“Ask an Alum”- Economics student to Buyer @ Fred Hutch

Judy Nickelson graduated from UW-Seattle in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a minor in Japanese. Judy is now a Buyer II in Purchasing for Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center. While at UW, she was career focused and attended many Career & Internship Center events to help in her career search process. She was also the founder of Supply & Demand, along with the Vice President of the Korean Undergraduate Business Review. To connect with Judy about her journey and current position, email her at judy.k.nickelson@gmail.com.

We asked Judy some questions about her career journey and advise to help launch her fellow huskies to success! Here is what Judy had to say:

In what ways did your UW education support or advance your career?

“My interest in career advancement really began when I started a new student organization at UW called Supply and Demand. I knew my fellow Economics students looking for a way to experience personal growth, meet new friends, and have some fun outside the class. I saw the potential for growth, so I worked with Economics department staffs for RSO registration. We started off with 10 Facebook group members and after 2 quarters, we had over 70 members. We had opportunities to invite alumni and local professionals for networking sessions. Also, Patrick Chidsey’s Career strategy and Job search course also really helped me with self-exploration, investigation of career options and development of career and job search strategy. Don’t be afraid to work with your departmental staff and use Career Center as a resource!”

Why did you choose to pursue a career in your field?

“There were many influences that went into my decision to select Supply Chain Management. One of my early mentors that I met at UW networking event led by Career Center encouraged me to explore as many as opportunities I can before graduation, so I did 4 internships before I became a Full Time Buyer in Purchasing. This was the combination of my career research along with mentors who helped to solidify my decision. One reason I particularly enjoy supply chain and the challenges that go along with it, is the ability to directly participate in the business and to generate improvements to both customer and financial measures.”

How is your current career the same or different than what you thought it would be when you began college?

“Majoring in Economics provided the opportunity to critically think and gain an understanding and appreciation for our global economy. My 4 internships helped me to get an inside view into the world of International Trade, Accounting, Market Research, Operations work in each field.”

What is something you wish you knew about finding a career while you were an undergrad?

“Importance of self-awareness! Economics is such a broad major that I knew I could find a niche that would allow me to utilize my interest in Economic theories of supply and demand as well as my desire to help business with right price, right quality and right time”

What advice do you have for current students looking at stepping into your career path?

“This applies to everyone! Start building your career network – Please reach out to alumni and local professionals on LinkedIn for informational interviews. Find a mentor or talk to a UW career coach! Take advantage of Career Center and get help from faculty and staff – Yes, I know you’re busy but if you haven’t taken time to stop by the career center or departmental counselor you should do so ASAP. They can help you with your resume and even advice on how to connect with alumni.”

What are top skills your industry is looking for in new hires?

“Communication, time-management and negotiation skills”


By Izzy Wroblewski
Izzy Wroblewski