A December of Firsts for the University of Cincinnati and Jillian Fox

From the first introduction, it is obvious that Jillian Fox is going places. She has also already been a lot of places — like Columbus. After graduating from Oak Hills High School, Jillian headed off to study pre-law at The Ohio State University.

“At that time, I didn’t know much about financial aid,” Jillian admits. She ran out of money and came back home to Cincinnati. During this time of transition, she looked at what kind of career she wanted.

“I decided ‘Maybe I’m not supposed to be the first woman president,’” she says, laughing. The other women in Jillian’s family are nurses, but she felt more drawn to her father’s interests — in sales and marketing. She had been accepted by both Miami and the University of Cincinnati, both with excellent business schools.

“I chose UC because of co-op,” says Jillian. “Plus, I wanted to study in an environment with more diversity.” So she enrolled in UC’s College of Business, studying marketing and international business. And she was off again to new places — this time to Germany, where Jillian worked for Böwe Systec. While co-oping for Böwe, Jillian worked on corporate marketing and the global design for their communications. She helped them translate their messages into everyday English instead of technical English. Jillian also ended up as the cover model for one of their business brochures.

“I loved co-op,” she says. “It was an extra benefit by coming to UC. Jillian completed three long-term co-ops. “I learned what I did want to do and what I didn’t want to do, and where I fit in in the corporate culture.”

Jillian knows that business, like college, is about relationships.

Jillian knows that business, like college, is about relationships.

In one job, for example, she was the sole marketing person in an office of engineers. “I learned that relationships are important. You’re going to spend eight hours of your day there with those people.”

Jillian spends many hours of her day with co-workers. At one point in her college career, she was working four jobs simultaneously. Her ingenuity shows in the part-time jobs she worked while in college: at a makeup counter, for a meat packager, as a server in a restaurant and a nursing home, and by taking notes for disabled school children. “One of the things that I’m proud of is that I will owe only $800 when I graduate after five and a half years.”

During Jillian’s sophomore year, she scaled back to only two jobs so that she could focus on her studies. “I can’t wait to work only one job!” she says. “I never saw ‘Friends,’ for example. Who’s Chandler? I have no idea. I might even get to cook dinner for myself.”

Now Jillian is interviewing for her first full-time — and only — job out of college. She’s finding that it’s a different type of interviewing from interviewing for co-op positions. She interviewed for five co-op positions and was offered four of them. She researched her potential co-op employers to see if she fit their needs. “I thought I could see what they wanted,” she says.

Now she’s looking at it differently — “I’m researching them to see if they’re what I want,” she says. “At this point, you have to be a little picky-choosy. You can’t be strategic all through college, building something up and then not be strategic in choosing and thus throw it all away. It doesn’t make sense!”

Jillian attended the panel of global experts that the College of Business hosted in November. “One of them talked about how you should specialize and differentiate yourself. When considering your options, know when it doesn’t fit your personal brand,” she says. “It’d be like Starbuck’s selling hairbrushes — it doesn’t fit!”

Jillian and Sunjay John, friend and fellow marshal.

Jillian and Sunjay John, friend and fellow marshal.

She plans to return to UC for graduate school, specifically for an MS in marketing. “The MBA is for somebody in a management position who wants the broad view of business,” she says. “I want to stay in market research and specialize in that. People think you go to college and learn everything. In co-op I realized that there’s a lot I don’t know.”

One thing that Jillian does know is German. Looking down the road, she can picture herself teaching German in some capacity. Her dream job is to do brand management or market research internationally. She would love to learn Chinese or one of the many Hindu languages.

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“A lot of Americans say ‘Why bother?’ and assume that most people speak English. This is true, but it is so very much more beneficial if you can speak the language or at least try to,” Jillian says. “It’s all about building relationships.”

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