Stay open to every opportunity

From National Guard to a marketing major with a passion for the environment, Amber Leisinger (BBA19) took a non-traditional path to Tippie – and she hasn’t looked back.

“I had two ‘Finding Your Major’ classes that made me realize I have so many opportunities – the world is my oyster.

By taking advantage of all that a Big Ten campus has to offer, Amber’s grown her leadership skills as co-president of the UI Environmental Coalition, earned a Sustainability Certificate, and worked with real clients in the Marketing Institute.

While her journey to Tippie was anything but typical, Amber’s found her niche and emerged as a true leader. Here’s her advice for future students seeking their own opportunities.

Find your passion – then follow it

After joining the National Guard post-high school, Amber came to the University of Iowa ready to explore her options. “I started in the College of Liberal Arts, then discovered my interest in the business side of things,” she explains. Originally pursuing a degree in psychology, she switched to communications, then finally landed on a marketing major.

“I knew I wanted to do something that dealt with people. And if I’m working for a company doing something ethically sound, marketing gives me a way to tell their story.”

Once she found her major, Amber joined Tippie’s Marketing Institute, which helps connect students with companies who need marketing help. Her team worked with the Boone Forks Region in Iowa, a tri-county recreational space that includes camping areas, equestrian trails, lodges, and cross-country skiing.

“The biggest advantage to working with a real client is hearing their real opinions. This project was more like an internship; we worked hard because we cared about getting it right,” she says.

Through their research on the health benefits of exercise and the area’s demographics, the team developed a marketing plan designed to encourage visitors to explore Boone Forks, including its crown jewel, the cyclist-favorite High Trestle Trail. The project combined Amber’s love of the environment with her marketing know-how; she’d discovered her wheelhouse.

Get involved ­– everywhere

Amber’s campus activities and love for the environment went beyond the Marketing Institute. She’s earning her Sustainability Certificate, which requires 24 credit hours of environmentally-focused coursework. She’s also the co-president of the University of Iowa Environmental Coalition, a student organization working to reduce energy use, waste, and pollution.

“Being co-president has given me a great understanding of managing and leading people at the same time,” she said.

Amber didn’t stick to Tippie or her biz-school cohorts to define her place on campus. And she encourages others to make connections beyond their major. “Branch out, explore, and meet people outside of your bubble. It affects your worldview, and helps you really understand that there are people out there who have different experiences than you.”

Go where your interests take you

By stepping outside of her comfort zone, Amber’s made the most of her college experience. And post-graduation, she’ll be adventuring on a whole new level. She plans to extend her National Guard commitment for two more years, then attend language school in California to learn Persian Farsi.

“Learning a language is so humbling, and you learn about the culture as well,” she says.

After the National Guard, she hopes to pursue a career marketing a socially and environmentally progressive corporation or non-profit. Her time at Tippie has shown her that she has the skills and passion to compete with marketing grads from all over the country.”