Crystal Camden graduated from The University of Toledo in 2019 as with degrees in marketing and professional sales.
The path forward seemed to stretch out easily before her: join the workforce and begin the next great chapter in her life.
And while Camden said she liked her post-graduation job, she also didn’t find it fulfilling.
“I didn’t picture it as something I would do my whole life,” Camden said. “I was also commuting an hour one-way for my job every day and working a lot of hours and weekends on top of my weekdays from 9 to 5. It became really draining and was starting to impact my social life and therefore overall well-being.”
The pandemic only magnified her frustrations.
That’s when Camden began to look for a new path, one that would take her in a new career direction — human resources. It’s what she enjoyed most from her experience working as an assistant manager who handled sales relationships with clients in the construction industry.
“I enjoyed what I studied in undergrad and I still use those skills every day as well, but I didn’t really know exactly what I wanted to do someday until being in the workforce.”
A friend who had just graduated with her M.B.A. at UToledo suggested Camden return to the University to pursue her M.B.A. as well.
“She told me great things about the program, and also introduced me to the option of being a graduate assistant,” Camden said. “I couldn’t get the idea of a tuition waiver and stipend while I worked towards a new specialization out of my mind, so I applied to the program and began connecting with faculty about available assistantships I could apply for.”
Now in her third of four semesters of graduate school, Camden, 25, will graduate with her M.B.A. with a Human Resource Management focus in May 2023.
“I have already learned so much in the program,” she said, “and I feel much better equipped to go out and serve in higher-level, higher-paying roles in the future, and in an area that I’m happier in long term.”
This course correction in her life is one of many challenges she’s successfully navigated.
She grew up in the small town of Gibsonburg, with approximately 2,500 residents who share one stoplight. She lived in a modest home with her father, a truck driver with a physical disability, and kept busy in high school athletics, arts programs and theater.
Her reasons to attend UToledo were for proximity — “It was far enough away from my hometown that I felt like I was starting a new adventure, but close enough that I would be able to visit my family when I wanted to without a huge drive” — and for a kind of magical feeling she got during her first campus visit during a winter’s day.
“There was snow on the ground, and I thought it looked like Hogwarts,” she said. “It was absolutely the most beautiful and welcoming campus I had been to.”
Four years later, Camden become the first in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree.
As an undergrad, she was involved in multiple organizations, including RockeTHON, The Bridge, Pi Sigma Epsilon (PSE) professional sales and marketing fraternity, and served as the president of her social sorority, Alpha Chi Omega (AXO), for a short time.
And as a graduate student, Camden has been busy as a graduate assistant in the Edward H. Schmidt School of Professional Sales, helping with coordinating various programs such as the UToledo Invitational Sales Competition in the John B. and Lillian E. Neff College of Business and Innovation, and providing data analysis and interpretation.
“This role lets me gain knowledge and expertise in so many different ways,” she said, “and it has made me a well-rounded individual. I’m sure I’ll use the skills I’ve picked up here for the rest of my life, like time management, creative problem solving, data interpretation and more.”
Dr. Jenell Wittmer, associate professor of management, said she sees unlimited potential in Camden.
“Crystal is a bright and dynamic student and professional, always taking the initiative to grow in her leadership and expertise,” Wittmer said. “It’s been my great privilege to work with her in my graduate courses and in the Neff COBI Advanced Leadership Academy. She is a kind and inclusive leader and I truly believe that the sky is the limit for her.”
With the resources and support of the business college, Camden said she’s accepted a position with National Corporate Housing, where she is working as a part-time intern.
She’s also focused on graduating and saving up to buy a home in Maumee with her boyfriend to share with their cat, Hyde, and dog, Obi.
For Camden, graduate school has been the best path forward.
“Graduate school heavily builds on what you learned in undergrad, but you’re going to dive really deep into just a few topics as opposed to skimming just past the surface on a lot of topics like with your bachelor’s,” she said. “Graduate school’s purpose, in my opinion, is to help you get a deep specialization in your chosen field.
“UToledo has some of the best faculty and staff around, and you’re sure to learn a ton and get some great skillsets to take with you into your career.”