You don’t have to be an ambitious, motivated insurance major at Olivet College to land a full time job before graduation – but it helps. Hailey Willett is just that. As a senior Risk Management and Insurance (RMI) major with a minor in Journalism and Mass Media and Communication (JMC), she is one of a kind.
Unique in Every Way
Starting at Olivet College with a huge interest in journalism, Hailey thought she was destined to be a reporter. But, early on in her freshman year a few students in her dorm approached her about the RMI major and told her about Olivet’s unique foothold in the insurance industry.
“I ignored them until I realized there are a lot of options in the field. You don’t have to be an underwriter, or a claims adjuster, you could actually be a marketer and use communications skills. Plus, there is a 100% job placement rate! Once I learned that, I was sold,” said Willett. “I switched over to insurance the spring semester of my freshman year but kept JMC as a minor to use as a tool to find a marketing position in the insurance industry.”
Hailey’s experience at Olivet College is unique. She is the first RMI major to also minor in JMC, something she worked very closely with her professors on to ensure she was going down the correct path for her future.
“I am not following the typical track that my insurance peers are taking. But, it’s been fun working one-on-one with my professors, learning how I can showcase journalism skills in my insurance work.”
Professors that Make an Impact
Hailey has many insurance professors who also act as advisors. One of whom is Carol Breed, currently the director of the RMI department and retiring in the spring of 2016. Breed’s knack for understanding her students is something Hailey benefitted from during her time in Breed’s classes.
“Carol has really made a huge impact on me because she was one of the first insurance faculty members who understood where I was coming from, as far as where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. Because I had a different area of study than the rest of my peers, she and I worked closely together to find a direction that best fit my interests.”
But, it was more than Breed’s understanding that made Hailey admire her as an instructor. It was also her teaching style.
“Her way of instruction is always easy to understand, even if it’s a challenging concept,” said Willett. “If we were in a really challenging area of study, she would always break it down and be patient with us until we got it.”
Getting Involved with Peers
It was through the professional insurance fraternity Gamma Iota Sigma (GIS) that Hailey met many of her peers, learned valuable skills that prepared her for her future, and helped build her professional network. Now Officer of College & Public Relations for GIS, Hailey can reflect on her time spent there not only as a member, but also as a leader.
“Gamma helped groom me into a polished professional. It’s where I was able to gain my interviewing skills, resume building skills, and networking skills that I would not have gotten elsewhere. Plus, many insurance employers know about Gamma and will look for it on your resume. If they see it, they’ll immediately understand that you are an extremely involved student.”
Career Prep Through Internships
On top of the work experience she gained through GIS, Hailey also had the opportunity to intern in two different areas of the insurance industry. First for the Insurance Institute of Michigan and then for Frankenmuth Insurance.
“The summer after my freshman year, I was able to earn my first internship in Downtown Lansing with the Insurance Institute of Michigan. That was the perfect beginning internship because it melded my two areas of study”.
Her other two internships were with Frankenmuth Insurance, first as a general intern but then eventually she was able to negotiate a second internship focusing more on marketing.
“After that first summer, I enjoyed it so much that I applied for the next year. I wound spending half of my time in the marketing department and discovered that was the perfect fit for me.”
Landing Her Dream Job
With the combined guidance from a few friends, professors and mentors, Hailey has managed to snag her dream job months before graduation. And if you were to ask around, many other insurance majors at Olivet College could say the same.
“My internship was how I scored my fulltime job. It was basically my 13 week interview. Most everybody that I know in the insurance major have all received job offers. Those who work to have job offers always have at least a couple on their table. One of my best friends who graduated early last spring had 5 job offers.”
Advice for the Future
A different person now than she was as a freshman, Hailey is thankful for her experience she’s had at Olivet College and encourages incoming students to get as involved as possible.
“I would advise interested students, even if they aren’t sure but have an inkling of interest in getting involved in the insurance industry, to just dive in. Even if you are uncertain. I think if you take the plunge, you’ll find that there are endless opportunities!”
Hailey lives by what she says and has spent her time at Olivet College getting as involved as possible. Not only is she a member of GIS, but she’s also a radio station disc jockey for the Olivet College radio station WOCR, a member of the wind ensemble, the athletic band, and the Global Citizen Honors Program, as well as Copy Editor for the student newspaper, The Echo.
Catch Hailey’s show on WOCR every Thursday from 4 – 6 p.m. where she plays oldies music, “and even a little 80s now and then”.