Gabe Garfield & Jasmen Grant


A SENIOR IN MARKETING, Jasmen Grant came to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a different path in mind, but the Haslam College of Business attracted her attention. “The students really seemed in tune with their work, and that was an environment I wanted to connect with,” she says. “Since I officially became a Haslam student as a sophomore, I’ve interacted with companies, gone on professional development trips, learned how to network, and had a great internship experience. I’ve loved it all.”

As a Haslam Ambassador, Grant enjoys getting to meet with prospective students and their families and share her experience with them. She interned at Adidas last summer and hopes to pursue a similar path after graduation. “I’m interested in the business of fashion and the magic behind these stores we love to shop,” she says. “Eventually, I’d like to work my way up into senior management at a large brand.”

In her free time, Grant enjoys hosting events, traveling with friends, and watching movies. “I also love what I call online window shopping,” she says. “I rarely buy anything, but I just love the thrill of finding new things.”

Gabe Garfield spent several years as a meteorologist and research scientist with the National Weather Service in Oklahoma before joining the Haslam MBA program in 2018. He worked on numerical weather modeling, including the development of a 3-D tornado model. “At NWS, I was on a team that produced a cutting-edge model that predicted a major tornado 90 minutes before it hit,” he says. “Being part of that was very exciting.”

Eventually, Garfield realized his interests and ambitions were calling him in another direction. “I’ve always been interested in business and wanted to know how things function,” he says. After hearing positive reviews, he decided to apply to Haslam. “I’m so glad I did,” he says. “It’s top notch, and the instructors have been incredible.” He’s involved with the Tennessee Organization of MBAs, the Big Orange Consulting Group, and the student-managed Torch Fund in the Master’s Investment Learning Center. “It’s really exciting because students have the opportunity to give buying, selling, and holding recommendations,” he says. He has learned a great deal about the process of doing so in a short period of time.

In the future, Garfield hopes to be involved with consumer packaged goods in a Fortune 500 company, perhaps in a management capacity. The MBA program keeps him on his toes, but when he has a little free time, he enjoys reading, spending time with his wife, and going storm chasing.

Garfield and Grant’s conversation shines a light on what it’s like to be a student at any level in today’s fast-paced world, especially at UT’s first named college.

Gabe: What’s your favorite class?
Jasmen: I really enjoyed the course on consumer behavior, looking at how marketers and consumers think. Right now, I’m in a digital marketing class and it speaks to how the field is growing. It’s taught by an alum who is young and accomplished enough to really connect with us and bring in a lot of industry experience as well.

Gabe: What attracts you to marketing?
Jasmen: Being able to put yourselves in the consumer’s shoes. I never want to work for a brand I’m not a consumer of because the store is the first point of interaction. I love being able to see the flip side of things [such as] how product development and merchandising are carried out, and marketing is focused around interpersonal relationships and emotions, so I feel like it’s the perfect marriage between creativity and analytics.

Jasmen: A lot of times, undergraduates wonder whether to go into the work force first or continue directly to graduate school. What would you say is the most beneficial?
Gabe: That’s a great question. We have a good mix of both in the MBA class, and if you wanted to get a head start on management, there’s no reason you couldn’t go straight from undergrad. On the whole, though, a lot of the companies hiring summer interns tend to focus on the skills you’ve acquired over a short career, so that can be beneficial if you choose to go into the workforce first.

Jasmen: What would you say is a hidden gem of the MBA program – a takeaway you didn’t expect to get from it?
Gabe: The opportunity to work in a high-intensity setting. It shows where you can improve your leadership and communication skills. Another thing is learning how much you can actually get done in two months’ time if you have deadlines. The workload is so heavy, but looking back, I can see how much I’ve been able to learn and accomplish. You gain the skill of learning something on the go. That gives me great confidence that when I’m put into a new situation, I can learn from it very quickly.

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