Whitewater Life Lessons

PROVO, Utah – Dec 16, 2020 – Whenever she courses down a turbulent river filled with rapids and obstacles, Bonnie McDougal embraces the overwhelming rush of adrenaline and the feeling of being disconnected from everyday life. However, when she’s back on dry ground, McDougal reconnects to the world and uses her expertise in technology to serve others as an information systems (IS) senior at the BYU Marriott School of Business.

When McDougal transferred from BYU–Idaho in 2018, she was accepted into three BYU Marriott programs: accounting, global supply chain, and information systems. She ultimately chose to major in IS because the goals of the program aligned closely with her own career aspirations and personal priorities. “I’ve noticed that IS culture, both at BYU Marriott and in the real world, focuses primarily on using technology to make people's lives better, and that’s a value I strive to live in my life each day,” she says. 

McDougal witnesses this culture in her part-time job as a data analyst at Skill Struck, a company that helps kids learn about computer science. Although she is not directly involved with teaching the kids, she enjoys being on a team with a unified purpose of improving the lives of kids. “The job I have right now is a great example of applying information systems to help others,” she says. “In my particular position, I work more with the actual data than I do with the kids, but being a part of a team that helps teach kids about IS concepts makes my work even more fulfilling.” 

McDougal’s job at Skill Struck has helped her realize how her career can enable her to accomplish her own goals of service. “The culture in most information-technology-centered companies such as Skill Struck focuses on being genuinely concerned about each individual and their needs,” she says. “I constantly think about how my career can fuel my lifestyle, and I want to be a person that feels motivated to improve the lives of everyone around me.” 

In addition to her work with Skill Struck, McDougal is also a risk consultant intern at EY. Her experiences with EY thus far have increased her desire to work in an environment with supportive co-workers. “Before my internship with EY, I didn't realize the importance of joining a company with team members who genuinely invest in me and my professional development,” she says. “Being part of a company like EY that cares about how much I’m growing and improving professionally motivates me to seek companies with similar values in the future.”

McDougal enjoys connecting with her coworkers at EY, but she also enjoys opportunities to disconnect from the outside world and connect with nature during her summers as a whitewater rafting guide. “Rafting is an activity that both relaxes and excites me,” she says. “The activity is fun but also teaches me important life lessons. I’ve learned more about collaboration while rafting than I have in any other job. Rafting is a different kind of team experience, because you put people with various personalities on a team and need them to get along with one another for the trip to go smoothly.” 

After many rafting trips, McDougal explains that the very nature of the rafting experience forces the people in each group to work together. “The rafters in my group can’t go home at five, because they’re on a three-day trip off the grid, so they have to accept their differences and work as a team,” she says. “Learning about this aspect of teamwork, how to utilize the strengths of people who are different than you, is a valuable skill in my career, and the aspect of teamwork is one of my favorite aspects of being a guide.”

At BYU Marriott, McDougal’s professors further emphasize the importance of working as a team as well as thinking about the needs of others when working towards a goal. “I’ve learned from my professors that my work should never be just about me,” she says. “As a student, when you’re hired by impressive companies and start to have more freedom, you can easily find yourself in a selfish cycle and think, ‘Look at all these cool things I can do, all these adventures I’m about to have.’

“My professors have shown me the importance of looking outside of myself,” she continues. “They exhibit selflessness in both their words and their actions and remind me that I can have fun in my career. I’m grateful for the examples of my professors and peers at BYU Marriott that help me to think about how I can take advantage of the little or large opportunities to serve the people around me.”

Bonnie McDougal
Bonnie McDougal
McDougal loves her summer job as a whitewater rafting guide. Photo courtesy of Bonnie McDougal.
McDougal loves her summer job as a whitewater rafting guide. Photo courtesy of Bonnie McDougal.
McDougal currently enjoys whitewater kayaking. Photo courtesy of Bonnie McDougal.
McDougal also enjoys whitewater kayaking. Photo courtesy of Bonnie McDougal.

Media Contact: Chad Little: (801) 422-1512
Writer: Sarah Calvert