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ASU experiences create unexpected path for alumna

ASU global studies alumna Angelica Wagner

Angelica Wagner.

November 29, 2018

Saying yes to an opportunity can open doors in your life that you didn’t know existed. This is especially true for Arizona State University alumna Angelica Wagner.

As a freshman at ASU in 2010, Wagner initially focused her studies on French and Spanish. Although she enjoyed her classes, Wagner considered changing her major to one that offered a more holistic approach while still maintaining a global aspect. That is when she heard of the BA in global studies within the School of Politics and Global Studies.

“I kept hearing people talk about this global studies thing and I was like, that sounds kind of fun,” Wagner said.  

All global studies majors are required to complete a global experience abroad. Wagner believed this would give her the extra push she needed to travel outside the U.S. during her time in college.

A year into the program, Wagner met with Gisela Grant, a senior coordinator within the School of Politics and Global Studies. Wagner said that Grant was instrumental in helping plan her time abroad during the summer between her sophomore and junior years.

“To this day, Gisela is one of my biggest mentors,” Wagner shared.

That summer Wagner had planned to go to Spain to complete her global experience when Grant told her of another opportunity to teach English in South Korea. Although she wasn’t sure if she’d get accepted, or even if it was an opportunity she thought would be a fit, Wagner applied and was accepted into the program.

Wagner would only have roughly 36 hours from the time she returned from Spain to when she would depart to South Korea.

“I had just enough time to unpack all my luggage from my nine weeks in Spain, do a whole bunch of laundry, repack for Korea and jump on another plane,” Wagner said. “I would go back and do it a million times.”

Both experiences abroad helped teach Wagner how to adapt to culture shock rather than dwell on the differences.

When Wagner returned to ASU to begin the fall semester of her junior year, Grant introduced her to another opportunity — the Arizona Legislative Internship Program. Wagner didn’t consider herself politically minded, but she applied. The spring semester of 2013 Wagner started as a student intern in the Arizona Supreme Court.

The program helped Wagner develop professional skills and opened up the idea of focusing locally as well as globally. According to Wagner, going abroad and doing these various internship programs helped prepare her for life after college.

“Taking opportunities whether or not I thought they were the right fit, helped me in my current position a ton.”

Upon graduation, Wagner started working at Financial Engines as an administrative assistant to the vice president of investor services. Although Wagner enjoyed the people she worked with, she knew she didn’t want to be an admin forever.

In her position, Wagner had exposure to different parts of the company that most wouldn’t. She took advantage of this and conducted informational interviews with fellow employees to see what career path interested her. Then when Financial Engines acquired The Mutual Fund Store, a new position was created from the merger: live events coordinator.

Wagner recalled her time at ASU when she worked with Grant on various events like ASU Open Door. She learned the process of organizing and running events and how to quickly adapt when things don’t go as planned.

“I had never thought about events as something I was interested in until I started working with Gisela,” Wagner said.

Going back to her notes from her career development course, Wagner updated her resume to apply for the position. Although she didn’t get the job initially she was offered to work part time helping with events while she continued her current role. After a year of that, she moved into a full-time events position.

Wagner’s role requires her to travel all over the country to put on financial education events for clients. She is on the road for three weeks out of four, which can be difficult but allows Wagner the opportunity to visit places she would not have seen otherwise.

“I’m lucky in that I’m surrounded by some awesome, supportive people,” Wagner said. “They know that what we are doing in terms of traveling is really hard on us so that when we are home, they are so flexible and understanding.”

Eventually Wagner wants to transition to a role within the company that allows her to coordinate the events rather than executing but for now, she is enjoying every minute of her job. In looking back, Wagner said that all of her college experiences fed into the career path she’s on.

“How did I go from studying abroad in Spain, to teaching English in Korea, to being an intern at the Arizona Supreme Court? All of these things don’t really seem connected until I get to where I’m at.”

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