A business leadership course at the University of Mary Washington so inspired Drew Miller last summer that he took matters into his own hands.
The 22-year-old business administration major emailed the chief financial officer of Best Buy stores for advice on how to climb the corporate ladder of the company where he has worked since high school.
Not only did the CFO personally impart some sage career advice, she asked to continue the conversation by phone. She was so impressed by his initiative and his credentials that she offered him a job.
In June, less than a month after earning his undergraduate degree, Miller packed his bags, left Fredericksburg where he grew up and drove nearly 1,000 miles to join Best Buy’s corporate headquarters in Richfield, Minnesota.
“I knew I wanted to be part of something bigger than the store level, but I never dreamed I’d be working in the corporate office,” said Miller, who now works as a financial analyst with the international consumer electronic company.
He credits College of Business Dean Lynne Richardson, who taught the life-altering business course, with encouraging him to consider a leadership role.
“She’s been my biggest cheerleader,” said Miller. “The class was an eye-opener. We met regularly with CFOs and executives in the community. I became comfortable with talking to them. Listening to their stories made me realize I wanted to pursue a career above the local store level.”
“It’s not often a student like Drew Miller is in my class,” said Richardson. “Since he’s been in the workplace for years, he really applied what we discussed. I predict a terrific career for him there.”
Miller is accustomed to taking the road less traveled.
He started working as a part-time seasonal cashier at a local Best Buy in high school to earn extra money, but quickly took on additional responsibility. By his senior year, he managed the store’s customer service issues.
His passion for his job prompted the store manager to nominate him for the Brad Anderson Legacy Award, given to 50 employees nationwide to reward extraordinary performance. He received a plaque and 100 shares of stock.
By his freshman year at UMW, he had taken on a full class load and a full-time job at Best Buy.
“I came to Mary Washington with the idea of becoming a teacher, but I realized I wanted to pursue business after taking an accounting class.”
After all, business administration meshed well with his duties at Best Buy.
“Just being able to relate every day what I was doing on the job made learning in the classroom so much more relevant,” said Miller. “Then I could go to work and apply real-life examples from the classroom.”
Miller sees himself growing with the company where he got his start, and he believes the problem-solving skills and leadership foundation he received at Mary Washington prepared him for his new role.
“I love my job and the environment that I’m in. It is more than I ever could have dreamed of,” said Miller. “This experience has shown me that anything is possible.”