Sara Khorramshahgol is from Centreville, Virginia and is graduating this Friday, May 15 with a dual degree in Business Information Technology with the Operations and Supply Chain Management focus and in Management with the Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Technology (EIT) concentration. She will be graduating with distinction, Cum Laude. Sara has an internship for the summer with MITRE as a Data Management Grad intern where she will be learning data governance tools for the federal government and this fall she will begin pursuing her master’s at Virginia Tech in the Pamplin College of Business’ Masters of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Business Analytics (MSBA-BA) program.

We recently asked Sara to share her journey and experiences at Virginia Tech with us.

Why did you choose Virginia Tech?  When and why did you choose MGT?

Like most others, I did not expect to choose Virginia Tech. I toured some colleges with my mom and Virginia Tech was the last school to visit on our list. I did a tour in September of my senior year of high school and like many others, I absolutely fell in love with Virginia Tech. I know many people say this, but the campus and atmosphere are unlike any other. Touring the school, the students were so friendly and cheering “let’s go…Hokies” during my tour and many people kept saying “go Hokies”. I absolutely love the school spirit. It truly is unlike any other and I fell in love instantly. I told myself I could see myself spending the next four years here and on the drive home from Virginia Tech, I remember telling my mom “I want to apply Early Decision here, this is my school”. I had another school in mind but visiting Virginia Tech blew me away.

I chose the MGT major coming in as a freshman, but I had no clue which concentration to choose. All the options for the MGT major were appealing to me. I specifically chose the EIT concentration because my father has a car business and I wanted to gain the skills needed to be an entrepreneur as this major would give me the foundation to one day run a part of my dad’s business in the future or become an entrepreneur myself.

Were there any specific classes that you remember as validating your major choice to date?

MGT 3064-Cornerstones of Entrepreneurship was a course that validated my decision to pick EIT. I was unsure which concentration to choose from within the MTG major, but I took MGT 3064 and loved the format of the class. I also enjoyed MGT 4064 as it was applying the concepts from MGT 3064. I enjoyed MGT 3064 as I learned the reality of starting a business and the concept of GRIT. GRIT isn’t just used for starting a business but heavily applies to academics and finding a job as well.

The Pamplin College of Business is unlike any other. It really prepares you for what to expect and sets you apart from others when you start your career.

Has there been a faculty member or staff member within Pamplin and/or the MGT department that has served as a mentor or source of inspiration for you during your journey? 

There have been many professors I have had that have shown how much they care for students and serve as inspiration. The first that comes to mind though is Reed Kennedy. I was a shy freshman, but I wanted to try something out of my comfort zone during my freshman year. I love to travel and a goal of mine going into college was to do a study abroad with Virginia Tech. I looked at the programs and went to the Pamplin study abroad fair during my freshman year and I met Reed. I wanted to go to Australia because the program looked perfect for me. I studied abroad during my freshman year in the winter and it’s been one of the best memories out of my four years at Virginia Tech. Throughout the years, I’ve kept in touch with Reed and he’s always been supportive of my accomplishments.

What advice would you provide to an incoming Pamplin freshman? 

Do not be discouraged if you face rejection/failure! Rejection/failure is where you learn the most about yourself and learning how to be better. I was rejected by clubs/leadership positions, but I learned what I can do to make myself better. I think students tend to strive for perfection, but really take the first semester/year to learn about yourself, what you like/interests, and building your brand.

Use your resources. There are so many resources Virginia Tech and Pamplin offers to its students. For example, if you have trouble with interviews, go to the Career Center, and schedule a mock interview. This really benefitted me as someone was able to provide constructive feedback on what I should focus on saying or what I should not say. In addition, the Smith Career Center reviews your resume as well. The career center offers plenty of opportunities, but these are just a few examples!

Go to Business Horizons freshman year. Go for practice. I went in the fall and you will be discouraged because companies will reject you. However, it is great practice in building your elevator pitch, handshake, and punctuality. When I went to Business Horizons during my sophomore year, I was more confident and prepared to know which companies I wanted to talk to.

What/who is your inspiration for leadership?  

Michelle Obama raised from the South Side of Chicago is my inspiration for leadership. I read her memoir “Becoming” and I was in awe. I also love watching her commencement address in 2012 at Virginia Tech as a source of inspiration when I need it. I have learned from her memoir to really focus on something that is close to your heart. She found her true calling which is promoting service. I think in today’s world it is easy to forget to respect others and people’s opinions. Michelle Obama’s leadership has shown a high level of respect for others and this is something leaders need to uphold. She finds a way to connect with people by sharing her personal story and using it to empower each other. She is an effective communicator who speaks with confidence and with a sense of conviction. This is important for leaders to be open, so employees or peers can feel comfortable with you and I strive to be.

If you could give a testimonial about Pamplin and/or the Management Department, curriculum - what would you say?  

The Pamplin College of Business is unlike any other. It really prepares you for what to expect and sets you apart from others when you start your career. When I interned with Deloitte, there were many Hokies. The other interns from other schools noticed that they were exceptionally more Hokies than other interns from their school and I believe that builds a high reputation for Pamplin. It shows Pamplin’s curriculum sets us apart from other schools and teaches us the practical skills needed for success.

Name some of the internships, if any, that you had during your Virginia Tech and/or Pamplin journey.

I was fortunate to land an internship after my freshman year at my mother’s job. My mother works for the federal government and at the time I was a Management major interested in learning more about Human Resources. I interned in the human capital department where I learned about payroll, had the opportunity to shadow some people, and reviewed some applications as well. I enjoyed my time there, but after shadowing people I learned I wanted to do something related to project management or operations. This internship allowed me to explore what were my interests and from this internship, I learned I wanted to add BIT as a major. I wanted to integrate technology skills with management so I could become a well-rounded effective leader in the workplace.

I interned with Deloitte for two summers and I was able to apply concepts I have learned from BIT and MGT classes to my internship. One of the things I was tasked to do is to create an Integrated Master Schedule for the client using MS Project where I prioritized tasks and identified milestones. I even had to write a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), which is something I already knew from my PQL class. I had to help with proposal writing as well, and from group projects and reports, I was able to utilize my writing skills to help my manager with the proposal.

Please provide a brief summary of your summer internship - who, when, how did you approach the process?

I was fortunate to land an internship with Deloitte for two summers and receive a full-time offer after graduation. I went to the Deloitte booth at Business Horizons my sophomore year. In addition, I went to their resume review session, Deloitte Expo, and when they had a company visit in the Pamplin atrium. I really took the advantage whenever they were at VT to network with the analysts and to talk to the recruiter.

As mentioned earlier, during one summer at Deloitte, I was tasked to prioritize tasks and milestones for the client by creating an Integrated Master Schedule (IMS) using MS project. Throughout the summer, I worked week by week with my manager by assisting in multiple federal proposals to specifically write a Quality Control and Transition Plan for a client. Another week, I was tasked to research different platform capabilities and to assemble a presentation to help managers make an informed decision for a potential client. In addition, I was also tasked to use VBA to convert data from one Excel workbook to a master workbook.

During my first summer internship with Deloitte, I helped create an enterprise tool to ensure delivery for the warfighters. I did this by helping produce a set of refined metrics and developing a data visualization using excel. I helped the Deloitte team create 88 metrics and created a report on the metrics and incorporating the agile methodology. I was able to present to the Program Management Officer (PMO) of the client on my accomplishments from my summer internship. The PMO oversees the federal project and it was a huge honor I was able to present to her since she is a busy woman. During my summer internship at Deloitte, the interns had to present to senior managers, principals, and other interns our summer internships and the lessons we learned. In addition to presentations, the interns flew to Deloitte University, a training facility in Dallas, TX, where we did reflection exercises on our summer internship, team building, and service projects. This was an event where commercial and GPS interns across Deloitte’s consulting practice interacted with each other. I met students from across the U.S. and did team-building exercises with them. The facility was lovely and there is FREE Starbucks!

What are your plans after your senior year? 

I will be pursuing my master’s at Virginia Tech in the MSBA-BA program. I thought this program is a great opportunity to learn data visualization techniques with also business administration. With all that is going on, I was fortunate to still have an internship for the summer with MITRE as a Data Management Grad intern where I will be learning data governance tools for the federal government.

One last thing I would like to mention is a student organization I have become passionate about. Five of my friends and I started an organization at the end of our junior year called POWER. We noticed there is not an organization in Pamplin that is focused on underrepresented students and minorities. We know there are ALPFA and NABA, and others, but we wanted an organization that brings together all minorities and underrepresented students focused on professional development, network with other students, and connection to resources. We are very excited about the interest and support we received from Pamplin faculty about the potential of our new organization. We are very excited to have a new leadership team to pass down our legacy and something I hope to see continue many years at Virginia Tech. I am thankful for the support from my friends who put the effort and time into making this happen and again, the faculty members who are excited as much as we are for starting a new organization.