A linguist tackles the language of business
Andrew Campion, Sonoma Valley High School ’08, in the hallways of the Georgetown McDonough School of Business during his undergrad years.
In his junior year at Georgetown University, Sonoma Valley High School graduate Andrew Campion (’08) received word that he had been selected as America’s top, university, Turkish language learner by the American Association of Teachers of Turkic Languages and the Turkish Studies Association.
In three short years since leaving Sonoma with no plan to study Turkish, how did Campion get from here to there? It turns out he took advantage of a unique basket of opportunities to live in and travel to Turkey repeatedly throughout his college career, usually at no cost to himself.
It began when he won a highly-selective, critical-language scholarship for the study of Turkish from the U.S. Department of State his sophomore year to study at Yeditepe University in Istanbul.
He was one of just 50 American students chosen. The following spring and summer, he spent nine months living in Izmir, Turkey, attending class at Dokuz Eylül University (where all classes were taught in Turkish), and doing an internship at the University Department of Commerce in Izmir.
He lived with Turkish family friends and immersed himself in an environment where he was the only American student at his university. “It was a very enlightening experience; I like to immerse myself in new cultures and environments and hit the ground running.”
During his internship in Turkey, Campion had the opportunity to support American companies interested in entering the Turkish market. “I always wanted to work in the field of business, but this opportunity helped me to realize that I wanted to begin a career in consulting, because I’m fascinated by business strategy and analyzing all the aspects of what creates a well-functioning business, especially in a foreign market. Turkey has huge promise, given that it has consistently had one of the fastest growing economies for the last few years, and it is one of the foremost military members of NATO.”
Today, while he’s only 23, Campion is a strategy and transformation analyst for IBM Global Business Services, which includes the consulting branch of IBM. His primary client right now is the U.S. Department of Defense where he is working on a project for the U.S. Air Force at the Pentagon. He just finished a long project with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Oil and Natural Gas.
Campion’s success in landing such a notable job after graduation can be credited in large part to work experience he obtained while at Georgetown, including internships at the Turkey Coalition, at the U.S. House of Representatives (in Lynn Woolsey’s office) and at The White House, all of which helped to immerse him in the governmental landscape. His work today at IBM is primarily government-focused, as it is public sector consulting.
Outside of work, Campion lives in the northern part of Washington, D.C, near the National Zoo. He likes to exercise, spend time with his girlfriend and his friends from Georgetown, and he continues to be interested in learning new languages. He graduated from Georgetown last spring and promptly took off for a four-month trip throughout Europe, traveling to France, Iceland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Hungary and Turkey.
“Much can change in the next few years, but I know that I want to stay in consulting for a while,” he said. “Eventually, I would like to start my own company – following in the footsteps of my mother, who started Sonoma Syrup Company – that is aligned with my interests in Turkey, the Caucasus and Central Asia.”
The road to Campion’s success perhaps began with his choice of Georgetown University and the great opportunities he searched out in those first years of college. So how did Campion end up at Georgetown? He explained that, “I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and explore a new part of the country, and Georgetown was the perfect opportunity.” He was impressed by its undergraduate business program, the McDonough School of Business, and its location in D.C. lends strength to its international business program.
But Campion looked at the whole package. “Georgetown was also attractive to me from the sports and activities perspective,” he said. “It is home to a powerhouse Big East basketball team, the Georgetown Hoyas.” He was excited to be enrolled at a school with a Division 1 team, and he rowed on Georgetown’s varsity men’s lightweight crew team his freshman year.
“I learned so much about team ethics, working together, and even about struggle as captain of Sonoma’s waterpolo team, and with crew in college. All of these experiences were formative and have helped me to deal with challenges in my current business career.”
Campion figured out through the process of applying to colleges, and through meeting his peers in his first months at Georgetown, that colleges and universities want passionate students, and that it is not about the breadth of your experiences, but more about the depth. “Admissions officers are searching for students who have put together a real story about what it is that interests them and what they have done to achieve milestones that align with those interests,” he advised. “Try to be the best at what you do; don’t spread yourself too thin.” He sympathizes with Sonoma Valley High students waiting to hear from colleges right now. “Just know that you will be accepted somewhere and it is up to you to make the best of your experience,” he added.