2020 Best & Brightest: Sarah Jaeger, University of Illinois (Gies)

Sarah Jaeger

Gies College of Business, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Inquisitive learner who thrives when meeting new people and seeking life’s adventures.”

Fun fact about yourself: My dog, Bailey (Cocker Spaniel mix), has an outfit for almost every season and holiday.

Hometown: Carol Stream, IL

High School: Glenbard North High School

Major: International Business Management and Economics

Favorite Business Course: BADM381—Multinational Management taught by Professor Kun Yao. Her passion and excellence in teaching made the 3-hour class Tuesday nights thoroughly enjoyable.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Gies Admissions Team Member
  • Business 101: Professional Responsibility Section Leader & Student Success Team Manager
  • Gies College of Business Peer Advising Manager
  • Student Senate: Senate Committee on Student Discipline Member
  • Economics 103: Student Teaching Assistant
  • Tau Sigma: Transfer Student National Honor Society
  • Beta Gamma Sigma: Business National Honor Society
  • Phi Beta Kappa: Liberal Arts & Sciences Honor Society
  • Multiple time Dean’s List recipient

Where have you interned during your college career?

Goldman Sachs, Chicago, IL– Securities Division Summer Analyst

The Center for Professional Responsibility in Business and Society (Gies College of Business), Chicago, IL– Student Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? 50 South Capital, Chicago, IL —Private Equity Analyst

Who is your favorite professor? Gretchen Winter, Executive Director for the Center for Professional Responsibility in Business and Society, has been my professor, manager, and an influential mentor throughout my time at Gies. I met Gretchen on the fifth day of class in my sophomore year. She represents a stellar example of what it means to be an ethical leader; her mentorship along the way has been instrumental in becoming the person I am today.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? Needless to say, I have enjoyed many aspects of my time here. However, I have enjoyed the people the most. My success as a student is largely attributable to the environment that is cultivated by the students, faculty, and staff at Gies College of Business. I have met some of the most curious and driven students from around the world. Additionally, the staff and faculty are true intellectuals with a passion for student success.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? It is not just about calculating numbers. While having strong business acumen is very important, communicating clearly, developing relationships based on trust, and taking creative approaches to challenges are of equal importance. Also, there is not necessarily always one correct answer when solving problems.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Sometimes it is best to follow the path less traveled as opportunities present themselves in surprising ways. Additionally, surround yourself with people who possess character traits that you both value and respect.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? I am pleasantly surprised at the variety of careers that fall under the scope of doing business. Within each business degree, there seem to be hundreds of different careers available to students after graduation. I recognize that selecting a major is the easy part; finding a career post-graduation that incorporates both personal strengths and interests is where it becomes exciting!

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? Given that I transferred to the University of Illinois after my freshman year, I am most proud of teaching transfer students in an introductory course titled Business 101: Professional Responsibility. It has been great to see the successes my former students have achieved during their undergraduate careers. I am also proud of my affiliation with the course because the content centers around ethical decision making; a concept that I personally feel is immensely important when transacting in business.

Which classmate do you most admire? Wenjie Song is a freshman honors student in Gies; I met her during Fall 2019. She immediately impressed me with her drive for success, well-spoken nature, and passion for business. I have admired the way she continues to push herself academically and involve herself in communities that support her long-term goals. While I am graduating this May, I am so excited to see what she achieves in the years to come.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Definitely my parents. They have instilled in me the importance of education, inclusiveness, and resiliency. My dad, Michael, always reminds me to ‘make it a good day’ every day; his work ethic throughout my life stands as a constant reminder that nothing earned is ever easy. My mom, Wendi, a rock star businesswoman, has been a constant listener and cheerleader every step of the way, particularly as I was navigating the past four years of my undergraduate career.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I hope to work internationally in a capacity that integrates both the public and private sectors. Knowing there are opportunities yet to be discovered, I look forward to keeping an open mind about what the future may hold.

What are your hobbies? Working out, cycling the Chicago lakefront, traveling to national parks, and trying new restaurants with friends.

What made Sarah Jaeger such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“Sarah is a passionate, focused planner who dreams big and executes well and with integrity. I first met her as an eager student in Business 101: An Introduction to Professional Responsibility, a course required for incoming first-year and transfer students at Gies College of Business.  She introduced herself to me early in the semester, asked thoughtful and engaging questions, and identified additional readings that were relevant to the topics we reviewed in class. What professor would not love that level of individual student engagement!

Sarah pursued her interest in professional responsibility and business ethics by applying for and then becoming a Business 101 Section Leader. In that role, I watched her lead insightful and engaging discussions, sharing various aspects of professional responsibility in business. She was prepared, worked well with her Section Leader partners, and inspired several of her students to become Section Leaders in subsequent years.

Sarah spent a summer working with me in the Center for Professional Responsibility in Business and Society.  We worked together on a variety of projects; she asked probing questions, accepted feedback willingly, and her performance was quite good regardless of the “ask”. When she took a summer job in Chicago the following year, we met after work to talk about her experiences, and she made similarly good use of the Gies resources as she planned her studies and pursued her post-graduation plans. It’s been a pleasure to know Sarah as a student, and I look forward to staying connected with her as her life and career continue!”

Gretchen Winter
Clinical Assistant Professor of Business Administration and Executive Director, Center for Professional Responsibility in Business and Society


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