman gave me a conversation topic in interviews, and every extracurricular activity provided an example of leadership and work ethic.

I always say that I could not have graduated without the help of Professors Ray Wimer and Amanda Nicholson. My friends in the other colleges would be shocked at how easily I would walk into my professor’s office hours and talk about classes, internships and post-graduation plans. Whitman offers all the help you need; you just have to ask.

My life has been immeasurably shaped by all that Syracuse and Whitman had to offer me. I continue to bleed orange as co-president of the Syracuse in Boston Alumni Club. I think it speaks volumes to Syracuse’s ability to make you feel truly at home for four years that its alumni are as involved post-graduation as they were as students. I will always be thankful for the experiences and knowledge I was given as a student, and I look forward to whatever comes next for me.

Natasha Olejar
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