Tag: Undergraduate



The Fit and Food Connection is a nonprofit organization that provides food and resources to low-income families. Through this organization, families learn how to make healthier decisions, from food selection to implementing exercise in their daily routines. The Fit and Food Connection is there to support and advocate for the wellness of those in the community.

They’re working with our Taylor Community Consulting Program this year as a client. We wanted to highlight The Fit and Food Connection’s previous experience working with students engaged in our TCCP Program.

Here’s what they had to say.

 What unique perspective do students bring? How did they drive impact in your specific project?

Students bring a youthful perspective, and they also bring their business smarts based on their field of study. They are also very tech savvy and can use that knowledge throughout the project with The Fit and Food Connection. They drove impact within our project because they set out to help us create some help for our volunteer onboarding within the organization, and they provided some great groundwork for our volunteer program.

Was there anything that surprised you about the engagement with the CEL team?  If so, what – and why?

We know what an incredible institution Washington University is, but these students were so smart and the level of their engagement made the project so very special. Often we see teams of students where a few people do most of the work, but within the CEL team everyone was very engaged and participated at a high level.

With any collaboration, sometimes things can become rocky! What was the most challenging aspect of working with the CEL/student consultants?

The time frame to work with is always challenging. By the time we get some of the ground work done, there is only a few months to really dig in and we don’t often get to complete everything that we need.

How do you see CEL’s work fitting into the greater vision and mission of your company?

We see the CEL working together with Fit and Food for a long time to come. The work of the students is invaluable and our needs as a growing organization are great. We love their energy and enthusiasm and all of the knowledge that they bring to create some significant changes and forward movement within our organization.

What was the biggest takeaway you learned from this experience – and was your hope that the students take this away, too? 

The students helped us with some significant changes in our volunteer onboarding system, and gave us a great structure to use as we onboard volunteers. Our hope is that the students learned about The Fit and Food Connection, and that they see the intense benefits of giving back in their community. We also want them to see how a community can work together to create positive change, and that their work can really make an impact. The biggest takeaway was seeing how much work can be done in a short period of time, and that when you work hard at something and have a goal, great things can be achieved.

Gabrielle, Co-Director of The Fit and Food Connection, ended  with a few final remarks:

“We know that all of the students that we worked with are going to go on and do great things in their lives. They have helped our organization so much, and if they have learned something positive about their strengths or creating positive change within our communities, that would make us happy. We are so blessed to have this wonderful program in our city, and we are excited for future partnerships together.”

Through the CEL’s Taylor Community Consulting Program, students can engage with the St. Louis Community and make life-changing impacts.  Students in TCCP are valued and respected by clients. We also value our clients–especially those like The Fit and Food Connection, whose mission is to empower the community.

You can read more about The Fit and Food Connection here.


When the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn caused internship cancellations, WashU Olin and the Center for Experiential Learning stepped up to provide summer learning opportunities for students while supporting St. Louis-based businesses. We’ll be sharing their stories on the Olin Blog. Today, we’ll hear from Phyllis Ellison, executive director of InvestMidwest Venture Capital Forum and  vice president of partnerships and program development, CORTEX Innovation Community

Given the pandemic, what compelled your company to get involved with this program?

 The CEL summer project program was offered at the perfect time. A practicum student that was scheduled to work in Fall 2020 with InvestMidwest cancelled. We had no idea if we were going to be able to find a student for summer, and how we would manage an internship. Cortex submitted two project ideas to the CEL, and one was selected. I’ve worked with three CEL teams in the past, and knew that having a team of WashU Olin Business School students working on our project would help us get the information and results we need to move any of our projects forward.

What is your project about?

InvestMidwest is an annual investor forum that connects venture capital investors to Midwest startups in the life science, tech, ag/food and energy sectors. The 20-year-old event recently transitioned to Cortex’s management. This project was to research the outcomes of the 700+ companies that have participated in InvestMidwest. That data will support marketing efforts and guide selection criteria in the future. 

What was it like working with WashU Olin students?

Olin students are great workers. Some are working on their organization and leadership skills; others are gaining an understanding of project management and the progression of a research project. They are all fine tuning their professional skills, and it was great to support that process.

What advice would you give students on the cusp of graduating at this time in history?

I really feel for students graduating during an economic downturn. I experienced it myself, as well as watching students go through the 2008-2010 recession. I would encourage them to be diligent in trying to find a job in their field. Don’t give up! Volunteer at a not-for-profit to gain experience and meet people. Attend events, when we’re able to do that again. Talk to people you know, asking about opportunities. Even if it’s below your preferred salary level, you’ll have the opportunity to grow your field. It will be difficult to return to your field of interest a couple years down the road if you don’t have any experience when a fresh class of graduates is entering the work force too. 

What are you going to take with you from this experience?

This experience has been such a great reminder. I’ve worked with CEL teams in the past, and this reminded me how valuable these teams are. The research and analysis the students did was incredible—and it’s a good reminder to remember WashU Olin as a resource we can tap into.




Leaving her full-time, stable job to take a leap into entrepreneurship the day before a national shutdown isn’t what Jessica Landzberg (right), BSBA ’17, imagined for herself. But she and Olivia Bordson (left), BSBA ’15, are redefining the women’s clothing industry—and they couldn’t be happier with how it’s going.

After their respective graduations from WashU, Landzberg and Bordson each spent years working for traditional retail brands. But, Landzberg explained, “we started to feel disenchanted by this industry that we thought we’d be working in for the long run.”

Landzberg and Bordson found themselves in an endless cycle of “more”—more product, more new ideas, more frequent brand launches. It was uninspiring, frustrating and—perhaps worst of all—wasteful.

Enter Pareto: a new venture from the Olin grads that seeks to make the best versions of the clothes women wear. Named for the Pareto Principle, an economic phenomenon remarking on the incongruence of causes and effects, the shop operates on the assertion that women tend to wear 20% of their closet 80% of the time.

This realization, confirmed by speaking with friends and other women in their lives, “pushed us to take the leap and start our own company.”

A deliberate, thoughtful launch

Bordson and Landzberg are doing things intentionally, taking their time and releasing pieces that are built to last, comfortable and made with an all-American, short supply chain. They started on August 20, 2020 with a traditional T-shirt dress that can be dressed up or down. On November 20, they launched addition No. 2: a comfortable, durable crew neck sweater.

Pareto’s first and second wardrobe additions, the T-Shirt Dress and the Crew Neck Sweater

“If you have a really great T-shirt dress and a really great crew neck sweater, that already solves a ton of your wardrobe needs,” Bordson explained.

The COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t part of the plan—and it had the potential to change everything. But, in fact, the pair see the pandemic as simply accelerating what they already predicted.

“Long before today, we started to see this scary but inevitable reevaluation of what ‘normal’ looked like in consumerism,” Landzberg explained. “There’s this juxtaposition between industry actors who force brands to rely on endless product development, and consumers who are starting to question whether they really need to endlessly buy more.”

Anticipating a consumer trend?

The pandemic and resulting economic scares accelerated this reevaluation; in-store shopping came to a halt, and brands started to face harsh financial realities as consumers rethought their buying habits. The pair imagined that a brand focused on simple, sustainable and basic pieces meant to last could be the solution.

And that solution is rooted in a rethinking of growth, defined through values-based, data-driven habits. “We’re telling our community a story about every hand that has touched each one of our pieces,” Bordson explained.

That’s not an easy way to do business—and plenty have said so along the way. Bordson and Landzberg know their focus on sustainability, creating fewer, more purposeful pieces and making each of those pieces perfect is more expensive and time consuming. But with a capital-efficient model and a focus on what the consumer wants, they’re confident in their success.

So far, that’s been working for them: the company sold through 75% of their inventory in the first month post-launch. Bordson sees this as just the beginning: “We have an amazing, diverse set of customers from 20+ states. Many who initially bought the T-Shirt Dress in black already came back and bought it in gray because they found themselves wearing it day after day. That’s the best measure of success for us!”

“Growth doesn’t have to come from more product, more often,” Landzberg explained. “We’re going to be deliberate in the way we grow while staying true to our core mission. We’re excited to rewrite the playbook on what growth means.”




This post was written by Jill Jarret, an event and program coordinator for the Weston Career Center

Embracing the virtual event space

This fall, the Weston Career Center did something we’ve never done before: We delivered multiple signature networking events, virtually. Back in March, when our team realized we would be working in a virtual environment for the foreseeable future, we quickly started researching ways to provide students with safe opportunities to connect with employers and alums in a worthwhile way.

“We wanted to create events where students could have meaningful conversations that would create valuable connections both now and in the future,” said Jen Whitten stated, associate dean and director of the WCC. 

Hidden benefits

One of the benefits of moving to a virtual event environment was being able to invite employers who wouldn’t normally attend an in-person event. This meant having companies like Microsoft and Google attend our MBA Summit event, in addition to more alumni participants from across the globe for all events. We know our alumni want to give back, but they are often unable to spend the time or money to physically come to campus. Hosting virtual events provided a great opportunity for alums to connect with students from the comfort of their own homes or offices.

“[We were] impressed by Olin’s organization and ability to turn a tough recruiting challenge into what seemed like a great touchpoint! Especially for firms that don’t make the trip to campus, I think this setup could be a really helpful ongoing event,” said Carly Anderson from General Mills, LA ’09, MBA ’13.

Supporting international students

While transiting to a virtual environment presented a new challenge, so did having a large number of students physically based in Asia. We wanted to create events that would be accessible and valuable for all our specialized masters’ students, regardless of where in the world they live. To meet this challenge, we created two Specialized Masters Summit events—one focused on students interested in working in Asia, which was held in Mandarin Chinese, and the other for students interested in working in the United States.

Di Lu, our Shanghai-based business development lead, was instrumental in our Asia-focused event, ensuring the event took place at a time that would work well for all students, and securing alumni from 18 companies to participate.

Springing ahead

Although we were unsure how students would respond to this “new normal,” we were pleasantly surprised by their positivity and embrace of virtual networking. Many students, when faced with video issues in the event platform, quickly provided employers with Zoom links to ensure quality conversations.

For our internal event planning team, we used Microsoft Teams to stay connected in real time during the event, and for our Specialized Masters Summit US event, also had a staff member monitoring a WeChat group for the event to ensure we could address student questions as quickly as possible.

While the majority of feedback from students, company representatives and alumni was positive, we are actively working through the pain points (e.g., video connectivity issues, student-to-company representative ratio) to ensure our spring events are set up to leverage the technology in a way that will ensure an even better experience for all involved, no matter where in the world they are.




Lisa Lewin, BSBA

Lisa Lewin, BSBA ’96, was recognized for extraordinary leadership through adversity by a 145-year-old culture and arts organization for her work in June to launch an initiative designed to “dismantle three of the biggest levers of racist power in this country: biased policing, electoral disenfranchisement and economic exclusion.”

The 92nd Street Y in New York City, a nonprofit community and cultural center that provides programs fostering individual physical and mental health, announced the “extraordinary women” awards on November 10, including Lewin among five women so honored.

Lewin is CEO of General Assembly, a pioneer in education and career transformation offering dynamic courses in data, design, business, technology and other high-demand skills.

According to the announcement from the 92nd Street Y, Lewin and the Leadership Now Project—where she is a member of the steering and investor group—”launched the Business for Racial Equity pledge, bringing together a coalition of leading executives to mobilize businesses to take concrete action.”

That action included working toward dismantling biased policing, electoral disenfranchisement and economic exclusion. The pledge includes a series of concrete steps executives and their organizations can take toward addressing those three sources of systemic bias and inequity. The announcement noted that more than 1,000 executives of businesses and organizations across sectors have signed the pledge.

Lisa serves on the boards of the Wikimedia Foundation, Bank Street College of Education, and the Leadership Now Project. In addition to her business degree from WashU Olin, she earned an MBA with honors from Harvard Business School.


When the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn caused internship cancellations, WashU Olin and the Center for Experiential Learning stepped up to provide summer learning opportunities for students while supporting businesses, nonprofits and startups. We’ll be sharing their stories on the Olin Blog. Today, we’ll hear from Jay Li, BSBA ’16, director of marketing at Regatta Craft Mixers.

Given the pandemic, what compelled your company to get involved with this program?

Honestly, we had to scrap existing plans to bring on summer interns due to the pandemic. When I received the email from Dean Taylor about the program, we rushed to pitch a strategic project we’ve been struggling with. 

What is your project about?

Our students worked on using insights from consumer research to inform a selling strategy for the grocery channel. 

What was it like working with WashU Olin students?

The additional bandwidth and their fresh perspective was great. It was a pleasure working with our team, and they definitely challenged some assumptions we’ve held for a while. We were really impressed with the depth of thought and analysis we’ve seen from them. 

When you’re so focused on fighting daily fires, other things—like figuring out exactly who our consumers are—have to wait. The students have really helped us work on some badly-needed projects. Plus, the students’ fresh perspective has been great—they helped us find ways we were looking at the wrong hypotheses.

What advice would you give students on the cusp of graduating at this time in history?

I would encourage them to try and find silver linings. Although COVID-19 has disrupted our lives, there’s a lot of opportunity for innovation and disruption as our behaviors change.