Small Town to City Living

Isabel Brownlee

Graduation year: 2021

Major(s): Marketing

I wanted a big city college adventure.

I grew up in Madison, New Jersey with a high school graduating class of 200. It’s the type of community where everyone knows each other. I appreciated my small-town upbringing, but needed to venture out on my own. My goal was to find a college experience in a large city where I could meet new people every day.

Pittsburgh always had a calling for me. When I was younger, I used to go to Pitt football games with my Dad, older brother, and uncle, who are all Pitt alumni. Personally, I’d always seen myself going to college in in New York City. But, when my older brother graduated from Pitt, I realized I couldn’t see myself anywhere else.

Isabel Brownlee: From Madison High School to Pitt Business.

My Pitt Journey Begins

I’ve loved my first two years at Pitt!

During my first year, I became best friends with my roommate in Bruce Hall, the Pitt Business Living Learning Community (or dorm). I loved living with other business students. We would study and do homework together, because we were taking the same classes! I’m confident that the friends I’ve made in Bruce Hall will be my friends for life.

When you’re a first-year student, you will find that Pitt offers so many opportunities to get involved in. Pitt Business, in particular, provides opportunities to speak with prospective employers, meet with career advisors, and even visit businesses downtown.

When I finally hit my sophomore year, I settled into the rhythm of college life. I moved into Brackenridge Hall, home of the Pitt Business Global Leadership Living Learning Community. I decided that I belonged in the Marketing and the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Certificate programs.

My classes in Consumer Behavior with Professor Eugenia Wu and Stakeholder Management with Professor Paul Klein were truly transformative. Professor Wu has a deep interest in marketing research, and would provide unique case studies that not only challenged our awareness of what marketing was, but also it’s potential. Professor Klein makes his classes special by filling his lectures with jokes, anecdotes, and stories of his work in the professional world.

At Pitt Business, they stress the importance of joining student organizations, not only for personal and professional growth, but because their data shows that participating in a student organization is the best indicator of landing a job after graduation. So, I looked into several student organizations, including Women-in-Business, Formula Society of Automotive Engineers, and the American Marketing Association. After some research, I decided to join the Theta Phi Alpha sorority, where I was named philanthropy chair. In this role, I helped set up events to raise money for several different charities. Through this work, I learned how to lead collaborative teams, in addition to developing and implementing marketing strategies that encouraged people to donate or volunteer.

From The Classroom, To The City, To The World.

Going Abroad

Even before coming to college, I knew I wanted to global experiences. I’ve always had an interest in the food industry and coincidentally a Food Studies program was available in Italy through Pitt. I knew I had to go. So, during the summer of my freshman year, I went to Rome!

For my second global experiences experience, I reached back into my experiences with the Chinese language. I took Chinese classes since high school and was excited to apply my language skills. I interned with Heartland Brothers (more on that internship below) through the Pitt Global Business Institute (GBI) in Shanghai. Through both trips, the Pitt Business International Programs team was there to discuss what my options were, the benefits offered, and put any concerns I had to rest. It also helped that I received a Pitt Business International Scholarship! You can read my posts about my experience in Shanghai here:

My International Internship

My International Internship

With the help of the internship coordinator at GBI-Shangai, I was able to find the perfect internship. I had the opportunity to serve as a marketing intern for Heartland Brothers, a startup company that exports meat from US Midwestern farms to China. I worked with a co-founder of the company to design informational packets for salespeople that educated prospective customers on the different cuts of meat that the company sold. Also, for one day only, I got to be a butcher!

Pitt Business is that they take their students From the Classroom, To the City, To the World. From a relatively small-town in New Jersey to Pittsburgh to Shanghai, I am living proof of that journey.