Embracing a strategic vision
A goal-oriented professional, Gjerji Ndoci ’19 set himself up for success since the beginning of college. Emphasize the importance of networking, but Gjerji also doesn’t forget to advise current to build long-term relationships based on genuine common interests.
What attracted you to Beloit College?
Spending 4 years in an American-based high school introduced me to the American culture and its way of thinking. It taught me about self-reliance and self-motivation to always strive for a better way, and it sparked my interest in obtaining my college experience there. That and the liberal arts education offered by Beloit College were the reasons why I chose Beloit as my 4-year destination. At Beloit, I was able to form close relationships with professors and staff and engage in various extracurricular activities. Beloit’s full-tuition scholarship was also part of my decision back then.
As an international student, did you find it challenging to navigate college life?
I think, anytime that one has to move to an unfamiliar environment (In this case, for domestic students, it was moving to a different state and for international students, it was to a new country) poses certain obstacles. For the first few weeks, it was not easy to get adjusted. However, thanks to Beloit’s cross-cultural environment, I was able to quickly get involved in multiple on-campus organizations like the International Club and Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE). In terms of academics, I knew what I wanted to pursue before college, so most of my freshman time, I was trying to go in-depth in Economics and Mathematics courses instead of wandering and exploring various departments.
With a clear vision of your career pathway, could you share with us your journey to achieve that goal?
I started obtaining hands-on experience from early on. The summer after my freshman year, I interned in the Marketing and Customer division at DLG Naturals. I benefited considerably from this first-year internship in terms of hands-on work in a professional setting.
People say that Greek life is a great way to not only build lasting connections but also to gain leadership and management skills. Do you agree with this statement, and could you share with us your personal experience at TKE?
I think the experience I had with TKE was one of the most valuable of my time in Beloit in which I leaped at an opportunity to grow and learn as a leader. I was appointed to be the President of TKE in the 2nd semester of my sophomore year. The position placed a huge responsibility on my shoulder as TKE was facing some financial challenges. I had to learn how to manage a group of almost 50 people. I learned how to control our financial budget for lodging, and logistics while maintaining the overall experience for the organization. And I’m proud to say that TKE did overcome its hard time with funding raised from alumni to meet all due liabilities.
What are some of the academic achievements you are most proud of in a sophomore year?
I was able to balance both my education and extracurricular involvement and I would say finding a fine line between the two is critical in terms of a successful college experience. At the end of my sophomore year, I received an award for outstanding sophomore Economics majors for having an excellent academic record. I also successfully secured an internship at Blackhawk Transport in the summer after my second year.
Both of your internship experiences were from very big-name companies in the Wisconsin area, so could you share with us the process of obtaining those?
I got both of my internships through my network connections. Beloit, the city, is covered with ample opportunities for students to network and talk with managers of big firms in different industries. Knowing that there were ample opportunities outside of Beloit, I planned to present myself to Beloit, meet as many people as I could, and create my chance. My Blackhawk Transport internship kicked off with me meeting the organization’s CEO at a Beloit city event.
You have mentioned the importance of networking in your case; however, many students still struggle to present themselves and build connections. Do you have any advice for them?
For me, the idea of networking is not that you talk to a person in exchange for an internship or a job. It is about how you build a long-term relationship with the person you talk to based on your genuine common interests. My advice to those who are struggling is to keep everything natural and casual. You will build a conversation based on shared interests, and then, you set up the discussion so that by the end of the talk, it is the other person asking you for a follow-up.
How did Beloit help you with your career development, especially in your senior year?
Beloit College does a very good job at giving the students hands-on experience and preparing us to understand how businesses operate and interact within society through the Duffy Partnerships program. I was involved all of my senior years in Duffy, in which I interned at ABC Supply Co. Inc. and Hendrick Holdings Company Inc. Given the exposure to real-world businesses, I gained plenty of practical applications and industry-related knowledge. Through courses, major-related activities, and TKE leadership experiences, Beloit College has prepared me with a critical-thinking mindset. That mindset helps me understand the process of justifying and leveraging any problems I have encountered.
What is your current job? What was the process of your landing that job? Could you share with us some of your responsibilities at work?
I’m currently working as an Associate at Hendrick Holdings, where I interned in my senior year. Back in my senior year, I got offers from multiple companies, and Hendricks Holding Company was one of them. Having witnessed in person through my internship Hendrick’s mission-driven culture and the corporation shareholder - Diane Hendricks’ vision, I chose to stay with Hendricks. At Hendricks Holding Company, I’m involved in overseeing and consulting the company’s subsidiaries regarding operational and financial risk management and any material financial and tax-related issues that arise during the conduct of business such as raising capital and income tax audits.
After 4 years of experience, what advice would you give to Beloit’s current students?
Do not limit yourself to your comfort zone. Try to explore opportunities in and outside of Beloit College. At the same time, try to maintain your academic records because having tons of extra-curriculums does not compensate for your technical knowledge. Networking helps you get your foot in the door, but knowledge helps you stay.