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21 Women Making An Impact: Caryn Olson, Event & Social Media Leader, SCHEELS

Caryn Olson
  • United Way Volunteer and Investor
  • United Way 35 Under 35 Women’s Leadership Program Alumna and Volunteer
  • United Way Employee Campaign Coordinator

What is one lesson you have learned? How did you learn it?

One of my favorite learning moments happened in college when I was interning in the Athletic Department at NDSU. We had a media timeout during a basketball game that didn’t go as smoothly as it should have and afterward, in a fairly spicy conversation about preparedness, my intern advisor said these words that have really stuck with me, “In marketing, no one knows what you’re doing until you do it wrong. So don’t screw it up.” Those words are a regular motivator to make sure I’m always prepared and thinking several steps ahead. I’ve taught that to everyone I’ve trained in every role I’ve had since.

What has helped you be successful in your career?

I credit my accomplishments to my work ethic. I was a farm kid and I watched my dad and brothers work hard every day. I didn’t always understand why, but I knew it was important to work hard. It was and still is one of my goals to be the hardest worker on whatever team I was on. I’m thankful that I have learned that lesson young and I hope that my dad and brothers know how grateful I am to have learned that from them.

The other critical piece is relationship building both personally and professionally. There’s nothing more important than forming relationships whether that’s vendor partners, friendships or relationships with community members. Life is easier and way more fun when you have a strong network!

What advice do you have for women trying to build their professional careers?

Hustle. Network. Persist. Look for opportunity, but don’t be an opportunist.

And find yourself a great group of girlfriends! Women are competitive. The right circle of friends is so important. A dear friend shared this quote in group chat today and it couldn’t be more fitting: Having the right circle of women around you is honestly the biggest life upgrade. Ladies – learn that as early as you possibly can!

You have been a United Way volunteer for many years – how has your volunteer experience impacted your career?

My first experience with United Way was when I was asked to run our SCHEELS Employee Campaign. The crew at United Way made it so easy to get involved and to learn about opportunities to make a difference in our community and the experiences and programming that they offered to young professionals. I was honored to be selected for the 2013 United Way 35 Under 35 Women’s Leadership Program. What I was hoping to gain from the United Way 35 Under 35 Women’s Leadership Program was a broader network and polish my skill set to help me to continue to grow as a leader. What I actually gained was a deeper and more personal experience that made me want to be a bigger part of what SCHEELS was doing to support our community. I’m forever grateful that the United Way 35 Under 35 Women’s Leadership Program was the catalyst to the most rewarding part of my position, supporting the community.

Why is giving back important to you?

Simply put, giving makes you feel good! I feel fortunate that I am in a position to be able to give and invest in others and in our community. I’m even more grateful to work for a company that values giving at the core of its culture.

What do you think?

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Written by Brady Drake

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