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APUS Alumni Stories: Using Entrepreneurship to Create Job Opportunities

APUS Alumni Stories: Using Entrepreneurship to Create Job Opportunities

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Start an entrepreneurship degree at American Public University.

By Melanie Conner, APUS Alumni Affairs Liaison and Megan Oliveri, APU Graduate

Megan Oliveri entrepreneur APU
Megan Oliveri

Commencement 2018 was a happy occasion, where new graduates celebrated their hard work and connected with one another. That’s where I met APU graduate Megan Oliveri.

She and her wife were laughing throughout the weekend and her wife said to me, “She’s got a great story. You should hear it.” I connected with Megan shortly afterward and agree that she has a great story to tell.

Megan Oliveri graduated magna cum laude in November 2017 with a bachelor of arts in entrepreneurship. She’s a native of Florida and moved to Arizona after marrying her wife.

What have you been doing since you completed your bachelor’s degree from APU?

Since my course completion in November 2017, I made the decision to change employers after 10 years of service in May 2018. I saw that career journey through and hungered for new experiences.

I want to apply my learning to this new path I have created. This also includes creating a side business for myself that is definitely predicated on my bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship.

What is your career?

For the past 10 years, I was a Senior Account Manager in the pet space for a well-known pet food. This position was 75% travel, putting me in my home only three days a week. My role was to manage close to 200 accounts and 40-100 employees who were brand ambassadors for our brand inside pet retailers. I was also a liaison at the retail level to corporate.

I ended my decade run in May 2018. Almost a year prior to my departure, I started a foundation called “Head Up, Heart Open.” This foundation aims to create a supportive network to those living through complicated trauma as a result of losing a loved one to suicide, homicide and sexual assault. Turning the page after a decade of service at my company has allowed me to move forward in developing the foundation.

In July, I returned to work in a leadership capacity for a global banking and financial institution. There is very little travel.

Happily, I can sleep in my own bed AND still develop the foundation. I can’t think of a better win-win for myself. Thank you, APU!

In my side business, I am a writer who desires to be an accomplished author. I have started to seek independent writing jobs for various online news outlets.

I want to keep my writing skills sharp and developed. These skills are assisting me in writing my first book.

What inspired you to pursue a career in this field?

I was inspired to seek a degree in business entrepreneurship for a couple of reasons. First, this degree is universal. The program is structured so a student learns all the components necessary to run their own business.

Second, the courses also explore many well-known businesses and investigate their chosen models of business. Sometimes, those models aren’t always successful.

I have been a working employee for over 20 years. While I have experienced great business models and practices, I’ve seen that most companies have large gaps of opportunity.

There is a large part of me that says, “I know how to make this better. I know how to treat employees so much better. I know how to make employees want to get out of bed and be excited to come to work.”

How did you prepare to enter this field?

I really didn’t have any preparation; rather, I dove right in. Working in a leadership capacity and leading teams very much played a part in what I do. The company for which I worked for 10 years had an entrepreneurial feel and much autonomy in the way its leaders developed teams and conducted business.

Had I NOT enrolled in APU, specifically the entrepreneurship program, I wouldn’t have the HUHO Foundation today. My coursework pushed me to start the process.

In terms of completing my degree, I feel very empowered and self-confident that I could speak to the process of owning, operating and creating a business. Also, I am now educated in how to spot opportunities in other corporations.

In addition, APU’s coursework was phenomenal, linking well-known corporations to success stories, as well as companies with major opportunities that prevented scaling. The entrepreneurship program also had simulated and mock businesses students could create. The program is fantastic!

What are the biggest challenges that you face in your role?    

Working in a corporate leadership capacity, I feel my biggest challenges are developing creative ways to inspire employees. In today’s world, everyone is looking for the next big and shiny “thing.”

People are easily swayed. There is a lot of opportunity in the country right now. I feel loyalty is a rarity these days. 

What advice do you have to give to people seeking a career in your field?

My response relates to any field. Find a way to stand apart from the crowd. Once again, there is so much competition out there.

While I find it exciting to be a kid in a candy store regarding job opportunities, I am overwhelmed at times. The window of opportunity sometimes isn’t as wide open as you may think; instead, it’s merely opened a crack.

We are competing with thousands of other people for everything and anything. Always think, “Why would someone want me versus someone else?”

A good example is the title of my resume on LinkedIn: “Exceptional Human Being Trainee.” It’s a real attention-grabber for recruiters sourcing talent. In my quest to change employers, recruiters praise me for my title and I get the interview every time.

Finally, choose a career or employer with solid intentions. Never settle. If you do, you will find yourself on a job hunt every couple of years. Construct a well-designed, long-term plan for yourself first.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to binge-watch documentaries on Netflix, go to concerts and travel. I spend as much time doing it all with my wife and four fur kids.

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