School of Business Administration

Pushing boundaries propels alumnus’ passion projects

icon of a calendarJuly 21, 2022

icon of a pencilBy Emily Morris

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Pushing boundaries propels alumnus’ passion projects

OU business student, Julio Lee, posing for a photo.
As an OU business student Julio Lee, ECN ’20, pushed his boundaries to explore opportunities and discover his passion for economics, data and writing.

As an Oakland University business student, Julio Lee, ECN ’20, discovered a strong campus community support system where he could fully explore his analytical and creative interests, preparing him for personal and professional success.

Embracing what he calls blessings in disguise, Lee dove into the opportunities at OU to move out of his comfort zone.

“In order to reach your goals, you have to be uncomfortable,” Lee said. “The students [at OU] are very unique and forward thinking, and they have definitely pushed me to look at the world differently.”

From a young age, Lee appreciated analyzing the world around him through his studies, biblical scripture, and crafting stories. At 12, he was already nurturing twin interests in the economy and writing as he began one of his most extensive collections, a set of sci-fi novels focused on the economic, political and human fallout of an intergalactic war set in the future: “Ace Griffith and the United Frontier.”

While describing writing as his “God-given ability,” Lee explored additional avenues for his future, ultimately landing on an economics major. Economics connected him with a new path that propelled his creativity by supplementing his artistic endeavors.

“I appreciated the critical thinking skills needed to study economics,” he said. “Then I joined the Econ Club and Student Congress, where I met a lot of students who turned out to be really influential to me.”

With a support system encouraging him to continue to expand his scope, Lee simultaneously pursued his analytical and artistic interests.

Graduating near the hiring slowdown at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic proved challenging. But Lee took it in stride, again reaching beyond his comfort zone to connect with Career Services where he discovered career avenues, polished his resume and practiced his interview skills.

“I expanded my circle to include OU Career Services,” he said. “I listened to everyone, just becoming a sponge. I wanted to really be aggressive, utilizing all my resources.”

Through the expert guidance of the Career Services professionals, Lee landed two positions, one for each of his passions: a product management internship at IHS Markit and a set of freelance ghostwriting contracts with Upwork.

“Sometimes it takes people pushing you to try new roles to grow,” he said. “My first jobs out of college certainly made me uncomfortable, but I gained so much.” Within two months, Lee’s internship transformed into a full-time position as a Client Insight Adviser, and he completed his first ghostwritten book.

Integrating the professional communications skills he perfected with Career Services with his natural inclination to build connections and network, Lee branched out from data to digital analytics. In turn, he applied his business skills to his freelance writing, organizing his work in spreadsheets to track his productivity.

“I’m very critical of my work,” he said. “I always appreciate feedback because I want to be as efficient as possible in what I do.”

His approach is paying off. By the end of his first-year post-graduation, Lee advanced to a digital analyst position at Shift Digital and completed five more ghostwritten books. While others may find the two fields quite distinct, Lee said working in both creative and analytic fields strengthens his outcomes in both.

“It’s been an awesome process, but I’m never satisfied. I’m someone who is always looking for the next adventure,” he said. In fact, his next goal is to publish and promote his own sci-fi book series.

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