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How one transfer student became a ladder-climber at major retailer

Rachel Rothstein
March 05, 2020

Alumnus Ian Moses has been out of college two years, but he’s already been promoted twice at a well-known corporation and shows no signs of stopping there. His experience taught him several important lessons, and he has some advice for those who want to follow in his footsteps.

Moses, ’17, started working as a marketing coordinator at the corporate headquarters of Home Depot, Inc. just after graduating. He was quickly promoted to marketing specialist, then to merchandise planner, a position he’s held for six months. Moving up in a big cooperation so quickly is a huge accomplishment, especially for someone as young as Moses. How did he go from being a two-time transfer student to catching his employer’s eye? Here are Moses’ five steps:

Don’t give up on your dream

An Atlanta native, Moses has characteristic Southern charm. He has Instagram good-looks, is sociable and a natural people-person. Talk to him for 10 minutes, and you can see why his bosses like him.

The consumer and family financial services grad grew up idolizing Ohio State and knew he would eventually become a Buckeye. But he did not take the typical path getting there. He first enrolled at two other universities, trying to find his place.

“I doubted my ability (to) get into such a great university…,” he said. “To be honest, I was okay in high school. I made okay grades; I took AP classes, but I wasn’t a key student. It took me a long time to … learn how to study and learn how to be a good student and work really hard, trying to build my way to Ohio State.”

When he finally became a Buckeye, “it was a dream come true.”

Choose the right major

The Consumer and Family Financial Services program was a snug fit for Moses.

“I’m consumer-driven and consumer-based, so being able to understand data and relate that to consumers was super important for me,” he said. “I’m very passionate about business and marketing, and I felt like that’s lacking right now, the ability to understand the consumer in the market.”

The major set him apart from his peers who studied business or finance, he said. The program felt unique because he learned several different aspects of the field, rather than focusing on just one aspect.

The most influential class Moses took at Ohio State was Quantitative Methods in Consumer Sciences. The ability to understand and analyze data is extremely valuable to business, and having that skill makes a prospective employee stand out, Moses said.

“It was not an easy class, it definitely took up a lot of time, and it was stressful, but it laid the fundamentals and groundwork for getting into a big company like Home Depot,” he said. “I’m forever grateful for that.”

His advisor, Ramsey Piazza, helped Moses tap into his talents and find career opportunities best suited to him.

“Most students transferring to Ohio State from another university usually end up adding a year to their hoped-for graduation date,” said Piazza, now assistant director for undergraduate recruitment at the college.

Few programs line up to allow four years total across multiple institutions. “For Ian that’s even more extraordinary because he had two institutions he was bringing credit from,” Piazza said, evidence of Moses’ hard work and determination.

Learn diverse skills to land a good internship

Moses’ internship at a New York advertising agency his second year helped him get his foot in the door at Home Depot. Looking for internships on the West Coast and or in New York, where big-company hubs are headquartered, increases chances of getting a good one, he said.

Now Moses is the one hiring interns for Home Depot. He said a resume stands out when it shows a candidate has diverse experience and a wide variety of skills. Moses himself picked up a minor at Ohio State, entrepreneurship and innovation, in the Fisher College of Business.

He tells his interns to try learning as many facets of the business as possible. For example, don’t just focus on finance but get experience in marketing, sales or merchandising. Having a wide skillset gives graduates an advantage over other candidates.

Then, network, network, network. Moses got involved in extracurricular activities, going to events and meeting with professors or people in classes. It takes time, but Moses’ success proves the connections made are worth it.

Network with alumni postgraduation                  

Everyone’s post-graduation journey looks different. Moses used LinkedIn during his job search and took advantage of Ohio State’s huge alumni network.

Ohio State students and alums also have access to Alumnifire, a platform that allows you to connect with Buckeyes in many industries.

Those are some of the best people to reach out to when looking for a job. You already have a great conversation starter, Moses said.

He also suggests asking alumni in companies where you want to work to grab coffee and talk about what they do. “It’s just really about the people you know and making those connections and relationships,” he said.

The transition from college to a full-time career, especially one in a big city, was nerve-wracking but Moses said Ohio State prepped him well. He knew how to manage several things at once, and found it easy to get into a routine.

Career success starts with relationships

On the job at Home Depot, Moses proved he could succeed no matter what was thrown at him. Agile and dynamic, he quickly realized that people noticed the good work he was doing and recognized his success. Big things happen when you are able to prove yourself, he said.

His two promotions are the product of building strong relationships with his manager and his mentor, he said. His team maintains a genuine camaraderie, and the company culture is unique. Everyone “bleeds orange,” he said.

“It reminds me of the passion people have for Ohio State football. People are pro Home Depot and it means a lot to them. It’s not just a store. It’s a story and a way of taking care of people and that’s what I like the most about it.”

Without Moses’ experience at Ohio State, he may not be where he is today. Graduating from Ohio State made him feel like he could accomplish whatever he put his mind to.

“I couldn’t be more happy with the decision I made to go (to Ohio State), and I wouldn’t change it for the world,” he said.

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