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Governors State Offered Perfect Starter Course for Career Change

Richard Smolik, an alumnus of Governors State University who graduated with his Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies in 2011 and his Master of Business Administration in Supply Chain Management worked as an executive chef in famous kitchens across the world before switching to supply chain management.

He says he developed a recipe for success as a chef; however, the culinary world demanded too much time away from his wife and children so he decided to change careers. As a member of Governors State’s first graduating class for supply chain management, the university propelled him to his new career as the Transportation Manager for Fuchs Lubricants Co. in Harvey, Ill. Now, he welcomes the challenges of his new profession with confidence.

“My job as a head chef surely helped me become business savvy; however, Governors State taught me how to use information systems and expanded my ability to think critically, which left me more prepared for the business world upon graduation.”

Why did you choose Governors State?

Though the program was offered 100 percent online, I enjoyed the intimacy of the campus. At larger universities, it’s rather difficult to receive the attention and assistance necessary for students to grow and flourish because the classes are too large for a professor to allocate their efforts to every individual. This was never the case at Governors State. Every course I enrolled in had a teacher that was available—and willing—to answer all my questions and provide further guidance if needed. I was extremely fortunate to have gone to a university that had these types of resources and opportunities available to me.

What did you get from Governors State that you couldn’t have gotten anywhere else?

Obviously, the availability of Governors State’s professors was an impressive attribute of the institution, yet, the willingness and positivity of those instructors made the school’s operations stand out even more. Two teachers that were particularly helpful were Dr. Feng Tian and Dr. John Simon for their approachable personas and commitment to ensuring no student was left behind. The tutelage of these instructors definitely provided an experience unique to Governors State that I would not have received at another university.

What’s next for you professionally?

As of now, I am in the midst of acquiring two certifications that will help propel my career forward. First, I am currently working toward become a Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), which will verify my knowledge on how to streamline business operations; then, I plan on earning my CLTD (Certified in Logistics, Transportation, and Distribution). After earning both of these certifications, I will be further qualified in the field of supply-chain management.

How did your Governors State degree help advance your career?

If I did not receive my MBA from Governors State, I would not have been as eligible for my current role as a manager. Even though my degree was not required, it definitely set me apart from other candidates competing for the position. I had a lot of business experience from my many years as a head chef but it wasn’t until I received my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Governors State that companies took note of my credentials. After I was hired, my employers were incredibly impressed by my business acumen, which I owe to my career as a head chef and how the skills I acquired there were honed by my education at Governors State.

What are you most proud of when you look back at your Governors State experience?

Graduating summa cum laude was certainly a proud moment for me. Not only did I earn my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, but I did so towards the top of my class both times as well. Also, most importantly, I take great pride in advancing my career for my family. Overall, my family’s well-being was my primary motivation to go to Governors State; therefore, I appreciate that the university helped fulfill my desire to supply my wife and children with a better life.

What advice would you share with current Governors State students?

Persevere through it all because the end of the road is extremely rewarding. As long as you give an honest effort, you will not be disappointed with the outcome. Remember that life is about learning new things—so have an open mind. Additionally, business students should take the opportunity to learn information systems before they graduate; otherwise, they might get left behind.