Thursday, June 16, 2011 myBiz Blog
Moving on...with George Hanscom by Katie Coon

Nearly every day while growing up in Golden Valley, Minnesota, George Hanscom passed the sprawling world headquarters of General Mills on his way to school. Never did it enter his mind that one day he would find himself working there. This July, Hanscom begins his career as a financial analyst for the food consumer giant.

Freshman year Hanscom attended Ignite the Potential (ITP), a two-day program which aims to help pre-business students find their path to success through the Wisconsin School of Business. While there he met some representatives from General Mills, one of the event’s sponsoring companies. “They blew me away; I was so impressed with the people and what they shared about the company. From that day on General Mills stayed on my radar as a place I would like to work and I kept in touch with contacts I made at ITP,” he said.

Along the way, the graduating senior continued to take advantage of the opportunities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to explore his interests and career choice through student organizations, study abroad, internships and campus jobs.

The lure of a top notch business school, combined with a “work hard play hard” student culture first brought the Minnesota native to Madison, even though his first campus visit was during the “worst weather possible – pouring rain and 40 degrees during the walking tour. “Despite the weather, I was excited to see all the opportunities for life outside the classroom,” he said.

He dove in right away freshman year by joining the UW Madison Chapter of the Lions Club where he tutored and mentored a local middle school student. Hanscom found the experience so rewarding that he taught an eight week junior achievement class at a Madison Boys and Girls Club. “I was able to put my business background to good use to help kids on a basic level understand and learn the importance of making and saving money,” Hanscom explained.

Freshman year he also pledged Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and where he has served in several leadership roles including Alumni Relations Chair, Treasurer and Brotherhood Chair. Hanscom views his fraternity a little different than some in that it prides itself on bringing together people with totally different backgrounds and personalities which help the members in turn become more open to differences.

Anxious to step outside his comfort zone, Hanscom spent the spring semester of his junior year studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain. “In the US we are egocentric, we tend to be concerned with our own problems and don’t pay too much attention to what people in other parts of the world are dealing with,” he said. “I enjoyed being part of a different culture and learning more about myself in the process.”

Hanscom was able to apply his finance education to the real world last summer when he served as a financial analyst intern with Ameriprise Financial in Minneapolis. He followed up that summer experience by working as a Peer Advisor in the Business Career Center his senior year where he advised fellow students on career related topics by providing one-on-one assistance. “The BCC is an amazing resource for students to use through their career development process,” he said. “I benefited so much from the BCC that I was motivated to give back and share advice based on my past experiences in college to help other students just starting the process.

As for the future, he hopes to head back to school for his MBA and study the environmental strategy and sustainability side of business. He developed an interest in this area while taking a class this year where he and three other students planned the annual conference for the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council.

The college years go by quickly the new graduate observes and he advises students to be active participants in the array of opportunities college offers. “You need to take risks in college,” Hanscom says. “Do things that are outside your comfort zone whether it is classes, clubs, study abroad, etc. Take the time to discover what your interests and your passions are. You’ll never have a better chance to do that than at the Wisconsin School of Business.”