At Concordia, we feel like we have the best students around. They continually impress us with their creativity, passion, drive and commitment to making a difference in the world. Senior Justin Odney is no exception. Engaged in the community and on campus, Odney is leaving big shoes to fill for our next crop of Cobbers.
Justin Odney '17, Fargo, N.D.
Major/Minor: business (marketing) with a minor in communication studies
Why did you choose Concordia?
I didn’t intend on coming to Concordia, initially. I started at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, determined to study in a region outside of Fargo-Moorhead. After a few weeks of being at Drake, I didn’t feel connected to the campus and was longing to be closer to my hometown. That’s when I gave Concordia a phone call. I got in contact with an admission representative (Pete Lien – to be exact) and the rest is history. I knew this place was incredibly special immediately after my initial phone call with Pete. He had my schedule created, a residence hall selected and confirmed, and ensured me that Concordia would feel like home if I gave it a chance. Now, I couldn’t imagine getting my education from any other institution.
In addition to being a member of the Homecoming court and playing the lead in this fall's production of "Big Fish," what campus organizations are you involved in?
Offutt School of Business Leadership Organization, Marketing Club, TED Club and Dance Marathon
You organized Concordia's first TEDx event this past spring. Why was it important for you to bring TEDx to Concordia?
I remember being a freshman, looking around campus at all of the over-involved Cobbers, and thought to myself “what can I bring to life on Concordia’s campus?” After being an audience member at TEDxFargo and TEDxMinneapolis, I realized how impactful the sharing of knowledge can be on one’s impression of the world. I left both of those conferences with a variety of knowledge on topics prevalent in society at that point in time. I became more engaged in my community and felt compelled to become responsibly engaged in my community (BREW!). I knew Concordia would also benefit immensely from a similar event. The collaboration of compelling ideas and conversation is what creates lasting change in this world. That’s why TEDx is so important to every community it impacts.
The highlight of my Concordia experience so far was seeing TEDxConcordiaCollege come to fruition. After more than a year and half of planning, I saw the “sold out” event come to life on April 7, 2016.
You've also had an opportunity to connect with the community during your time at Concordia. Tell us about your internship experiences in Fargo-Moorhead.
Throughout my college journey, I have interned for five incredible organizations. First, I was employed as a customer service representative at Gate City Bank after my freshman year of college. The following summer, I worked at a philanthropic family foundation called The Barry Foundation. There, I mentored 14 high school students who interned at local nonprofits, as well as created and coded a scholarship portal for their philanthropic scholarship program. After having an incredible experience there, I was the employer relations intern at the Concordia Career Center. I conducted weekly interviews with employers in the community and jump-started the launch of our new career software, Handshake. After spending the academic year there, I interned for Emerging Prairie (an organization designed to connect and celebrate the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Fargo-Moorhead). I spent the summer as the marketing and community partnership intern, where I was responsible for acquiring and maintaining relationships with the sponsors of community events such as TEDxFargo, Drone Focus and Cart Summit.
This all led me to where I’m currently interning at, a social media marketing agency called Tellwell. We help organizations tell the story of their community through comprehensive social media strategy development, creative content and ongoing community management. I’m currently operating as the partnership coordinator intern, helping launch a new program I helped to conceive called Tellwell for Good. At Tellwell for Good, we believe work for social good can be done through nonprofit and for-profit platforms. We choose to identify these as for-good companies. These are the people we serve. Because it doesn’t matter the road you take if the destination is the same.
What are some of your biggest takeaways from your internships?
The importance of looking beyond the job description. If you’re going to intern for any organization, don’t be afraid to dip your toes into other departments in the organization. Use your internship as an excuse to ask questions, gain experience and network with individuals in the community. You will get as much out of your internship as you put in, so count yourself in.
You're a business marketing major. What are some of the best things about studying at Concordia's Offutt School of Business?
Hands down, I would say that the staff members are what make the Offutt School of Business so incredible. All of my professors go out of their way to ensure I’m going to be successful. Best showcased with the TEDxConcordiaCollege event, I feel that I have the ability to ask questions and chart my own path. I’m challenged on a daily basis and learning material that extends to my internships in the real world. I’m constantly challenged to think outside the box, which is essential to growing as a professional in any industry.
If you could give advice to a prospective student, what would you say?
If I could give one piece of advice, it would be to invest in yourself. The only way you’re going to make an impact in any organization is by counting yourself in. Embrace your passions and seek advice from your friends and professors when you need it. There are so many people at Concordia who want to see you succeed in both the personal and professional realms of your life.
Laura Caroon '06 is a content strategist at Concordia College.