Melissa Mills

Going Global; Business Career Centre helps BCom grad launch future in international business.

People need somewhere to turn in times of trouble. For Melissa Mills, help was waiting at the end of the hall.

Mills was entering the third year of the Sauder School’s undergraduate program when her life changed forever. After months of pain, poor health and doctor’s appointments, she was diagnosed with chronic arthritis.

“It hit me very hard,” says the then-international student, who was living in residence away from her family in the United States. “I had been a state-level swimmer. I was an advanced skier. My family members were all extremely healthy and there was no genetic connection. How could this be happening?”

At the time, companies were recruiting students for work terms.

“How could I deal with all the emotional and physical challenges I was facing? How could I possibly work and go to school? How could I still get job offers without being considered a burden?”

Mills turned to her coach, Philippe Desrochers, at the Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre (BCC).

“Philippe made me feel so comfortable in our sessions,” she explains. “He helped me see how to clearly show my qualifications and abilities to potential employers, and to better understand myself and what I wanted out of my life and my career.”

While Desrochers offered a shoulder to lean on when she struggled with arthritis, he also provided valuable advice about resumes, and informational and job interviews.

“He helped me refine the art of networking,” Mills explains. “I learned how to make calls to potential employers, ask for informal meetings to discuss ‘opportunities in the industry,’ and develop good questions for the interviews. These key points allowed me to understand what employers were looking for, how I could present myself positively, and land jobs that may otherwise have not been advertised.”

Through her networking efforts, Mills had multiple work opportunities. She completed an exchange semester in Europe, graduated with a BCom with a major in International Business and Marketing in 2010, and secured an account manager position at Google in Mountain View, California.

Today, Mills credits the BCC and her work experiences for helping her land the Google job — and the Sauder School’s emphasis on global perspectives and team work for helping her do her job well.

“Being able to work with different individuals and experience different cultures taught me how to adapt to any situation,” she says. “I work with a lot of international teams, especially with people in India. I love how I can understand where they are coming from, and how they are communicating,” she says. “It definitely helps me provide great service to my clients and succeed in my position.”

In 2006, Hari B. Varshney donated $1 million to establish the Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre at the Sauder School. Varshney, founder and partner of Varshney Capital Corp., came to UBC from his native India in 1967 on an MBA program scholarship.