Julia Ladner, an Arizona State University business communication major, will apply what she learned through her honors thesis and an internship in a job with the state of Arizona.
Ladner will graduate ASU in December with a bachelor’s degree in business from the W. P. Carey School of Business, a certificate in applied business data analytics and honors from Barrett, The Honors College.
Her thesis had three main foci: cooperative purchasing programs, the Arizona Set-Aside Program and the Department of Homeland Security’s Procurement Innovation Lab.
She landed on this topic after learning about the bid proposal process in Narrating Global Development and about public procurement in SMC 494: Public and Non-Profit Procurement.
“I was able to narrow in on cooperative purchasing and the Arizona Set-Aside after I started my internship with the Arizona State Procurement Office where I really learned about the inner workings of public procurement,” Ladner said.
Ladner served as a procurement management intern for the state of Arizona from May to October. She started a full-time position as cooperative program coordinator for the Arizona State Procurement Office last month.
At the ASU Polytechnic campus, she served as a Barrett community assistant, peer mentor and Honors Devil. She was given the honors college’s 2022 Gold Standard Award in the Community Builder category and received funding to represent Barrett at the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference in early November.
We asked Ladner, who grew up in Morris, Minnesota, to reflect on her undergraduate experience at ASU. Here’s what she had to say:
Question: What is an interesting moment, story or accomplishment in your ASU career?
Answer: I am incredibly proud of being awarded the Community Builder Gold Standard Award last spring for my work as a community assistant, peer mentor and Honors Devil. I was so happy to have my work recognized at such a high level as someone from one of the smaller campuses.
Q: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?
A: I originally intended on majoring in communication, but when I was a junior in high school, I toured the ASU Poly campus with my mom and absolutely fell in love. Business communication was the closest option, and I knew it would give me a well-rounded education to go into a variety of fields.
Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU – in the classroom or otherwise – that surprised you or changed your perspective?
A: I learned a lot as a community assistant that changed my perspective on how to approach a variety of situations. It really taught me how to better work with people to meet them where they are.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: I really chose Poly. I loved that it offered the small town feel I grew up with while providing the resources of the largest university in the United States. My choice was really solidified when I got to attend an overnight experience with a Barrett Poly student. There I was able to meet a lot of current students, learn about their experiences and see the tight-knit community in action. I even met my now best friend!
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU and what was the lesson?
A: I think the most important lesson I learned was the importance of building connections and having a strong network from Prof. Jeff Macias. In his SCM 494 class, we were able to meet current public and non-profit procurement professionals that proved to be incredibly valuable connections when I started searching for internships.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: Go to class! It really does make a huge difference in what you learn, and it is a great way to get on your professor’s good side, which is huge when they have opportunities to offer. I would also recommend doing something outside of your specific major/interests. I was focused on communication, so I never thought to take a special topics supply chain class until Prof. Macias told us about his class. This is directly how I ended up in the field I am now in. Taking classes outside your major is also a great way to meet people you may never interact with otherwise, which can lead to amazing friendships.
Q: What was your favorite spot on campus for studying, meeting with friends or just thinking about life?
A: The main place I go on the Poly campus to study is the Barrett Suite. On the Tempe campus, I love the patio downstairs by Hayden Library. It is the perfect quiet spot if you have an hour between classes and want a nice cool spot to study.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: I would want to invest in more sustainable and clean energy. Back in Morris, they are huge on reaching net-zero carbon emissions, so I would like to further invest in that goal on a larger scale by investing in solar, wind and other sustainable energy sources.