General Mills serves ‘Breakfast of Champions’ and more to these UW-Green Bay alumni

Jake Ambrosius '17 and Kailee Smits '18 at General Mills

General Mills, Inc., is a powerhouse company that produces some of the most recognizable food brands in the nation. And now they have two powerhouse employees — recent UW-Green Bay alumni Jake Ambrosius ’17 and Kailee Smits ’18.

Jake Ambrosius '17 and Kailee Smits '18 at General Mills

Jake Ambrosius ’17 and Kailee Smits ’18

Home to popular cereals such as Cheerios, Lucky Charms and Wheaties, along with pantry staples like Betty Crocker, Nature Valley and Progresso, this international company with its base in Minneapolis, Minn., has the two UW-Green Bay Business Administration graduates rolling up their sleeves and digging in to the mealtime favorites and the company that makes them.

“I enjoy working with the products that I love and grew up with,” Ambrosius says, “These are all things that I loved to eat growing up, and still do, and I like to be able to say that I work for the company that makes these products.”

“I really enjoy the people and culture of General Mills. Everyone here is so welcoming and encouraging and you can really tell that they enjoy their job,” Smits says.

As a customer operations specialist, Ambrosius works directly with customers from the time they submit an order to the time they are invoiced with it. Through this position, he works with many facets of the company that directly correlate to a customer placing an order. Smits works as a talent acquisition assistant, where she is responsible for bringing candidates onsite to interview for a variety of different roles, from entry level finance to vice president positions.

From UW-Green Bay to General Mills

For both Ambrosius and Smits, making the decision to attend UW-Green Bay was easy. Ambrosius notes that UW-Green Bay provided “a smooth transition,” coming from a small town, and with the smaller class sizes, it was “an environment I was a little more used to,” he says. Smits remembers falling in love with UW-Green Bay when she came to tour the campus. “The campus was beautiful, the people were friendly and the classes were the perfect size for me. I knew that is where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life.”

UW-Green Bay provided the perfect environment for them to flourish in, and they would both go on to become business majors. The Austin E. Cofrin School of Business helped prepare the two business students for what to expect after graduation.

Ambrosius shares that one of his favorite classes during his time at UW-Green Bay was his business computer applications class, saying that, “Since graduating, I have not come across anyone with a job in the business field that does not use Microsoft Office in some capacity, daily. It is becoming more and more necessary to know how to use those programs.” Ambrosius also says that UW-Green Bay’s Career Services helped him immensely when it came to preparing for a career post-graduation.

Smits says she owes a thank you to all the group projects and presentations she did for her classes. “I think UW-Green Bay really helped build my confidence in terms of how I conduct myself and my knowledge,” she says, “The business classes are filled with group work and presentations… I really believe that all of the presentations I did helped me with the confidence I needed to land this job at General Mills World Headquarters before I graduated.”

Back to Business

For Ambrosius, the business field is all about possibilities. “The reason I chose to pursue a business degree is because there is business in everything. There will always be plenty of opportunities.”

Smits became a business major by realizing she could combine both of her interests with this degree. “Human resources, in my mind, was a great middle ground of everything that I enjoyed,” Smits, who also majored in Psychology, says, “I got to pull in all of my interests with psychology and apply it to the business world.”

After discovering that business was the right career path for them, they both then went on to obtain internships during their time in college. They say these internship experiences were extremely beneficial and helped shaped their future careers.

“I believe that any student that is going for a business degree should strongly consider an internship,” Ambrosius says, having interned for KBX Logistics and Schreiber during college, “There is so much to learn outside of the classroom, and an internship is a great way to do it.”

“I believe that my internship at Festival Foods was one of the best things I did for myself in college,” Smits says, “The experience I gained from that opportunity really set me up for success.”

Words of Wisdom

Ambrosius advises current UW-Green Bay students, “Do not be afraid to go outside your comfort zone, or to take a position that is not necessarily what you are ‘going for.’ Just because you are a marketing student, does not mean you should only be applying to marketing positions.”

Smits urges students to start testing themselves in the classroom in preparation for what lies ahead, “Learning to be comfortable in a new environment is very important when you get a job out of college. So, go out of your comfort zone, be the person who raises their hand to present first and always be curious and ask questions.”

Story by Marketing and University Communication intern Alicia LeBoeuf

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