Nolan Johnson arrived on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln campus in the fall of 2009 from Omaha, Neb., knowing involvement would play an important role in his collegiate experience. As a freshman, he joined the Association of Students for the University of Nebraska Committee for Fee Allocation which oversees the yearly allocation of student fees. This was a daunting task for anyone to take on, let alone a freshman.
“I have to admit it was a struggle to find balance when I first joined CFA. I had to learn about the student fee structure and how these multi-million dollar budgets worked. Adjusting to college at the same time made things interesting,” said Johnson. “As a result, I was a member of CFA my first year and the chair the next two years. Through this involvement, I was able to take a business interest and apply it in a workplace setting which will only benefit me in the working world.”
Johnson graduated in May from the College of Business Administration with a degree in management. He took advantage of a human resources internship in organizational development at ConAgra Foods to land a job with the company in the human resources and development program after graduation.
“Each intern is required to give a presentation at the end of the summer to give a synopsis of their internship and what they learned. I was very fortunate and received a job offer from ConAgra Foods a couple of days after I presented,” he said. “Because of my internship experience, I knew I wanted to work for ConAgra. This position will enable me to do all facets of human resources such as recruiting, diversity, inclusion and benefits. Knowing I had a job after graduation made my senior year less stressful.”
While at CBA, Johnson discovered early on the best resources in the building were the faculty. In fact, his recommendation to any new student he met was to form relationships with faculty members and take the time to get to know them.
“Gwendolyn Combs and Mary Uhl-Bien helped me realize who I am and who I want to be professionally. I took Dr. Combs’ diversity and organizations class, and it sparked an interest for me about how human resources can facilitate that component within a company,” Johnson explained. “Dr. Uhl-Bien taught organizational development, and I found it very easy to match my own work experiences with what she was teaching. It all made sense.”
He also benefitted from spending time in CBA between classes. “The time I spent in CBA when I didn’t have class was extremely helpful. I would surround myself with other business students, and we bounced ideas off each other or just talked about what was happening in the college. You just can’t put a price on what you see and do. Your experiences are so invaluable.”