Data Analyst Consultant, CapTech
It can be intimidating to make the jump from newly minted college graduate to full-time student in a master’s program.
Wes Weber is not easily intimidated. That’s one of the lesser-discussed advantages of chasing after a full-grown buffalo during home football games.
Wes is part of the Ralphie handler program. He and his fellow student-athletes lead the university’s live mascot onto the field before and during home football games, while also helping care for the animal when she’s out of the spotlight. It’s an obvious physical challenge to keep up with Ralphie, but the program also teaches plenty of intangibles—leadership, communication, improvisation, resilience—that translate in the boardroom.
“When you’re in the public eye like this, you learn to focus and perform under pressure,” Wes said. “When I walk in the room—whether in class or an interview—I know I can hold my own, and feel like I belong there.”
Chasing the dream—literally
The pandemic put an asterisk on his time as a handler, though, so when the opportunity to run for a fifth year as a master’s student presented itself, Wes put his professional career on hold to literally chase the dream one more time.
There aren’t many graduate students who are part of the program, so Wes is able to offer perspective that his younger teammates may not have.
“I’ve learned how to earn respect from people, while also teaching and being a good teammate—and that is a huge part of being a professional, the ability to lead and listen,” he said.
Learning to listen, in particular, has been a skill he’s developed as a graduate student. Wes said he’s fortunate enough to be attending classes with professionals who are bringing years of experience to classroom discussions, which gives him invaluable perspective on changes in business analytics.
“I don’t have the tangible workplace stories”—though he does have multiple internships, at Ball and Hi There Solutions—“but I do have the confidence and curiosity to engage in the conversation. Taking part in those discussions and learning from others is my job as a student.”
Wes came to CU because of the Ralphie program—his first memory of seeing Ralphie run was as a 10-year-old, attending a Buffs game with his father—but he’s stuck around for an extra year because he appreciates the value of the intangible skills he cultivated as an undergrad.
“You walk out of Leeds feeling prepared for anything,” Wes said. “My professors have given me the confidence and preparedness to help me feel I can do this. And it goes hand in hand with the Ralphie program of being a leader, being able to use my voice and believing in myself to get the job done, whatever it may be.”