When Ethan Conklin first stepped onto campus as a prospective student from New Providence, N.J., he didn’t know a single person – or much at all about NC State. But during an information session about Poole College of Management, he quickly fell in love with the university. So when a friend mentioned the Poole Student Ambassadors program to him his freshman year, he saw an opportunity to help students scoping out the college like he once did.
“When I learned more about who the Poole Ambassadors were, I realized that they played a major part in why I came to NC State,” Conklin says. “I wanted to do the same for other students deciding where to go to college, so I decided to join the program.”
Now, four years later, Conklin is president of the Poole Ambassadors – and he’s graduating with more relationships at Poole than he can count.
“I have met so many great fellow students, faculty members and advisors in my time here, and they’ve all had a profound impact on my life,” Conklin says. “Each and every one of them pushed me to be the best person I could be and helped me navigate acclimating to a new school and a new city. Looking back, I know these relationships and friendships will be what I remember most about my time at Poole.”
Devon Stepp, like Conklin, sees her role as a Poole Ambassador as an opportunity to help prospective students – especially out-of-state students like herself.
Stepp first met some of the Poole Ambassadors while touring NC State and attending potential student events. Once she learned more about the program, she thought it would be a unique way to give back to the college. Now, looking back, she sees how much the program has given to her, too.
“I consider the other graduating ambassadors and some of the younger ambassadors as some of my closest friends at NC State,” Stepp says. “A lot of us came from out-of-state and were looking for friends, and being in Ambassadors together allowed us to really bond.”
Like Stepp and Conklin, Poole Ambassador Elise Romola credits the ambassadors with playing a pivotal role in her decision to attend NC State. In fact, they convinced her to become a Poole Ambassador before she had even started as a student.
“My senior year of high school, I met some of the Poole Ambassadors at an admitted students event. They were all so down-to-earth and honest about their college experiences, and I felt that they all supported one another. That was the kind of environment I wanted in college,” Romola explains.
The Ambassadors program, Romola says, hasn’t let her down.
“It’s given me opportunities to highlight my experiences at Poole for prospective students, just like the former ambassadors did for me. There’s nothing more rewarding than working an ambassador event and then having students the following year remember my face and tell me I was part of the reason they chose NC State,” Romola says.
“I’ve also made some amazing friends. All of them – especially my fellow graduating seniors – are some of the most intelligent and coolest people that I’ve met in college. The atmosphere of Ambassadors is one of community, and it’s been an incredible experience.” she continues.
A Unique Environment
In their time with Poole Ambassadors, these graduating seniors have found that the program hasn’t only fostered new friendships – it has also been a unique environment to grow both personally and professionally.
“The group has helped me expand my professional network while simultaneously making some incredible friends,” Conklin says. “Since becoming a member and eventually president of the group, I have learned so many valuable skills – and I’ve learned so much about who I am as a leader and person.”
Additionally, the program has been a support system that has served the students throughout their college career – including their job hunt during a global pandemic.
“We’re each other’s support system and biggest fans,” Stepp says. “So we all helped each other during the Poole Career Fair – critiquing each other’s resumes during ambassador meetings and commenting on job opportunities we knew others would be a good fit for.”
“We all jump at the opportunity to help and encourage each other – it’s an awesome thing to be part of,” Conklin adds.
A Path Toward Success
Looking back, the seniors recognize how much their time in Poole has prepared them for the future.
“I found my internships at John Deere and Railinc at the Poole Supply Chain Career Fair, had my resume revised by the Career Center in the basement of Nelson and learned the ins-and-outs of supply chain and analytics in the classroom,” Stepp says. “And I’ve gotten through my college career with the help of my ambassador friends and other friends at Poole.”
Romola agrees, saying that the support she has received in Poole College has set her up for success.
“What I will remember most about my time in Poole is the community I felt whenever I stepped into Nelson Hall. Whether it was professors, staff or my peers, people always offered help and advice. I never felt like I was just a number,” Romola says.
Specifically, the graduating seniors celebrate the support of Bonnie Yarboro, Poole director of admissions and Ambassadors program advisor.
“When I was a student, Bonnie always remembered my name – and when I joined Ambassadors, she learned so much about my life. I think she knew more than some of my friends,” Stepp says. “She’s always been my biggest supporter. She provided me with opportunities to lead, helped me make connections with previous ambassadors and Poole students at the career fair, and even helped me negotiate my job offer. I owe my professional success in college to her.”
Romola, too, recognizes Yarboro’s unique impact on her college career.
“When I look back on my time in Poole, the first person I think of is Bonnie Yarboro. I first met her my senior year of high school during Park Finalist Weekend, and since then, she has been an advocate for me – connecting me with opportunities like serving on the Dean Nomination Committee and connecting me to alumni to talk about my career interests. Her door is always open to us, and her office is my favorite place to stop and steal some candy from while chatting about life. She is always there to support us as students and as people, and she has been the best resource I’ve found at NC State. To me, she represents what Poole is all about.”
Between the relationships they’ve formed, the opportunities they’ve been given and the skills they’ve developed in the classroom, these graduating ambassadors look to their next chapter of life with confidence.
“I like to say that Poole has prepared me for a career, not a degree. While I learned specific skills to my major and concentration, I also learned how to be dependable and be a leader in my new company. Many of my professors have real experience in their industries, and the way they integrate that experience into the curriculum is something I really appreciate,” Romola says.
“I also know that I will always have a network in Poole that I can reach out to – from my marketing professors to my peers,” she continues.
Looking ahead, the three seniors plan to go their separate ways. Romola will join Deloitte in Washington, DC as an analyst, Stepp will head to New Jersey to participate in Unilever’s three-year Future Leaders Program, and Conklin will join NTT Data Services in Charlotte as a business consultant.
This time around, though, Conklin will have a few familiar faces with him.
“I am extremely excited for the opportunity to work with such a great company and to live near some family. And I have the opportunity to work with another ambassador – so I’m pretty lucky.”
This post was originally published in Poole College of Management News.