Early Start Gives Student Edge in Race to Business Career
Charisse Williams got a head start on her Purdue education, and it paid long-term dividends.
Charisse came to campus the summer before her freshman year through the Dr. Cornell A. Bell Business Opportunity Program, taking classes and building a support system that would sustain her through four years of college and beyond.
“I was able to network with other minority students, and it helped me build an immediate level of comfort,” Charisse says. She adds that a personal phone call from Darren Henry, the Krannert School’s Director of Diversity Initiatives, was an important factor in her decision to attend. “I knew Purdue was in Indiana, and that it had a strong engineering and business program, but I didn’t know much else about it.”
She took full advantage of the experience, being selected for the President’s Leadership Class of 2008 and becoming active in the Society of Minority Managers, Purdue Student Government and the School of Management Council. Later in her Purdue career, she was selected as a Career Prep Fellow for Management Leadership for Tomorrow, as well as Mortar Board Honor Society and Iron Key. In her leisure time, she also was active in her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, and the Lafayette Urban Ministry.
Charisse, who was born in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania and raised in several states, gained valuable experience through several internships. She worked domestically for Nielsen Co., Eli Lilly and Abbott Laboratories, and had an overseas internship with a company in Nanjing, China. “The internships allowed me to sharpen my skill set and really defined my interest in IT,” she says.
She enjoyed the interactive teaching style at Purdue, and cites a strategic management class with Professor Umit Ozmel as one of her favorites. “Professor do more than just lecture,” she says. “They conduct open-ended discussions.”
With her combination of classroom learning, real-world experience and networking ability, Charisse landed a job with Deloitte Consulting in Chicago. She’ll be a business technology analyst, managing solutions in areas such as e-commerce , sales and marketing, and technology.
The diverse nature of her new position matches her experience at Purdue.
“I enjoy the global appeal of Purdue,” she says. “I encountered people of all different ethnicities, including students and professors, and I gained exposure to a variety of courses and student organizations. Purdue prepared me for a career in business, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it takes me.”