Collin Hoyer

The Oregon Mentor Network

I have an addiction and I’m not afraid to admit it.

Stay with me though; this story isn’t as dark as it leads on.

I’m addicted to feedback.

Taking the guesswork out of trying to figure out how well you’re performing, how your peers and colleagues perceive you, and what kind of vibe you give off as a person is incredibly valuable. What I’m learning, especially in a small MBA program like the one at University of Oregon, is that quality feedback is hard to come by. With such a tight knit group of individuals, the degree to which each person is willing to tell another how they truly feel is shockingly low.

But I need it. I’m a feedback junkie.

Not having access to information that, if properly addressed, could make me a better person and/or job candidate in the future is flat-out wrong.

Knowing this, an outsider could easily understand why I jumped at Oregon MBA’s new pilot program titled ‘The Oregon Mentor Network’. This new initiative proposed that it would hand select, on an individual basis, mentors for each of those student who enrolled. These mentors would be matched with us based on personality characteristics, background, and career goals; all that were assessed in a preliminary survey. Mentors and mentees were then announced in a group unveiling that had soft undertones of early Christmas morning. We had been matched with mentors that, in our eyes, are going to change our futures.

My mentor and I were in regular communication throughout my internship in South East Asia, which allowed us to hit the ground running upon my return to the Pacific Northwest. To this point, we’ve been able to connect via phone for longer conversations and he’s made himself available via text for the quick answer questions. As a former Oregon MBA, he can relate to everything that I’m going through and offers a different viewpoint on my career goals and how to achieve them. He’s also been quick to connect me to people within his own network, which has proved a valuable resource.

What’s not to like about this? I’m being matched with someone that I don’t know who has a vested interest in seeing me succeed. Think of it as a clean slate.  The feedback we get is valuable in a way that mom/dad and previous employers cannot provide. There is no bias here. It’s a ‘call it like you see it’ relationship where, for the first time in a long time we’re provided with real, honest feedback that is going to make us better in the long-run. There’s no reservations about wearing your heart on your sleeve because, in most cases, the mentor has been there, done that before.

Admittedly, the 6 months that this program has been in implementation is hardly a long enough time to generate a comprehensive report. This program is a living, breathing process that will continue to evolve as we go along. The fact doesn’t change that, to this point, and in my eyes, this has been a complete success.

So thank you to my mentor and the Oregon MBA, you’ve given me my fix.

Written by Collin Hoyer

Collin is a second year student in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center (Class of 2015). He is looking to use his experiences working abroad in the NIKE business for the Ching Luh Group, Stanford University, DBI Beverage, and The Ronnie Lott IMPACT Foundation to begin a marketing career specializing in sports products. Collin did his undergraduate work at Chapman University and originates from Pleasanton, CA.

Not My Father’s Vietnam

I wish I could describe the look on my parents’ faces when I told them that I had accepted an internship near Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. I watched as two of their emotions clashed with one another: an internal war pitted excitement versus unrelenting fear. We hugged, we celebrated, but perhaps what is most important to this story are the things that were left unsaid. My parents’ body language suggested there was a passenger of doubt resting comfortably on both of their shoulders.

My parents were both children of the 1950s, coming into adulthood right as the world watched the United States enter into a perilous war with Vietnam. This very war would leave an impression on the young adults of that time like no other before it. My father’s Vietnam is death, my father’s Vietnam is destruction, and my father’s Vietnam left more questions than answers. And now, nearly fifty years later, his son was going to return to that same Vietnam, voluntarily.

I can only speculate that brutal images of the past were brought to the forefront of their imagination. Would they be sending their son to the same place that claimed the lives of so many of their friends, family members, and neighbors? In their minds Vietnam was a war zone, and who could blame them? I imagine that Vietnam to their generation represents what select countries of the Middle East represent to my generation. And what that boils down to is that the fear of the unknown is an incredibly powerful force. One that is virtually incapable of being masked over by a smile.

I landed in Vietnam in early June to start my twelve-week internship with the Ching Luh Group, a shoe manufacturer, as a strategic projects intern working on Nike business. Though the work has been both challenging and exciting, the focus of this piece is on Vietnam as a whole. When I got off the plane I was immediately welcomed by the Ching Luh Group and in that moment, was brought into their family. Family is everything to the Vietnamese and even though I don’t speak the language, I feel like I’ve been with them for my entire working career. I’m fully supported in all aspects of my projects and everybody makes an effort to include me in outside activities. The streets are alive with activity. Smiling children and adults permeate through despite what many Westerners would consider a harsh lifestyle. I absolutely love it here and couldn’t be happier.

Realize, of course, that “my parents” in this story don’t just represent the couple that gave birth to me. Rather they represent a whole generation of individuals that still question the unknown that is Vietnam. I am happy to report that the images, thoughts, and connotations traditionally allocated to “Vietnam” can be comfortably laid to rest while my generation works to restore the Western perception of this great nation.  Upon my return to the United States, I’m sure to get the question, “How was it?” to which I will proudly reply that it was unbelievable and it’s NOT my father’s Vietnam.

Written by Collin Hoyer

Collin is a second year student in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center (Class of 2015). He is looking to use his experiences working abroad in the NIKE business for the Ching Luh Group, Stanford University, DBI Beverage, and The Ronnie Lott IMPACT Foundation to begin a marketing career specializing in sports products. Collin did his undergraduate work at Chapman University and originates from Pleasanton, CA.

What Does Your "O" Stand For?

What does your “O” stand for?

It’s a familiar story. Graduate from high school, go to college, get a degree, land your dream job. Pretty simple, right?

What they don’t tell you is how hard you have to work, outside the classroom, to promote your brand and ultimately put yourself in a position where you’re being considered for your dream job. At eighteen, I wasn’t ready for that and very few of my peers were, either. Unless you’re extremely lucky, it’s all on you. Even then, having done all the necessary steps, having made all the right moves, you were forced to settle with a less than desirable position. Corporate America won handily in round one.

Left in the wake of the 2008 market collapse and impending recession, many of us graduated our undergrad programs on top of the world–only to find that there was no demand for our services. The skills we spent so carefully cultivating went to waste during the endless job hunt or were left for dead while we accepted low-level positions.

Enter the University of Oregon’s MBA program, where my “O” stands for opportunity.

This is our fresh start; a rebirth of sorts. Gone are the days of counting down the minutes until the workday is over. Goodbye to simply showing up to work in order to collect a paycheck. Enter the new–and eventually improved–me.

We’ve got two years to take advantage of everything that the city of Eugene (and the Pacific Northwest), the University of Oregon and specifically the MBA program have to offer. Having tasted what it’s like to be less than enthused at work while still believing in ourselves, we’ve earned this unbelievable opportunity.

Our paths are not clear; we’re nowhere close to being handed a cookie cutter blueprint of how to succeed. What we do have, however, is a university that is ready and willing to help us take advantage of every opportunity available and use it to transform us into the best candidates possible.

And so, we’ll enter back into the ring for round two. Hopefully stronger candidates, more refined, and with a new sense of direction and skill set.

Watch out world, my “O” stands for Opportunity, and I don’t plan on wasting it.

Written by Collin Hoyer

Collin is a second year student in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center (Class of 2015). He is looking to use his experiences working abroad in the NIKE business for the Ching Luh Group, Stanford University, DBI Beverage, and The Ronnie Lott IMPACT Foundation to begin a marketing career specializing in sports products. Collin did his undergraduate work at Chapman University and originates from Pleasanton, CA.