MIM Alumni Interview with Joe Colistro

By Megan Nelson

Learning from former MIM students’ achievements and reflections can be a huge help for current and future MIM students. Sharing their reflections gives more people access to this information and to the success that these students are currently enjoying as a result of their time in the MIM program.

Joe Colistro graduated in 2013. When I spoke with Joe, he explained what he enjoyed and fondly remembers about his time in the program and where he is today as a result. Joe was able to use his connections and learning from the program to project him into a career that he truly enjoys and continues to grow within.

Can you tell us about your experience in the MIM program at Portland State University?

Going back to school and joining the MIM Program is hands down the best career choice I have made to date. I came to the program at a transitional period in the program’s history, but even with the organizational shakeups that occurred and the sudden changes to the curriculum, I can safely say that I had access to an amazing group of students and faculty. Sure, the international aspect of the program is great and all, but the real meat of the program is the connections that it enables, in terms of future business leaders (students), local businessmen, and amazingly knowledgeable and capable faculty.

What specialization did you choose? What motivated you to choose this specialization?

Interestingly enough, I did not choose a specialty. I began the program intending to specialize in supply chain and logistics, but after the Asia trip I snagged an internship doing marketing in the shoe industry that seemed like it had serious potential to turn into a career, so I opted instead to take extra marketing classes that would be more applicable to my career. The result was that I sacrificed my specialization tag on my diploma, but I netted seriously relevant knowledge and made tons of extra Nike and Adidas connections that continue to serve me in my career.

Can you tell us about your new job? What kind of responsibilities does it involve?

I am the Business Development Manager for the Asia Pacific at Brooks Running. At high level, this involves developing ways to grow and develop the business (retail networks, distributor relationships, supply chain and manufacturing issues) in several countries in the Pacific Rim. The nitty gritty of the job revolves around managing key distributor accounts, handling purchase orders, and aligning the business strategies of each country with those of our HQ. The role is broad because at this stage Brooks still has tons of growing to do in Asia. I also get to use my Chinese and Japanese on a consistent basis!

How does the MIM program benefit you in your new job?

The language skills are huge. Never underestimate the impression that being multilingual will have on prospective employers. DON’T NEGLECT YOUR LANGUAGE CLASSES!

Additionally, I can directly trace my career trajectory back to the internship that I had during the MIM Program, so that alone was worth the price of admission. The negotiation skills that I learned in Melanie’s classes and the Insights courses also play an almost daily role in my life.

Can you share some tips for fellow MIM students looking for jobs?

Get an internship. Nearly everyone I know from my cohort who ended up with a job they like did so through an internship in one form or another. If there isn’t one you like available, go out and make your own. Attend business forums on campus and straight up ask the employers there if you can work for them for free. The jobs aren’t going to come to you, at least not until you make that first step. Also, try to pick your Capstone project accordingly. If your project can serve as a relevant supplement to your resume then you are that much better equipped than the rest of the job hunters out there. Oh yeah, and stay in touch with your classmates. I promise you that they will go on to do big things, and you will be very glad that you met most of them.

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