After spending the summer abroad interning with Hallmark UK, Amy Esselman has returned to the United States prepared to lead as President of La Salle University’s Students’ Government Association (SGA). As part of La Salle’s tradition, Esselman addressed incoming students and their families during the Opening Convocation ceremony on Thursday, August 25.
“As a freshman, I sought out SGA as a way to get involved. I was involved in student government and did a considerable amount of community service in high school and loved it, so I thought SGA was the right fit for me,” said Esselman. She was elected a Freshman Senator and was a student representative on the University’s curriculum committee. At the end of her freshman year, she ran for Vice President of Business Affairs, which is part of SGA’s Executive Board.
“After two great years involved with SGA, I decided to run for President as an incoming junior,” said Esselman. “I want SGA to be an important group on campus, one that helps give the student body a voice and an outlet to express their opinions and concerns. SGA has done this in the past, but now we need to revamp and refresh how we are seen on campus.”
A dual marketing and international business major from Leawood, Kan., Esselman interned as the assistant to the Director of Licensing with Hallmark UK and its Tigerprint Division in London this summer. She dealt with licensing and contracts while being right in the middle of the company’s creative work and planning.
“Because they rarely have interns, they allowed me to work in all the different areas,” said Esselman. She helped create licensor databases, put together style guides for various Hallmark entities, and also scouted potential licensing contracts and trends. She also was able to help put together sections of a Christmas workshop for the designers to get them ready for the next season.
Esselman is a part of La Salle’s Business Scholars Co-op Program, which allows high-achieving business students to earn 12 months (one four-month co-op and one eight-month co-op placement) of paid professional experience while graduating in four years. Esselman’s summer internship will count towards her first co-op experience.
At the beginning of her sophomore year, Esselman began sending her résumé to people she knows at Hallmark UK inquiring about internship possibilities. “Working in the UK has always been on my list of goals,” said Esselman. “In the UK, internships are difficult to come by, especially for American students. There were times when I often thought it wouldn’t work out.”
Esselman worked hard in her classes her first two years at La Salle and was extremely involved on and off campus. “Everything that I worked hard to accomplish really helped me stand out as a qualified candidate, and eventually an internship spot was found for me at the company,” she said.
Esselman always knew she wanted to attend college on the east coast. “In high school, I did a lot of community service and tried my hand at a few entrepreneurial projects, so I wanted to find a school that tied together both of my main interests—business and service,” she said. “I was looking for a strong business school and a solid sense of community with opportunities for service both at the school and the surrounding area. La Salle has both—in addition to the Business Scholars Co-op Program.”
For six years, Esselman lived with her family in Henley-on-Thames, right outside London. While the internship allowed her to return “home,” it also provided an opportunity to view London and its business world in a whole new light. “For me, the biggest surprise was how laidback the work environment appears. The workday starts much later than it does here in the United States although it ends around the same time,” Esselman explains. “It creates a perception that time doesn’t matter much, but if you look closer, the amount of time people spend at work is less, but they seem to get twice as much done.”
Esselman also learned that she wants to work in a fast-paced international corporate job after graduation, and even changed one of her majors to international business as a result of this internship. “My boss traveled a lot and has contacts around the world, from the U.S. to Netherlands, to Australia, even Tokyo,” said Esselman. “A business that appears small from the street level in reality stretches far beyond what we ever see or hear about it.”
Making good on her dedication to service, in addition to serving as the new SGA President, Esselman is also the incoming President of the La Salle Ambassadors, students who represent the University at various events. For most students, taking on not one, but two presidencies in a year may seem daunting. However, for Esselman, it was an easy decision. “It might sound cliché, but I love everything that represents La Salle—it has really become a second, if not first, home to me,” she said.