Some students come to the University of Richmond knowing which paths they want to take academically and professionally.

Others figure it out as they go. 

“I arrived on Richmond’s campus my freshman year without a definitive academic plan,” says Conor Flanagan, ’12. “I explored many fields to see which best suited my skill set and personality.”

He eventually settled on leadership studies and business administration. Combining the two well prepared him for the professional world, he says.

“My marketing classes have taught me how to interpret data and my leadership studies classes have taught me how to use that data to add value to the organization,” he says. “Above all, I learned how to gather information cross-functionally and ultimately synthesize material into a clear story.”

He believes that knowledge will serve him well when he begins work next month as a brand analyst for Altria Group. He will assist in the development and execution of marketing programs and “ultimately deliver strategic recommendations to senior leadership,” among other tasks.  

He landed the job thanks to an internship with the company last summer. He pursued the internship to fulfill the Jepson School’s internship requirement for majors and to put theory to practice.

 When he was searching for internships, he met with several assistant brand managers at the Career Development Center’s Corporate Career Expo and was impressed by the career field.

“Soon after, I learned about the Alfred E. Lyon Scholarship,” he says. “Not only did the award help me financially, it also opened several doors for me during the application process.” The grant is offered to marketing students in the Robins School of Business.

He will draw on both his leadership studies and marketing knowledge to succeed in the field, he says. “The combination of the two majors has afforded me several advantages.”

Flanagan admits that although he decided early on to major in business administration, he was initially skeptical about leadership studies – until he took a couple of classes. Now he is thankful he did.

“My greatest takeaway from the Jepson School has been the ‘lens’ in which to approach seemingly ambiguous situations,” he says. “I have learned to interpret situations and respond with contextually-grounded strategies."