Rutgers Student Profile: Sterling Johnson

sj1Hometown: Franklin Township, NJ

Major: Marketing & Economics

Year: 2014

Major Interests: Saxophone Performance, The City (Chicago specifically), All Forms/Styles of Music, Overall Pursuit of Excellence

First and foremost, what made you want to attend Rutgers-New Brunswick? You were always a very academically-gifted student so I’m sure you had plenty of other choices. Was RU your first choice?

Back in high school, Rutgers actually wasn’t my first choice.  In those days, I aspired to live in New York City, and I saw college as the fast track to getting there.  I applied to NYU and Fordham, among other schools, and was accepted into every university I applied to.  However, Rutgers made the most financial sense since I received a good scholarship.  I’ve never regretted my decision to come here, I’ve had so many opportunities and experiences that I could have only had at Rutgers, and I am sure I would not be in the position that I am in now without RU.

Prior to being admitted to the Rutgers Business School, did you always know you wanted to major in something business-related or did business just happen to seem like the right choice?

I’ve always had an interest in business. I had the good fortune of having a great teacher in high school who inspired me to take all the business courses that my high school provided – Ron Richter, who also teaches Finance at Rutgers.  I was also extremely interested in music throughout high school.  I played saxophone for 10 years, and loved it.  I considered applying to Mason Gross, but decided to keep saxophone as a hobby and make business my career.

In my opinion, the biggest achievement of your college career is the fact you’re currently the President of the Rutgers Business School (Rutgers Business Governing Association). Talk a little about how you achieved the position and how being the President changed your college experience.

I initially applied for, and was accepted to be a part of the Rutgers Business Governing Association (RBGA) as a PR Chair during my sophomore year.  I honestly just wanted to be a part of an organization that was business focused and allowed me to use my skills as a Marketing major.  I quickly became extremely involved with RBGA through helping with the planning and execution of events, and found out RBGA was much more than a resume builder – I had a real voice that was respected and listened to, and I was always up to date with new initiatives and opportunities that the business school provides.  So, I stuck it out and was inaugurated at President at the end of my junior year.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many amazing, driven, and passionate people from my time in RBGA.  Most people call it “networking,” but I just consider it making new friends, and learning from others’ experiences.  One of my favorite parts of being President is being able to connect with Presidents and students leaders from all areas of Rutgers through the Vice Chancellor’s Leadership Council, in which we discuss Rutgers University policy and advise the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Felicia McGinty.  At the end of the day, my main goal is to help out RBS in any way that I possibly can, being President of the governing association puts me in a position to be able to do so.

As the President of the Business School, what are a couple of things you campaigned for or had an executive hand in since your term began?

Increasing communication in between RBS organizations as well as communication from those organizations to RBS students has been one of my major goals.  RBGA has connected with Presidents of these organizations, and spread the word on social media to RBS students about great events that they hold throughout the semester.  So far, this has been effective.  RBGA just had our first major event of the year, the Soft Skills Conference, on September 19th. There was a fantastic turnout, and students were educated on “soft skills,” like public speaking and networking, that they’ll need to be successful in their careers.  Executives from Kaplan and Deloitte were also in attendance, it was an extremely successful event.

In general, I want to ensure that the RBS community is aware of all the amazing opportunities that the Business School has to offer.  There is, without a doubt, an untapped network of resources that students have at their disposal.  I’m making sure that students are benefiting from it.

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For people who don’t know, you interned in Chicago for Proctor & Gamble this summer which is the number one consumer packaged goods company in the world and at the end of the internship, they extended you a job offer. Share a little bit about how you acquired the internship and what you cherished the most about the experience.

First off, interning in Chicago was one of the best experiences of my life.  The city is absolutely beautiful (much better than NYC in my opinion) and the friends I met there were amazing.  There was always so much to do: whether it be shopping on State Street, going to free concerts at Grant Park, heading to the lake/beach, or going to Navy Pier, I was never bored.  I can’t wait to go back and visit.

P&G (Proctor & Gamble) was just as fantastic.  Initially getting the position was definitely a process. After many rounds of interviews, and flying out to Cincinnati (where P&G headquarters is located) for even more interviews and tests, I finally secured a position in the Customer Business Development function of P&G during my junior year.  My job was to work with my retailer, K-Mart, to sell in and develop programs for P&G brands.  I worked on a many brands over the summer, but mainly Bounty, Charmin, and Puffs.  At the end of the summer, I alone was able to bring in a projected $3 million in net outside sales (which pretty much means profit) from the projects that I spearheaded over the summer.  It was an extremely rewarding, challenging, and exciting experience, and I loved it so much that I’ll be returning to P&G upon graduation in a new city – hopefully Boston.  Making new friends from around the country was definitely my most cherished experience.  Traveling throughout the Midwest and meeting new people was a great experience, and I’m extremely appreciative that P&G allowed me to do so.

How was the Chicago lifestyle compared to the culture of New Jersey? Did you find yourself having enough time to appreciate the city and its vast amount of tourist attractions?

First and foremost, I was in Chicago to work, sometimes I found it hard to take time to explore the city and do “touristy” things with the long hours I worked, but I always made time during the night/over the weekend to do something fun.  Summertime in Chicago is indescribably fun, and MUCH better than New Jersey.  One of my favorite experiences was going to Taste of Chicago, which is a week long festival featuring the vast array of foods found all over Chicago.  The music scene is pretty big in Chicago – at The Taste, I was able to see one of my favorite groups, fun., perform. Chicago also has some of the nicest bars/lounges that I’ve ever seen; much better than New Jersey.  Over the weekend, my friends and I would always go up to Wrigglyville, which is one of Chicago’s hot-spots for nightlife, and go barhopping.  We had a few favorites like Sluggers and Barleycorn, but we generally went to new spots every weekend.  I really miss having new experiences on a daily basis and beautiful city of Chi-Town.

With your degree and background in business, would you ever see yourself opening your own business or becoming a full-time entrepreneur?

To be honest, I’m not sure.  I’m absolutely in love with P&G, so I see myself being there for a very long time.  However, its always been a small dream of mine to open my own bar, so if the stars align and the opportunity presents itself, maybe I’ll do it sometime in the future.

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Outside of your career field of marketing and economics, what’s something you want something to dedicate time to once you graduate?

I’m a big music lover. Like I mentioned, I played saxophone for years, and it was something that I was very passionate about.  College has been extremely busy for me, and I’ve unfortunately not had the time to keep up with my passion for music performance.  Upon graduation, I’m definitely going to re-commit myself to making music on a daily basis.

Personally, why do you feel economic literacy is important to the everyday college student as well the everyday citizen?

Funny that you ask that question. I believe that financial/economic literacy is extremely important, ESPECIALLY for college students.  With most students graduating with debt, it is of utmost importance that students know how to manage their finances throughout college and upon graduation so that they don’t find themselves in a hole that they can’t get themselves out of.  In order to teach financial independence, RBGA has been working with Director of Development for Rutgers Business School, Dina Anello, on bringing in a series of Financial Literacy Seminars to Rutgers-New Brunswick.  These seminars will cover a variety of topics regarding financial independence that can be applied not only to college students, but to the everyday person.  Feel free to contact me (sterlingjohnson23@gmail.com) if you want to know more/attend a seminar.

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You’re going to graduate with pretty damn reputable degree and a great starting job, would you opt to go to grad school or are you done with school once you achieve your Bachelor’s degree?

Good question. The decision of whether or not to go to grad school is something that has recently been on my mind.  Although self-improvement and continuous learning is important to me, right now, I’ve had enough of school, at least for a little while.  However, I’m lucky enough to be employed at a company that will help me go to grad school if I opt to do so.  If in the future I find that pros outweigh the cons, I might have to consider it.  Right now, I just want to focus on getting through the rest of the year!

Another achievement of yours is that you’re a member of Delta Sigma Pi which is known around campus for exclusively being the “business frat”, explain your motivation behind wanting to become a member which I’m sure is more stress added to an already strenuous course load.

I’ve been a brother of Delta Sigma Pi, “America’s Foremost Professional Business Fraternity”, since Fall of 2011.  Initially, I went out to rush DSP simply because my friends were going.  However, I quickly saw the benefits of becoming a brother: lifetime brotherhood, networking opportunities, and a big social aspect of the Rutgers chapter quickly drew me in.  I know people assume that being in business fraternity means all work and no play, but this is far from the truth.  I’ve made my best friends in DSP, and my life at Rutgers would not be the same if I hadn’t become a brother.  I don’t consider being in DSP a stress like school or work – I have a family of successful individuals that have my back, and I love devoting my time to the betterment of the fraternity.  I also gained professional skills that have been main contributors to why I am in the position that I am in my life.  I’ve gained so much from DSP, and it was definitely one of the best decisions that I’ve made during my years here.

It’s obvious that you achieved a lot during your tenure at Rutgers, what you say has been your most rewarding experience and what words of advice would you give students who are looking to flourish in their time here at the University?

It’s very hard to choose one experience that was the “most” rewarding.  Being sworn in as President of Rutgers Business Governing Association was a pretty cool moment for me since it symbolized all the hard work that I had done and continue to do.  Also, being initiated into DSP is something that I’ll never forget. In general though, I appreciate the small things.  All the little moments that everyone has that collectively makes up their Rutgers experience should be appreciated and cherished.

My advice to students wanting to make the most out of their time here is to, above all else, be happy.  People always say “make an impact,” or “change the world,” as if doing these things will directly impact your overall happiness and enjoyment out of life.  I think of it a different way – do what to love, what makes you happy, and success, as well as leaving your “mark” on the community, will follow.  I know that I wouldn’t have achieved any success in my time at Rutgers if I didn’t to some extent enjoy what I was doing, and I don’t see how anyone could if they did not.  Also, get out of your room – do something, it can be anything.  I’ve found that success comes to those that strive to stay active in their communities, so break out of your comfort zone and stay out.

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