Uyanga “Soka” Naranbaatar ’22, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Major/Minor: Mathematical Finance; Data Analytics
Please tell us about yourself.
My name is Uyanga, meaning “melody” in my language, but a lot of people on campus know me as Soka. I am an international student from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and I consider myself a first-generation student. I love traveling, writing, creating, playing basketball, tennis, chess, and the ukulele.
Why did you choose Concordia?
After high school, I took a year off because I didn’t get a good enough score for one of the required tests, TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), to apply to the schools I was interested in. During the gap year, I was looking for small liberal arts colleges that offer mathematics, business, finance, accounting, journalism, psychology, film, and chemical engineering majors. I didn’t quite know what I’d like to do, but I was considering those majors and wanted to explore a variety of classes before I committed to a major. My high school friend, Gantigmaa, came to Concordia as a first-year in 2017 and suggested that I apply.
What campus activities are you involved in?
I was an Orientation Leader and FYT Mentor earlier this academic year. Currently, I am co-president of Entrepreneurship Club, director of sustainability in the Scheel Investment Fund, a leader of the handball team, and a member of the Offutt Student Leader Organization (OSLO). Also, I am in two mentorship programs within the Offutt School of Business, the OSB Mentorship Program and the Hollstadt Women in Leadership Program.
Tell us about your leadership in the Entrepreneurship Club.
Entrepreneurship Club is one of the new organizations on campus. It was founded in 2021 but grew fast within the last year and a half. This year, we have a team of 12, so it was a challenge for me and my partner, Madi Hagen (the other co-president). Because we are not established and structured like SGA or CEC, we struggled a little bit with not only leading a big team but also encouraging the whole team and students to get involved while building our brand. We had to create everything from scratch: the positions, events, engagement, and community network. Collaborating with Scheel Fund leaders, we successfully got approved to move forward on the initiative Cobbertunity Fund, which will hopefully launch in 2023.
How did the Offutt School of Business prepare you for your internships?
I learned a lot from my mentors and took on challenging projects and roles. The Offutt School of Business made me understand that nothing is impossible. Opportunities are always there for you, and you just need to make an effort to look for them and communicate with people about your needs, wants, and dreams.
Tell us about your internship at Dagger Machinery.
It was a sprinkle of luck but also a result of following my mentor’s advice about LinkedIn. I happened to have a good LinkedIn profile that the CEO/president of Dagger Machinery liked. After a couple of meetings, I decided to accept an internship.
It’s a fast-growing small company where no one had interned before, no female employees had worked in the office, and no international students had experienced working there before. After interning at a bigger company like Sanford, it was a totally different experience. I wear a lot of hats, but my internship title could be data/financial analyst or problem-solver. I help wherever is needed. If no one needs help and no problem needs to be solved, I come up with projects to improve the company in different aspects. I work on business development ideas and do a lot of research and learning. My absolute favorite thing is the entrepreneurial culture. Everyone is open to new ideas and new ways of doing things, so we are not constricted by old-fashioned, boring, traditional, standardized mindsets and methods.
What are you most proud of during your time at Concordia?
I am proud of the courage I had to learn how to speak English. I talk about this a lot, but it was truly challenging for me to listen, translate, comprehend, digest new and old information in English, then form a response in Mongolian, translate, speak, and repeat. It was a whole process in my brain that nobody knew. Because of my broken English or my silence, many just assumed I was not intelligent enough to understand and respond to what they were saying. This year, I learned how to speak up about my opinion in any kind of situation.
Tell us how you balance work, academics, and co-curriculars.
I think the secret is care and love. I don’t see my work as a place I go to make money so I can get groceries or pay rent. Obviously, it’s one of the reasons I go there but, most importantly, I want to go to this place, make changes to better it, make someone happy, and make someone’s life easier. I don’t like to see class assignments as a mandatory thing that I may or may not use in my life. I want to learn because I am not just learning about the subject; I am learning about myself and whether I like this subject or not. Similar to co-curriculars; it can be time-consuming, but I want to have a team that helps me to grow older and wiser. These are my wants, not needs (although sometimes they are). If I didn’t genuinely care about and love those things, I wouldn’t have gotten involved. Because I enjoy all of it, I have to balance everything and make it work, right?
What have you learned about yourself while at Concordia?
A lot, but the most important one is that I am capable of doing anything I wish to. Plus, I am surrounded by people who believe in my potential, support me emotionally, and help me when needed.
Have you had a favorite class and why?
I took Entrepreneurial Mindset for fun my junior year, and it turned out to be an extremely inspiring class that gave me the confidence to do bigger things in my life.
Have you had a mentor during your time at Concordia?
I had three mentors, one of whom I am still in touch with. My OSB mentor in my junior year was Bonnie Hardegree ’97, who helped me to understand the importance of LinkedIn and a nice resume. After an event held at MSUM for Tri-College international students, I was inspired by Alex Cyusa ’15 and asked him to be my social/emotional mentor, and we had a deeper connection as international students and outgoing individuals. Through the Hollstadt mentorship program, I met Suzette Huovinen ’97 in my junior year and am still in touch with her.
What has been the highlight of your time at Concordia?
I would say being a part of small teams, groups, and communities. Unlike here in the U.S., I didn’t really have clubs and organizations to join at school back home. So before college, I was always an independent student and a follower who would do the assigned work alone. At Concordia, getting involved with the Scheel Investment Fund and Entrepreneurship Club this year has made me feel like I am a part of bigger things and opened many doors for me. I got to be part of the Cobbertunity Fund Initiative, Credit Risk Analysis Competition, Fall Symposium, TEDxConcordiaCollege “Legacy” volunteer team, and different activities on campus. I learned a lot about teamwork, management, events, strategies, marketing, and networking.
What do you like best about the Fargo-Moorhead community?
I like the small, supportive, young community. I went to StartupBREW Fargo only once, but I loved everyone there.
What are your postgraduation plans?
I have accepted a full-time offer as a business development analyst at Dagger Machinery, so I will be in the Fargo-Moorhead area when it’s not too cold and will be working remotely from hopefully warmer states during the winter months. On the side, I hope to complete my CFA designation and work on many exciting entrepreneurial projects.
Any advice for future Cobbers?
Get involved, talk to people, be curious, talk to other people, respect different views, talk to more people and learn from them.
Anything else you would like to add?
Please feel free to add me on LinkedIn or email me at email@example.com. I’d love to connect, talk, and listen to hopes and dreams.
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Published April 2022