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Student Spotlight

Reaching a Y in the Road

The first time senior Tehani Travis applied for a major at the BYU Marriott School of Business, she was sure it was the right path for her—but she didn’t get in. The next year, after much preparation, she applied to two majors and got into both. In front of her, two paths extended into the future, and she had to make a choice.

Tehani Travis smiles at the camera. Behind her is a city in Italy where a cliff falls abruptly into ocean, with brightly colored buildings reaching all the way to the edge.
Tehani Travis is a senior in the BYU Marriott School of Business.
Photo courtesy of Tehani Travis

Travis was an active member of the student council at her high school in Henderson, Nevada, where she helped plan large-scale events to bring students together. “Experience design and management (ExDM) seemed like the clear path for me because of all my experiences in student council,” Travis says. “It was the only thing I applied for; it was the only route I had thought of for my life. Then I didn't get into the program and I had to figure out what to do.”

Taking this setback in stride, Travis spent the next year taking a variety of classes until applications opened again. “I kind of had to reevaluate what I was interested in, what I wanted for my future,” Travis says.

During this time, Travis quit her call-center job. “I found a random HR job on campus,” she explains. “I have really strong organizational skills, and I like to solve people-centered problems, so I really enjoyed my job and love the people I worked with.”

With this in mind, Travis submitted for two majors when applications opened the next year. “After getting into both ExDM and HR on my second round of applications, I decided to go with HR,” she says. “I’m so happy that I did, because I think this is a really great path for me and for my career.”

Travis stands in the back center of a group of fellow students on her study abroad, soft sunlight warming their smiling expressions. The group high up on a viewing platform or the top of a building, and the city sprawls out below them until it fades into the distant, misty hills.
Travis (back center) is spending the fall 2023 semester in Italy on a study abroad.
Photo courtesy of Tehani Travis.

As she nears graduation, Travis reflects on the way her future career path is rooted in service. “It’s based on a desire to help people and improve the workplace,” Travis says. “Why wouldn’t you want to help yourself and your coworkers and bosses have a good experience at work?”

Although she’s a senior, this is Travis’s fifth year of college due to the delay in getting into the HR program. “Since I have this extra year of school, I decided to do something I’ve always wanted to do, which is go abroad,” Tehani says.

Travis has spent the last two months in Italy, where she is taking some of the remaining classes left before her graduation, including classes on sustainability. “I’d never left the country before this trip,” Travis says. “This experience has helped me feel so empowered and confident to travel internationally, and it’s amazing to connect what I’m learning in class to the world around me.”

Travis and seven other women from her study abroad stand in a narrow alleyway, smiling at the camera. The street beneath them is cobblestone and moss grows from the bricks to their left.
This trip to Italy is the first time Travis (fourth from the right) has left the country.
Photo courtesy of Tehani Travis.

After graduation, Travis will begin working at Walmart—the company where she completed her internship. Connecting with BYU alumni who work at Walmart helped her get her foot in the door, and from there she worked to earn her full-time position. “In the next five years, my goal is to get a director-level position in global people, which is Walmart’s HR department,” Travis says. “I am hoping to do either talent management or something in associate leadership and learning.”

Travis continues, “I don’t want to grow too fast—that’s advice I've heard from some of my mentors. You want the experience of the first few years of your career to really create a foundation for you, and if you grow too fast, you’ll be missing out on those key years of learning.” As she goes into the workforce, Travis has decided to follow the advice of these advisors and focus on building that foundation of experience before seeking vertical progression in her career.

Her work experience will build upon the skills Travis has already gained from her education. “BYU Marriott provides actual career readiness skills and opportunities for you to grow,” Travis says. “They offer résumé building opportunities and interview practice; just getting advice from the advisors helped me a lot.”

When Travis has spoken with juniors in the HRM program, she shares advice of her own. “Finding a company where your values are aligned is really important,” Travis says. “BYU Marriott has created so many avenues for us to build a community and have strong ties. I think it’s important to look for companies where you have those same opportunities.”

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Written by Melissa Een

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