In today’s still fragile economic climate, finding work is typically a long, arduous process.
However, Sarah Long ’13, Executive MBA Program ’15, is not your typical MBA student. A new mom, military veteran and scholar, Long just joined Safeway, Inc. as a Product Category Analyst—a job that she never actually applied for.
Long will finish her undergraduate courses in December, and after utilizing resources like GaelLink and the Career Center, she put together a resume for an upcoming career fair. Looking at the list of companies that were going to be there, Safeway, the CIA and the FBI all looked attractive to her.
“I’ve always been really interested in Safeway as a company because their ethical profile matches my principles and beliefs,” says Long.
The fair took place during the shutdown of the federal government in early October. The FBI was on a hiring freeze, and the CIA didn’t send a representative.
“I ended up going with my resume specifically to talk to Safeway,” she says. “I gave them my resume and asked them about their management program. Nothing specific came up as far as a job is concerned, but about a month later I received an email from a Safeway recruiter. There was a job posting attached, and they wanted to know if I was interested.”
Given her background and the personal connection that she made at the career fair, Long’s resume was forwarded to Human Resources at Safeway. Two weeks and three interviews later, Long was hired as a Product Category Analyst at Safeway without ever actually applying for the job. The position that she eventually accepted was actually a level above the initial offer.
“It sounds like it’s going to be a daily puzzle,” Long says of her new position. “It requires a lot of research and planning and coordinating. It really focuses on marketing—there’s going to be negotiations with vendors, deciding what goes on what shelf display or when to put certain items on sale.”
“And I love puzzles,” she says with a smile.
“I didn’t want to compromise”
Whether the military service instilled it in her or merely refined it, Long is particularly driven. After serving multiple deployments in Iraq as a logistician, earning her Associate’s Degree abroad, and returning to the U.S. to continue her education, Long wants to take advantage of the opportunities in front of her.
Long's baby was due at the end of last year’s spring break in March, but she didn’t want to miss any time. Long talked with her doctor and induced labor the Thursday before spring break. Her daughter was born the next day.
When classes resumed, Long was there, not missing a single day.
Despite taking on a new full-time job at Safeway and being a new mother, Long will also be enrolling in the hybrid cohort of Saint Mary’s Executive MBA Program as well.
“My daughter was my priority and had there been any problems with her, she was going to be my focus. But I also realized that I have to start thinking about supporting her long-term, and that means I have to finish school,” says Long. “I have to think about tomorrows for her.”