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Success Story

Student Success Story: Brandi Herringdine

Student Success Story: Brandi Herringdine

Within a month of starting her Co-op job at Wandering WiFi in early 2007, management major Brandi Herringdine was running the whole marketing department for the wireless technology startup. Her supervisor, the company’s only other marketing person at the time, had left for another job.

“Our CEO, who went to Georgia Tech, told me, ‘You’re going to be doing it all. You go to Tech, so I know you can handle it,’” remembers Herringdine, who is now a junior. “From February until when I left in August, I handled all our trade shows and marketing customer relations, and I worked directly with the graphic designer to design all of our marketing materials.”

Selling Point

The opportunity to gain real-world experience through Georgia Tech’s Cooperative Education Program was a big factor in Herringdine’s decision to enroll at the Institute. The program allows students to earn as they learn, alternating semesters on campus with full-time jobs at high-tech companies.

“I feel like I’m learning more at my job than I ever could just in the classroom,” Herringdine says. “The classroom is a great place to supplement my work experience….

“One of my favorite things about the Scheller College of Business is that many of our teachers have chosen academia as a second calling after working full-time in industry,” she adds. “So they bring a lot of real-world experience to the classroom.”

Learning Experience

A native of Milledgeville, Georgia, Herringdine knew she wanted to study management when she arrived at Tech. Though she initially thought she might want a career in advertising, her experience at Wandering WiFi helped her realize that the management side of marketing is a better fit for her.

Playing a role in the startup’s expansion from 11 people to 55 (with three marketing people now) has been extremely rewarding for Herringdine, who’s now worked three semesters for the company. She’ll return to Wandering WiFi in the fall after taking summer classes.

“Atlanta is such a great city for new startup business,” says Herringdine, who notes that she wouldn’t have had such wide work opportunities if she’d gone to school in a small college town.

Worth the Wait

Most students in Tech’s Co-op program take five years to graduate because they don’t take classes during their semesters on the job. Herringdine has managed to take one class during her working semesters so that she can stay in touch with campus life.

Director of meetings and events for Tech’s Society of Women in Business, Herringdine isn’t sure of her plans after graduation. Gaining a permanent position at Wandering WiFi would be an attractive option, she says, but she’s open to exploring other parts of the country.

She knows that eventually she’ll earn an MBA and want to return to Georgia Tech for it. “I wouldn’t look anywhere else,” she says.

Though she's moved into her first condo in Charlotte, where Wachovia is headquartered, she probably won't be spending much time at home. The typical work week in the two-year Wachovia training program lasts about ninety hours. "It's kind of a lifestyle more than a job," Deng says. "It's a great business boot camp."

Good thing then that Deng is used to long hours. While most students in the Cooperative Program take five years to graduate, Deng managed it in only four. She'd race to campus from Southern Company's downtown offices at lunchtime so that she could squeeze in classes.

"I'm very ambitious and type-A," says Deng, who's got the list of honors to prove it. During the spring semester, she won the Alpha Kappa Psi scholarship award for being the most outstanding senior management major as well as a scholarship award from the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accounts. In 2005, she was named Outstanding Junior in Management by the faculty and won Bank of America's finance scholarship.

Her drive to succeed was evident at an early age. When she moved to Duluth, Georgia, from China at age eight, she didn't even know a letter of the English alphabet, much less a whole word. But within six months of starting her new school, she was fully up to speed with the other kids, no longer needing separate English as a Second Language instruction.

"It was frustrating coming to a whole new world where you couldn't read any of the signs," remembers Deng, who returns to China about every five years to see her extended family. "That frustration drove me to learn English at a really fast pace. Watching lots of 'Sesame Street' helped."

By her senior year, she knew she wanted to major in business at Tech. Even though her schedule here was demanding, she says she managed to maintain a good balance between her studies, work, and social life. "I think I've always been able to step back and look at the big picture," says Deng, a devoted runner who loved working out in the Campus Recreation Center as well as socializing with friends at Tech, other local universities, and Southern Company. "Grades aren't everything."

After completing two years of investment banking training, Deng could advance within Wachovia, but she's keeping her options open. Eventually she might earn her MBA and go into consulting for nonprofit organizations. "Maybe I can use my skills to contribute to more meaningful organizations," she says.


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