Ciara Lesko

Ciara Lesko, MM '20

Making the Most Out of Ross
On Gaining a Network for Life

When Ciara transferred to the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus, she knew she wanted to be a part of the Ross community. She was determined to complete a dual degree in sport management and business. Yet, Ciara knew that as a transfer accomplishing this goal would take longer than she was hoping. She made the decision to stick with her degree in sport management and remained hopeful that she could pursue a business degree in the future. 

Thankfully for Ciara, that time would be sooner rather than later.

As she was finishing her degree, Ciara received a letter in the mail promoting the Ross One-Year Master’s programs. She was instantly interested in the Master of Management program, which was aimed specifically at non-business college graduates looking to develop their skills in business and leadership. Familiar with its notable alumni network and reputation among companies across the globe, Ciara said she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to apply. 

She was also struck by the amount of academic and career support Ross students received. Specifically, she was impressed by the Career Development Office. “I knew that they would offer me the tools to not only become successful in my professional life but my personal life as well.” The office offered resume building, mock interviews, aided students during their job-search, and much more. “It created a personal connection between me and the school and made me feel as though my success was just as important to them as it was to me.” 

Ciara entered the MM program with the assumption that a competitive environment for jobs, grades, and friends would become overwhelming. Looking back, she says her experience has been the opposite. Professors made efforts to engage with students on a more personal level during orientation and continued to do so throughout the school year. During their first weeks at the university, Ciara notes that her cohort took the opportunity to go kayaking down the Huron River as a way to bond and get to know each other. Instead of seeing Ross as a high-stress environment, Ciara saw it as a home.

Everyone is constantly encouraging each other to be the best that we can be.

The importance of community is what Ciara valued most about Ross. “I think this became even more exemplified since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been a hard time for all of us for varying reasons, but I know that I can count on my cohort to be there for me should I need them.” 

After graduation, Ciara will be working for Sazerac, one of the world’s leaders in the spirits industry, in their Leadership Development Program. “I was instantly hooked on the company after they displayed so much interest in me and what I could bring to the company later on down the road.” She will be working to strengthen her leadership skills, rotating throughout the company to discover where her role as their first marketing team member fits best. Ciara noted her degrees as a point of interest for recruiters. “They loved that I had an undergraduate degree in something specific, and a master’s degree that helped me apply my skills to the business world. It certainly gave me a competitive edge and I can’t wait to start.”

As she reflects on her time at Ross, Ciara stresses the importance of branching out, bonding, and getting to know people. “Be willing to sit next to new people and start a conversation,” she said. “During orientation when program leaders will tell you, ‘the people that you’re sitting in this room with right now are going to become your lifelong friends’, believe them.”