From a young age, Ashley Bennington knew her calling. “My mom asked me in middle school what I saw myself doing with my life. I told her I was going to be a powerful business women, wearing high heels, a pencil skirt and carrying around a oversized planner with lots of important meetings scheduled in it.”
That desire led her to Missouri State, where Bennington decided to pursue a marketing degree. “I chose marketing because it requires hard work and it allows you to be creative and innovative. I quickly added a sales emphasis as I realized that I am a naturally competitive person, and I am driven by the results of hard work and perseverance.”
As a marketing major, Bennington’s classes have pushed her to understand all aspects of business, and also taught her many valuable skills and information that will apply after graduation. Her sales classes allow her to sell to real business professionals, and get experience that other universities do not necessarily provide to their students. “I feel really lucky to be surrounded by faculty who help students stand out to employers,” she said.
Bennington knew she wanted and needed real world experience so she applied for the Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s management trainee program. Out of 2,000 applicants, she was one of two sophomores accepted. That same year, she also applied to the Disney College Program internship, and was chosen to participate for the Fall 2013 semester, where she was placed in merchandising in Downtown Disney.
Disney provided her with valuable training in the areas of merchandise, marketing, customer service and sales. Most emphasized of these four was customer service. “What was great is that as a program intern I was introduced to insights on all aspects of the Disney Company and why Disney is such a highly recognized brand.” Being a marketing student, Bennington was able to take a marketing seminar class with Disney professionals, which exposed her to the inside of Disney marketing and event planning, and also introduced her to influential people within the organization.
“Disney taught me more about life than anything else.” Living and working in Orlando, Florida for five months exposed her to many types of people, but also gave her the chance to gain a lot of great experiences one would never have if not for the program. “I was really fortunate that many international interns were placed in the same location I was, which means I got to make friends from all over the world. Two of my best friends currently live in Australia and Ireland, and we still keep in touch.”
Back at Missouri State, one of her favorite courses has been Marketing Yourself. She believes it was one of the most important classes she has taken because it covered topics that recent graduates should understand before and during their full-time job search. “What I liked most is how close our class got throughout the semester. We had group discussions about our personal experiences almost every class period, and it gave us the opportunity to learn from each other.“
She continued, “Professor Cook also brought in some very influential business leaders from the community. This gave the class a chance to network and learn from them. If you haven’t had the chance to take a class with her, you are missing out! This is the type of class that I believe should be taken by all Missouri State students because it prepares you for multiple aspects of the ‘real world.’”
Bennington returned last summer to Enterprise-Rent-A-Car, where she was recognized as an elite sales performer, resulting in a full-time job offer from the company when she graduates in May 2014. As for further down the road? In the future, her goal is to be recognized as ‘Ashley Bennington, CEO.’