The Business of Aiming High: Jennifer Miller ’12
“It’s better to aim too high and miss than to aim low and hit.” This is Jennifer Miller’s mantra—a message she embraced as a leader in her high school ROTC program in Dunkirk, NY.
She has continued to live up to her credo at Wells. As an intern, she advised the Wells President and other leaders on their institutional real estate holdings. As a student leader, she is driving efforts to find a sustainable revenue source for a school in Kenya. She has also soaked in new cultures by studying abroad.
“I want to make sure I’m ready for employers to look at me and say ‘she’s going to be an asset to this company. She has a lot of potential for advancement.’ I’m always thinking about building up that resume!” she says.
One major achievement was an internship in which she conducted market research and devised strategy related to Wells’ real estate holdings. Guided by Bob Ellis, director of the Center for Business and Entrepreneurship at Wells, Jennifer helped develop a much needed plan for the College to maximize the value of several properties it owns in Aurora. Jennifer worked with three other students to gather data through online research, site visits, and interviews to compose recommendations to the College President, key Trustees, and other leaders at Wells as to whether they should sell or repurpose the real estate.
“I learned how to take initiative and work effectively in a group to reach a common goal,” she says, adding that she was honored to present her ideas to “big names” on campus.
Jennifer is also applying business concepts from class to solve a funding problem for a school in Africa. As the president of Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE), she is leading a group of students to develop a sustainable business strategy for the Jamba Jipya School and Orphanage in Kenya, so the school can generate earned revenue rather than relying solely on charitable contributions.
Her SIFE project is giving Jennifer exposure to a very different culture than the one she encountered first-hand studying abroad. While studying in Sterling, Scotland in the fall of 2010, she immersed herself in the Scottish culture as well as her economics, business and management courses. “I grew so much for the experience,” she says. “I learned that no matter what the situation, I can handle it.” She reports that about one-third of Wells students go abroad, in part because Wells helps to make it affordable. “So many of us want to travel, see what else is out there, and try new things. I saw it as a great opportunity, and I only needed to cover my personal expenses,” she says.
A highlight of her junior year was her “Innovation” class, a hands-on course in “design thinking” that develops creative problem solving skills and encourages students to build low-tech prototypes to help develop their ideas. Professor Tracy Brandenburg teaches this methodology, which is currently only taught at Wells College and Stanford University. “Her energy is so darn contagious,” says Jennifer of Professor Brandenburg.
During her senior year at Wells, Jennifer plans to write her thesis on women in business and apply for admission to MBA programs.