Meet Maeghan Smulders

Getting to know the amazing woman with 47 job offers right out of business school

By Samadrita Guin, Section Editor

Image courtesy of Maeghan Smulders via maeghansmulders.com

“Super-intern” Maeghan Smulders – as the Toronto Star calls her – has become an inspiration to aspiring business students.As a young, energetic and highly motivated student at Mount Royal University, Maeghan graduated with 29 job offers, all of which she promptly rejected. She believed that beginning a career without extensive research and a hundred percent certainty of what steps to take next was  not justifiable.

And so Maeghan founded ProjectONE12, where she speed-interned for 10 companies all over North America. By the end of the project, she had landed 47 offers in total. She finally accepted a managerial position at Beyond the Rack, an online Canadian retail start-up. I was fortunate enough to interview her on some of her experiences and beliefs.

When Maeghan was younger, she was determined to be a marine biologist. She had three fish tanks in her room, a water bed, and her favourite movies were Flipper and Free Willy. So why the switch to business? Well, she switched to business because of a family trip to Hawaii, where she got her first opportunity to learn what marine biologists do in their jobs. “So, when I got to hang out with some marine biologists and swim/snorkel with fish, I realized I hated it when they touched me. And that the job was not as exciting as I thought! A year or two later I started working for a mortgage company, and I just loved the idea of being a business person,” she said.

When asked about ProjectONE12, she told us that she had a lot of fears when initially starting out. “I think the one that made it impossible to sleep was “What if it doesn’t work” or “What if I fail?” I had pitched what I was going to do to all my friends, family, peers and teachers, and a lot of them thought I was crazy. But no matter what you pitch, you have to be confident in what you are doing or it won’t work. So I remained confident, but deep inside was screaming with fear.” She strongly believes in the mantra that challenge is inevitable, but defeat is optional. In the case of a hurdle, looking at it from a different perspective makes the difference.

Maeghan was kind enough to share some of her insights about the project with us.

Along your journey, you probably encountered a whole lot of different emotions, and numerous experiences that could have clogged your mind from making a clear decision. How did you keep your mind clear and ultimately decide on BTR?

Yes, I did develop emotional connections with the companies, the people and the places I visited. It made it really tough to make a decision. But when I finished, I took two weeks off to come home and be with my family. One week was to “Vacation” and not think about ANYTHING project related. So after the week vacation, I spent the second week thinking about the things I enjoyed, the aspects of the project/work/journey that taught me about what I wanted to do and then picked a company that could offer me what I was looking for. I was really lucky BTR gave me what I was looking for and more.

Out of all the different cities that you visited, which one did you find the most exquisite and culturally engaging?

They were all so different! I loved Montreal, it was like experiencing Europe… that accepts Canadian money! But on top of that, they are a fast paced city. They have great businesses in the area and there is such diversity to what you can do. I did notice a difference though in the culture of work in each city. Toronto is very fast pace and straight to the point where as Vancouver is much more laid back and relation orientated. San Fran was competitive, but everyone was willing to help. It felt like a big community.

How do you think the project has changed you? What changes have you noticed in yourself, if any?

Oh man, it has hugely changed me. I have a confidence in myself that I never had before. I see the value I am capable of bringing to the table (which I believe EVERY STUDENT should learn about themselves) and I approach work, problems and relationships differently. I see the value in them, and the opportunity to do great things when you appreciate and find the ‘why’ behind all you do.

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