Graduating with a B.S. in Retailing and Consumer Sciences, Sarah envisioned her future career to be something revolving around developing new product lines, working with vendors, and analytical planning. Today, fourteen years later, Newman is a Development Director for Ronald McDonald House Charities of New Mexico, located in Albuquerque. For Newman, her major played a crucial role in helping her find her path, it just wasn’t in retail.
“During my freshman year,” Newman explains, “I bounced around and declared multiple majors.” Newman goes on to describe how she began as a Psychology major, then a Sociology major, and finally a Retail and Consumer Sciences major.
“I was looking for an easy introductory level course to help boost my GPA,” remembers Newman. “Then it turns out it wasn’t as easy as I previously had been told. I really had to work for it but it was in a way I connected with, that made sense to me. “
“After several internships, I knew I wanted to work for a large retail corporation in a buying office in a big city,” says Newman. However, after working at Mervyns Department stores first as an intern and then as a business analyst, Newman decided to become a buyer for Harry and David, a smaller retailer based in Oregon where she also interned while at the UA.
“The role was much more creative. I got to be much more hands on in designing the product, and planning seasonal products,” says Newman. As her career progressed at Harry and David, Sarah noticed a change in her work. The creative side of the business that she was once so passionate about had now turned more into financial business planning.
“I had been working 60-80 hours a week,” says Newman, “which was not for me.”
She decided to move back to Albuquerque and explore new opportunities, which included extensive volunteer work. Growing up volunteering, Newman loved how the retail program at the University of Arizona kept the students so engaged in the community.
“We worked on many different projects that were really meaningful and wonderful, but it also gave me the real-world experience I needed,” says Newman. She later took these skills and new mentality with her into her career after college.
While working for a New Mexico based retail company as a buyer, Newman slowly launched a consulting company focused on working with nonprofits to help them build programs and sustainable fundraising strategies. While this may sound completely different from what Newman studied in school, she says “the root of what [she’s] doing is very much the same.” Newman explains that she was still doing analytical planning, still working with people face to face, and in some ways still selling products, only now it’s selling the mission of the organization. “It’s thinking outside of the box. Where else can these skills that I’m learning be utilized?” says Newman.
Throughout the course of her consulting career there were times when Newman had only one client, and there were times when she had multiple. Her final client was Ronald McDonald House Charities of New Mexico, where she had been volunteering on and off since returning to Albuquerque, and in 2012 she joined their staff as the Development Director.
While choosing a major is a crucial aspect of the college experience, it is by no means a permanent decision or determining factor of one’s future. There are many job opportunities that may not seem as though they align with a specific major, however that doesn’t necessarily mean that they cannot be pursued. Influences such as personal values, classroom experiences, as well as non-school related experiences all play a part in finding the career that’s right for you. If you keep an open mind to your professional career and its path, like Sarah Newman, the opportunities will be endless.