by Writers @ Work Intern Katie Miller
At 5 years old, Andrea Vasiloff got on her first horse. After spending much of her spare time horseback riding in Eden, N.Y., she realizes the impact it had in her upbringing. “It developed into this thing that taught me focus and taught me how to live a healthy lifestyle,” Vasiloff said. “I give horseback riding a lot of credit as to who I am because it’s helped me develop a strong personality.”
As a 2015 graduate of the State University of New York at Fredonia, Vasiloff will be participating in the Writers @ Work Four Years Out series this week on campus. Now working at Ingram Micro, she recognizes the importance of communication and writing in her day-to-day job.
Vasiloff grew up in Hamburg, N.Y., spending much of her young life involved in a little bit of everything. She loved music from the start, taking opera and piano lessons, and later participating in school musicals, though she cites equestrian as her most influential hobby. After graduating from Frontier High School, she chose to attend Fredonia. “I was focused on becoming really well rounded as a young person,” she said. Vasiloff believed Fredonia could help her do that. With her passion for music, Vasiloff declared it as her primary major during her freshman year. A professor in the department quickly turned her off of the idea by saying this path was probably not for her. “And I agreed with him,” Vasiloff said. “So instead I graduated with a degree in management with a huge concentration in operations.”
True to character, during her time at Fredonia, Vasiloff was always involved in activities that were meant to better herself and those around her. While studying under Dr. Lisa Walters in operations management, “She [Dr. Walters] had said, ‘You know I’m part of this organization [American Society for Quality] and it would be great to get young people involved.’” Vasiloff remembers a lot of students being taken under Dr. Walters’ wing and together they were able to start the American Society for Quality (ASQ) at Fredonia. “Not only did that teach me how to be a leader and how to run things efficiently, but it also taught me how to run meetings,” Vasiloff said. Along with ASQ, she was very involved in another club on campus that promoted entrepreneurship in young adults: Enactus. “The fact that I was able to be so heavily involved with two great organizations that are still happening on campus, that’s a huge point of pride,” Vasiloff said.
But more than anything, Vasiloff is most proud of the relationships she had built during her time in school. She remembers Dr. Sue McNamara imparting that wisdom. “She [Dr. McNamara] was the one that really said you know, ‘focus on relationships.’” Vasiloff said.
Now working as a channel account specialist at Ingram Micro, she still listens to that advice. “In a nutshell, Ingram Micro is a technology distributor,” she said. “Ninety percent of the world’s technology comes through Ingram Micro.”
Though absolutely loving the position she is in now, Vasiloff’s first position as a support representative was, to put it lightly, overwhelming. She was expected to do well beyond what any one person could handle. “My quality of life was diminished,” she said. “I was working 15-hour days.” Vasiloff had to speak up. “I was able to build a case with management,” she said. “I had to figure out how to develop my leadership skills and I said, ‘We are losing business, because I am one person trying to do everything.’”
“Finally,” Vasiloff said, “management kind of saw that I was breaking and I was able to get additional heads hired.”
After a year of struggling, she was able to train a new team. “That was a really huge moment of pride for me, the fact that I was able to stand up for myself and become healthy and build a business for the company,” Vasiloff said. “Plus I was able to get these two awesome people jobs.” She learned that just because it’s the way something has always been done, doesn’t mean that it’s the way it’s going to have to be. “[After moving into promotion,] I got the hours I wanted and it was really huge for me,” she said. “I went from a team of three people to a team of 12 in Buffalo and 12 in Manila, Philippines, and it’s like a crazy new world just opened up.”
Vasiloff gives Fredonia a lot of credit for her ability to handle a tough situation. “I don’t think I would have been as empowered if I didn’t have the teachers that were there to encourage and guide me,” she said. “It really does come full circle.”
When it comes to the communication aspect of her job, Vasiloff has to assist others via email. “I must be able to explain things clearly, be concise and understand proper email etiquette, which is arguably the most important part of real world writing,” she said. “It [email] is a quick communication and is not intended to be used in business as novel writing.” Vasiloff believes it is important to know your audience, be aware of your tone, be clear and concise and keep it short, sweet and to the point. She recognizes that email can be tricky and lines can be easily crossed if messages are interpreted incorrectly.
Vasiloff gave two final pieces of advice to students who would soon be out in the real world. “Building and maintaining genuine, healthy relationships will get you so many places,” she said. And lastly, “Be a good listener, because graduating from college you think you know everything and you couldn’t be more wrong.”