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Locking down future success

Jake Nielson didn’t realize it at the time, but as he was installing home security systems during his summer job in 2005 he was securing his own future as well.

Nielson, a first-year student MBA student at Purdue and president of the Krannert Graduate Student Association (KGSA), had just finished a year at Brigham Young University and was working for Platinum Protection when his first summer assignment took him to Indianapolis. During a drive to Lafayette to make home installments, he noticed a billboard that referred to Purdue as the “Cradle of Astronauts.”

His curiosity was piqued.

“I always thought Purdue was a very prestigious university, and I was impressed by the students I came in contact with,” Nielson says. “When it came time for me to look at MBA programs, I remembered the great experience I had in Lafayette. Purdue had everything I wanted.”

Born in Delta, Utah, and raised in nearby Lynndyl, Nielson quickly learned responsibility and accountability on his uncle’s farm—“if you missed a feeding, you were in big trouble”—and he was able to take advantage of the experiences of his 11 older siblings. “I have brothers and sisters who have had successful careers as doctors, nurses, and lawyers. It was an incredible advantage to me as I grew up because they set a good example for me to follow,” he says.

Nielson decided that business would be his future path, in part because of his attraction to serving in a leadership role. To complement his future MBA education, he chose a communications undergraduate major.

Nielson, who served a two-year church mission to Micronesia Guam prior to enrolling at BYU, has put his communication skills to work at Purdue. Along with several classmates, most notably Heather Owens and Gareth Borcherds, he launched, a student blog designed to promote the school to prospective students.

He also tested his leadership skills by running for KGSA president. “I decided when I came into the program that I wasn’t going to leave anything on the table, and I would get as involved as I possibly could,” Nielson says. “It’s been a wonderful experience so far, and I look forward to helping as many students to contribute to the organization and the school as I can.”

Nielson is married with two small children. The family is headed to Sidney, Ohio, where Nielson will spend a summer internship with Emerson Electric. He’ll serve as an innovation analyst, trying to help the company decide which new ideas from college classrooms and laboratories might benefit the company. His plan is to land an operations role with a Fortune 500 company when he graduates in spring 2012.

“My experience at Purdue has been everything I could have hoped for and more. From the first day I walked on campus, I felt a strong sense of pride,” Nielson says.

“I’ve had the opportunity to learn from great professors and be surrounded by wonderful classmates from all over the world. Without question, it’s the best decision I could have made.”