Our Stories

Changing Her Tune—for a Different Career

Classically trained singer finds that Owen gives her more range

Julie O'Mara
Senior Vendor Manager Office Products, Amazon, Seattle

Vanderbilt MBA 2020

During her childhood, Julie O’Mara lived in Germany for five years. After completing college and entering the job market, she set a goal for herself. “I knew I wanted to live abroad again,” she says.

But with degrees in German and Vocal Performance, she also knew that her career options were limited. “With my background,” Julie says, “it was hard to find work outside of music, and I knew that I didn’t want to pursue a master’s in music. I wanted a degree that was diverse enough that I could change course if I wanted to. Eventually, I would like to work for a company that can send me overseas.”

Julie was accepted at both Vanderbilt and another highly ranked MBA program. Originally, she says, “I had my heart set on [the other school], but my experience with them was not what I imagined it would be. It was rather cold. When Owen interviewed me, there was an abundance of hospitality.” That hospitality—and a scholarship offer—brought Julie and her dog, Archer (“my number one man”), to Nashville.

She describes the program as “a crash course of knowledge that I will use daily for the rest of my career. It helps with resiliency and leveraging your strengths with the strengths of others.”

Julie is particularly glad she chose to participate in the shared approach in the Leadership Development Program. She credits it not only with helping her better understand her strengths, but also with helping her build a group of colleagues who serve as allies, advocates, and friends she can count on for support.

Meanwhile, Julie hasn’t left her musical past behind completely. To her delight, she discovered that she could join both the Owen Band and Owen Music Club.

The first year has been transformative, especially for someone who had no prior business training. “I can look at a job description,” she says, “and I think, ‘I can do that now!’ Companies value Vanderbilt and the MBA skillset.” One such company, Mattel, hired her for a marketing internship in California. Without Vanderbilt, she says, “they wouldn’t have given me a second glance.”

Fun Fact: Julie is a classically trained opera singer, a Fulbright Scholar, and a fluent speaker of German.

“[The program] is “a crash course of knowledge that I will use daily for the rest of my career.”