A mathematics major with a sociology minor, Sara Packer is fascinated by customer buying behavior in her work as an Inventory Planning Analyst for Banana Republic.

What inspired you to pursue a job in your current industry?
During summer and winter breaks at Oxy, I worked at a Gymboree store in my hometown. I was always curious about why our store would receive particular products or sizes to sell and why we had more of some things than others. I learned through that job about Inventory Management in retail and I found the idea of forecasting customer buying behavior really fascinating!

What led you to choose your major?
I actually came to Oxy planning on majoring in theater and going into acting. I've always loved math and it just drew me in. I never even took an acting class at Oxy!

In what ways did a liberal arts education help shape your career aspirations?
I loved how a liberal arts education allowed me to take classes across a bunch of different subjects. You will never walk into a job knowing how to do everything because of a class you took, so you may as well take whatever classes you're interested in, even if it doesn't have to do with your major or intended profession. Also, my professors were always happy to give me advice or write me letters of recommendation, which I was really grateful for.

Talk about the process you went through to land your first job out of college.
I had an incredibly loose connection I had made through working at Gymboree with someone who moved over to working for Banana Republic. When he did, I sent him a LinkedIn invite expressing my interests in the field. When it was time to start looking for jobs I asked him if he had any suggestions for me and he ended up sending my resume on to a recruiter! From there, I worked with the recruiter and set up interviews for three different positions I was interested in. Since the office is in San Francisco I had video interviews, which I did at the HCC in one of their interview rooms.

How did you engage with the Hameetman Career Center (HCC) during your time at Oxy?
In my last two years I tried to go to as many HCC workshops as I could: an etiquette dinner plus resume building, LinkedIn and interview workshops. It was their lessons on how to network that gave me the confidence to reach out to my connection.

It's totally fine to wait and figure out what you want to do or where you want to go, but once you have an idea, start looking for opportunities in that field.

Looking back, what do you wish you knew about the career prep/planning as an incoming first-year?
It's totally fine to wait and figure out what you want to do or where you want to go, but once you have an idea, start looking for opportunities in that field. I first connected with my recruiter at Banana Republic at the end of my junior year so by the time I was ready to interview I already had a relationship with her and an idea of where I wanted to go in the company. That really helped me.

Where do you see yourself in the future, career-wise?
I love inventory management and I plan to stay in the retail industry. Hopefully I can work my way up the ladder, but I'll see where my work takes me!

Any advice for current students at Oxy?
Don't be afraid to try different things or reach out to different people to figure out what it is you're interested in. You can always reach out to alumni on Facebook and ask them for advice or to get coffee (just don't send a LinkedIn request without a message attached if you don't know the person).


Read more young alumni profiles.