Antonia Collins – Purdue University – Class of 2014

Author: Daniel King

Q: Could you give us a little bit of background on who you are and what you do? 

Antonia: I am 22 years old, from Gary, Indiana, and I graduated from Purdue University in 2014 with a Bachelors of Science in Management with a concentration in Marketing. I currently work as a Marketing Associate at Eli Lilly and Company, specifically in their Oncology Business Unit.

Q: What were some courses in college(electives or not) did you find most favorable to your growth as a member of the business world?

Antonia: Not a lot of what I learned in the classroom was very useful outside of school. What was most helpful for me was more around extra curricular activities. Learning how to work with people, how to interact with people, how to set different priorities. (i.e. organization skills, time management skills, thought skills)

Organizational Behavior class­ which was basically how to interact with people in the workplace.

Q: Did you have any favorable/unfavorable internships that have affected your business decisions, or path?

Antonia: Yes. So my last internship in the Summer of 2013, the summer before i graduated, was with Eli Lilly. This really solidified where I wanted to work. For me, going into my junior year, my mindset was “where ever i internship this summer I should have a great experience, and is where I would like to work.” I really had a great time internship at Lilly this summer. I did market research, I did not have market research experience before. To me it was challenging, but not to the point where I thought I couldn’t do it. All in all the internship confirmed that I would want to come back if I had the chance, and they offered so here I am.

Q: As a black woman in the business world, did you find any Barriers to entry?

Antonia: At this point I have not experienced any, but that’s not me being naive to the fact that it could exist. I’m aware that they could potentially come up at one point, but at the same time there are woman at Lilly that have very high leadership positions. While barriers to entry for might be possible for minorities across the board, it’s not impossible to overcome them.

Q: What does being black in today’s Business World mean to you?

Antonia: Being black in today’s business world means feeling pressure to perform. Now that could be self inflicted pressure, or pressure from those around me. At the same time it means having a unique perspective on life. I think that it’s also a possibility for greatness. There are so many great african americans in any field that have made it, not being naive to the fact that it might have been hard getting there. Its just adds to the inspiration of “they got there, so I can get there too.”

Q: Through you college/professional career, did you have any Interactions with Top people (Management, CEO, CFO) that affected your business path?

Antonia: Yes. My first supervisor I worked for at Lilly, when I interned there, challenged my thinking in a way that i have not yet at that time. She coached me, and pushed me to the point to say that if it’s challenging that it’s a good thing. She wasn’t a CEO or CFO but she was in a leadership position.

Q: Do you have any Words of Wisdom/Advice for people of color starting/developing their career in Business?

Antonia: Yes. I think that the most important thing that you can do is to be good at your job. Before anything else matters you have to be able to perform. You also have to think what you want to be known for, what you want your personal brand to be. You should figure those things out and exemplify that in everything you do. But before that, I want to stress that you have to be good at your job, you can’t expect to move anywhere if you can’t perform.

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