img-philiplaper-photos-2013Phillip Laper

International Business

Class of 2012

Phillip Laper made the most of his time at MSOE. The international business major was involved in student organizations, spread his entrepreneurial wings and even studied abroad! “MSOE isn’t strictly an engineering school. There are plenty of classes and majors not related to engineering!”

“Aside from picking a major, getting involved with a campus organization is perhaps one of the best and most important decisions you can make,” said Phillip. “Not only do these organizations allow you to be involved with something that interests you or supplements your major, they are also great ways to meet other people on campus and find common interests. MSOE has student organizations dealing with everything from fencing to business leadership to community activism.”

Phillip was actively involved in Phi Beta Lamba/Future Business Leaders of America, one of MSOE’s many student organizations. It was through PBL/FBLA that Phillip and a few friends came up with the idea to open the Blatz Café, a small coffee shop that was once located near the MSOE campus in the Blatz Condominiums. The café was entirely run and managed by students of MSOE’s Rader School of Business.

The student-led business venture served not only as a coffee shop, but also as a method through which students applied the business-oriented education they received while attending MSOE. All aspects of the café, from marketing, to accounting, to operations management were handled by a team of experienced students from various business-oriented majors.

About the Blatz Cafe:

“Every advisor, professor, counselor and student will tell you how important it is to get involved on campus. It helps you stay active, allows you meet to new people, and also helps to develop some interests outside your major,” said Phillip. Then he laughed and added, “There is, however, another advantage to being involved on campus—free food!”

On a more serious note, he said, “My advice to all new, returning and potential students: Meeting people is an active effort. Go out. Try new things. Talk to people who don’t live on your floor and who aren’t in your major. Even on a small campus, you’d be surprised how much diversity you can find once you start poking around.”

Get Involved on Campus

Phillip was a District Office Intern in the U.S. House of Representatives for Congressman Paul Ryan (who, you may recall, was the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2012).Congressman Ryan represents the constituents of Wisconsin’s first congressional district. “My responsibilities included providing administrative support to the congressman and his staff, communicating with constituents and local businesses, assisting constituents in the affairs with government agencies, and organizing and cataloging media articles concerning Congressman Ryan. This was definitely one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. Working for the U.S. Congress is intense though—it definitely helped me develop a thicker skin.”

As an international business major, Phillip had the opportunity to study abroad in Germany at the Lübeck University of Applied Sciences. He spent his junior year at Lübeck. “Between high school and college, I spent a total of two years abroad. In that time, I managed to visit about a dozen different countries, got a personal tour of Germany’s federal government by a member of parliament, and met the German president and chancellor. You simply never know what opportunities are waiting for you.

More than that, though, the experience of studying abroad really shows you that you can find common ground with anyone. I really became much more confident as a person and much more comfortable in my own skin while I was away.  It’s not always easy, but I’ve never met anyone who regretted studying abroad.”

Study Abroad

Studying abroad didn’t delay Phillip’s graduation. In fact, Phillip received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Engineering from Lübeck, in addition to his international business degree from MSOE. “With the dual degrees from the international business program and the experience of studying abroad, my academic credentials were really strong as I was applying to graduate school. I ended up being accepted to some of the best economics programs in the country. Beyond graduate school, my degrees really opened some doors for me. A number of organizations expressed interest in bringing me on full time.  Since I knew I was going to grad school, I couldn’t really do that…but it was definitely a good feeling.”

Phillip is currently working on his master’s degree in applied economics.

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