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Sarah J. Michel ’14

Class of 2014: Lives of Meaning and Purpose

Michel ’14 lands management trainee position with global food leader

The ingredients for Sarah J. Michel’s ’14 career started with sprinklings of ambition as a student at Providence College.

Methodically, she added cupfuls of professional advice and resources, relevant course work, and not just one or two, but three internships.

The resulting concoction? A full-time finance management development position with Nestlé, the international food giant.

A political science major with inklings of becoming a lawyer when she enrolled at the College, Michel (Norwood, Mass.) made a life-altering decision in taking an internship with a global real estate investments firm in Boston the summer after her freshman year. Primarily hoping to get experience in a formal work environment at Taurus Investment Holdings, LLC, she gained extensive knowledge in compliance, investor relations, and finance.

The brush with the corporate world intrigued Michel. She began to think seriously about business courses. When she returned to school for her sophomore year, she switched her major to finance with the School of Business. She was hooked.

An internship with Providence start-up the Capital Good Fund (CGF) in the fall semester of her sophomore year turned into a three-year work commitment. She advanced from an operations intern to the point where, by her senior year, Michel was playing a major role in the non-profit’s budget. The Fund provides financial services to the poor.

In her junior year, Michel was such an integral part of the firm’s financial team that she was performing day-to-day accounting tasks and taking work home. She took payments, paid bills, and contributed to month-end reporting. She helped develop an accounting policy handbook for the CGF.

But the work on the Fund’s budget was “the most challenging task yet.” Michel worked with the CGF’s four departments to forecast, create, and assess the budget on a monthly basis.

“It was very difficult to implement and work with the different departments. But in the end, it was a better, more integrated budget, and there was accountability in each of the departments,” said Michel, who has a twin sister, Deborah ’14, a political science major at the College, and two older sisters. 

CEC bridges Nestlé internship

Michel’s third powerful internship experience, in Nestlé’s finance and control unit during the summer of 2013, was strongly influenced by the College’s Career Educatio​n Center​ (CEC). She became involved with the center her freshman year when she sought résumé help. As a sophomore, she returned for more résumé assistance and developed relationships with Patricia Goff, the center’s director, and Eileen Wisnewski, senior​ associate director.

Early in her junior year, Michel saw an advertisement for the Nestlé internship on the CEC’s internship, jobs, workshops, and events online database, eFriars. She expressed interest to Goff, who helped her refine her résumé to make it more applicable to the position. Michel was selected and spent nearly three months at Nestlé’s prepared foods factory complex outside Cleveland, Ohio.

As one of the finance and control interns who are charged with leading a “real-world” project from start to finish, Michel analyzed and made recommendations for inventory control of an at-risk product. The internship involved working with the supply-chain, marketing, finance, accounting, and sales departments and concluded with a presentation in California to senior members of Nestlé’s finance organization.

Highlights of the internship, which included social and professional networking opportunities, were virtual meetings on leadership qualities with Nestlé’s vice president of taxes, Michael Davis, the father of Sarah M. Davis ’15 (Shelton, Conn.).

Last September, a month after the internship ended, Michel was offered a position in Nestlé’s Finance & Control Professional Development Rotation Program as a finance management trainee. Her job will begin in July with the first of three rotations in different locations over a 3½-year stretch. Management trainees like Michel will develop technical knowledge and skills in various finance roles that span manufacturing, operations, supply chain, sales, and corporate finance. She will learn more intensely about daily processes, business unit strategies, and how finance plays a key role in cost management across the organization.

“I really wanted it. It is a big commitment,” said Michel, who added that she is close to her family, has a boyfriend, and hasn’t been away from home for long periods. “I’m anxious more than nervous. I’m very excited to learn and do something new.”

Fulfilling College experience

The job seals Michel’s concern going into college that she make the most of her education, she said, noting that the CEC and her business courses were pivotal in her journey to a finance career. In addition to the résumé assistance, counseling, and the eFriars database the CEC offered her, she attended College career fairs and recalled taking part in the “Boston Finance Road Trip” in which the center brought a small group of students to visit three businesses.

Several of her courses helped her apply knowledge she learned in her internships. In particular, she remembered an operations course that covered supply chain operations.

“What I was learning in class, I felt I could contribute elsewhere,” she said.

Emphasizing the importance of taking initiative, Michel said she was surprised by her personal development since her freshman year, when students oftentimes lack a sense of direction.

“I definitely evolved … to someone who has a strong work ethic, is passionate, and is very eager,” she said.

— Charles C. Joyce

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