Success Stories

We are forever proud of our phenomenal UpTurns and are honored and humbled to share their success stories. 

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Tessa Ferguson
2015 UpTurn 

Finding The

Right Fit

Before her senior year at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Tessa Ferguson applied for a communications internship at U.S. Bank. This proved to be the start of a successful career at the company, in which she has held multiple positions on the Enterprise Communications team. After spending some time at Room & Board as a Senior Internal Communications Specialist, she recently returned to U.S. Bank as a Communications Manager.


A member of the 2015 UpTurnships Class, Tessa completed a Marketing internship through the program. Along the way, she met professional mentors who provided guidance and support that helped her on her professional path. “Without UpTurnships’ help, I wouldn’t have had the opportunities that started my career,” Tessa says.


Later, during her internship with U.S. Bank, she learned she enjoyed creating employee-facing content. She enjoys this work, she says, because it helps simplify the jobs of others and gives all employees a voice, creating a strong company culture. When Tessa’s internship with U.S. Bank concluded, she received a full-time offer to join the company’s Enterprise Communications team.


Last month, Tessa accepted a new position at U.S. Bank as a Communications Manager. Tessa says, “This position provides so much potential for growth, and I hope to utilize this opportunity to expand my knowledge base.” She is excited about the role because she believes it gives her a great opportunity to take on new responsibilities.


With many different career options, it can be difficult for some young communications professionals to find their place in the industry. To current UpTurns interested in communications, Tessa says, “Be open to all opportunities that come your way – the communications field is incredibly broad, and you never know what doors may open.”

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Rita Bernardo
2017 UpTurn 

Working With

A Purpose

Driven to support her community, Rita Bernardo is motivated to promote sustainability and social equity through her background in economics and statistics. Through UpTurnships, she completed an internship conducting competitive research for Sun Country Airlines in 2017. In 2019, Rita graduated from St. Catherine’s University, majoring in Economics with a minor in Statistics.


Currently, Rita works as a Workforce Fellow in the National Science Foundation INCLUDES SEAS Islands Alliance program at the University of Guam Center for Island Sustainability. There, she is developing the Guam Green Growth Dashboard, a project tracking the Island’s progress towards achieving its sustainability goals.


Rita works with government agencies, non-profits, and global partners to establish data collection protocols. “I have been challenged to think more openly about how data and narratives can be shared in a respectful format and the dialogue that takes place during the data collection process,” Rita says.


Growing up in Guam and later traveling abroad, she witnessed how well-designed cities can empower people to live healthier, more fulfilling lives. One day, she hopes to establish a global consultancy firm that helps islands to integrate sustainable locally informed and culturally driven urban solutions. To achieve this, she will be attending Harvard Graduate School of Design in the Fall to pursue a Master’s in Urban Planning.


To current UpTurns, Rita says, “You may be surprised at how prepared you have become at the end of the program and the ability you have to take on opportunities that you least expect,” She points to salary negotiation, resume building, PDIA, and networking as skills UpTurnships taught which have been beneficial to her professional development.

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Ratana Chheng
2021 UpTurn 

Giving Back to

Your Community

Upon first hearing about UpTurnships, Ratana Chheng saw a tremendous opportunity to improve her professional skills and gain practical, on-the-job experience. Through the program, she began to feel more confident in her skills and experiences. Furthermore, Ratana says she became more comfortable networking. She also completed a project for Maurices, working on data analysis to help give recommendations as the company increased its digital marketing efforts.


Graduating from Gustavus Adolphus College this spring, Ratana has already secured her first full-time position, which she will begin after completing her undergraduate degree. With the help of UpTurnships, she set up an interview for an internship. However, Ratana informed the company she preferred a full-time position. “After some time, they got back to me, and they offered me a full-time position. So, UpTurnships helped me with that,” Ratana says. In the spring, she will begin working as an associate auditor at Intact Specialty Insurance.


In addition to establishing her own financial independence, she also hopes to support others in her home country. One day, Ratana wants to use her knowledge to create both a business and a program to provide a quality education to the country’s youth.


Additionally, Ratana hopes to create an online registry of businesses in Cambodia that offer high-quality products and services. Ratana believes this would help combat the misconception in the country that domestic products are lower quality than those which are imported.


For current and future UpTurns, Ratana has two pieces of advice. Frist, they should leverage their experiences from classes, projects, and previous internships. “Just because you don’t have full-time experience yet, doesn’t mean you are not a good candidate for a job,” Ratana says. She also recommends seeking out mentorship from experienced professionals and listening to their advice.

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Delroy Mangal
2018 UpTurn 

Preparing for a

Successful Career

When Delroy Mangal attended Carleton College, he brought with him a life-long interest for math and problem-solving. Knowing he wanted to pursue a profession in which he could implement these skills, Delroy had envisioned a career in video game development. Upon taking a computer science course during his freshman year, he realized a new passion for coding. In 2019, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and currently works as a consultant software developer at ThoughtWorks.


In his current position, Delroy enjoys the flexibility, as well as the opportunities for collaboration with others. “Bouncing ideas off of others while I create software is something I really enjoy about my job.” Delroy says.


Delroy credits UpTurnships’ training with helping him prepare to launch his career. The skills he acquired through the program helped him become more confident networking with professionals and preparing for interviews.


With a strong network developed through UpTurnships, Delroy learned how to navigate different situations as a young professional. He says having people to help support him gave him an advantage he would not have had otherwise. “Having people to call whenever I need some advice on anything on the workforce is very helpful.”


To UpTurns interested in a computer science or IT career, Delroy’s advice is to know what is expected when interviewing. In particular, he recommends perusing Cracking the Coding Interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell, and having a solid understanding of data structures and object-oriented programming principles.

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Nazih Safi
2016 UpTurn 

Expanding on

Professional Skills

An UpTurnships alum from the class of 2016, Nazih has a deep interest in business analytics, economics, and statistics. In his current role in the Consulting Development Program at Optum, he has gotten a chance to work on a variety of different projects since joining the company in 2017, shortly after graduating from Augsburg University.


As an undergraduate, Nazih originally began studying chemistry. Upon taking more math and economics courses, he developed an interest in statistics. As Nazih began learning more about business analytics and predictive modeling, he found that he could combine his interests in economics and mathematics. In particular, he became drawn to data and predictive analytics. “It’s mind blowing to me, it’s the closest we can get to predicting the future,” Nazih says.


Through UpTurnships, Nazih says he better learned how to grow relationships within his professional network. He still stays in touch with his mentors from UpTurnships as well as others whom he has met through his experience at Optum.


To current and future UpTurns, Nazih’s advice is to take the program seriously. “What you put in is what you get out,” Nazih says. “So, the more you take it seriously and treat it like a real job in the limited time you have, the better off you will be.” He also recommends taking in as much as possible from speakers and mentors. Because of this, Nazih felt the transition from UpTurnships to his full-time position was made easy.


Starting Summer 2022, Nazih will return to school as a part of the MSBA program at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities.  With this degree, he hopes to gain more experience working with statistics, data, predictive modeling, trend analytics, and more that can help his career in the moving forward.

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Imani James
2015 UpTurn 

Pursuing an

Advanced Degree

Imani joined UpTurnships in the summer of 2015. Immediately, she felt a connection with the organization and her coaches. Through the program, Imani learned how to carry her confidence and formed professional relationships that helped her land multiple paid internships during college. After completing her summer internship through UpTurnships, she completed an internship with the marketing agency GdB during her senior year at Gustavus Adolphus College.


At that time, she began having conversations about grad school. “I was talking to my mentors and wondering when I should go to grad school because I knew that I wanted to be a professor,” Imani says. Ultimately, she decided to first join the work in marketing recruiting and later the Air Force National Guard with the goal of attending graduate school and earning an advanced degree without building additional student debt. In 2020, she was accepted to Texas State University where she is now in pursuit of a Master of Arts degree in Communication Studies.


For current UpTurns considering going to grad school, Imani’s advice is to not be intimidated. While the process can feel scary at times, she says to, “Remember that you

have already learned how to be a student and in grad school, you will take that up a notch.”


According to Imani, the encouragement and guidance she received from her coaches and peers at UpTurnships helped her feel like she could accomplish anything. “UpTurnships provided me with so many skills and opportunities that helped me early in my career,” Imani says.

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Teresa Nguyen
2018 UpTurn 

Building Confidence

From Your Experience

In 2018, Teresa joined UpTurnships during her sophomore year at Augsburg University. In her time with the program, she worked as a marketing intern at CaringBridge. The following school year, she secured an internship at 3M. After graduating in spring 2020, she joined Empowering Health as a social worker. Then, in September of 2021, she began a new role with the company, currently holding the position of marketing lead.


Her favorite part of the position is having the ability to present her unique ideas. One of her first projects is establishing a new internship program that helps high school students get real-world experience to give them a leg up in college. Teresa says her experience as an UpTurn has already helped with the project.


Teresa credits the professional network she built through UpTurnships with helping her land a very competitive internship at 3M during college. She is always glad to hear from coaches and mentors that she met through the UpTurnships. “It’s really nice to know that they keep me in their hearts and minds,” Teresa says.


During her time with UpTurnships, she developed more confidence in a professional setting and gained valuable career insights. Teresa says, “UpTurnships taught me how to be confident and stand my ground, but how to do so in a professional manner."


Outside of work, Teresa has been doing a lot of reading and is a big fan of poetry. She also enjoys learning about solo traveling and would like to see the world and experience new cultures.

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Sydne Carlson
2019 UpTurn 

Working towards

Your Passion

Meet Sydne, a 2019 UpTurn with a recent degree in Accounting and Marketing from St. Catherine’s University. Sydne was a sophomore when she went through the UpTurnships program. Since then, she has interned at both Boyum Barenscheer and Ecolab as well as being an accounting tutor at St. Kate’s. Sydne is now a part of Ecolab’s 3-year Finance Rotational Program with her current position being in Global Consolidation. She’s 4 weeks in and learning a lot. Being that Ecolab is a global company, she gets to interact with people from around the world.

Sydne credits the UpTurnships program for setting her up for success in interviews. She mentioned “I was good at talking about myself or my experiences until going through UpTurnships. UpTurnships gave me a lot of confidence in what I am capable of doing and my strengths. They give you coaches that are there to help you succeed.” Her advice for future UpTurns is to take many notes, ask tons of questions, and don’t forget to cherish your time with everyone.

In her free time, Sydne enjoys traveling, painting, and crafting. She recently got a puppy which is keeping her quite busy. In 5 years, Sydne sees herself as a homeowner, happily married, and working in a job that she loves and is passionate about.

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Pragya Karmacharya
2020 UpTurn 

Utilizing the

Diversity in Your Background

Pragya is a 2020 UpTurn alum who just graduated from St. Catherine's University with a degree in Communication Studies and Psychology with a minor in English. Upon graduating, she started a marketing internship at 3M through the 3M Frontline internship program where she is currently working in Global Customer Education. She's enjoying building meaningful connections with her team and other people working at 3M. She is able to get a lot of advice and learn from a variety of people. She mentioned that the pandemic removed some of the transportation and physical location barriers that have prevented her from taking opportunities in the past. She has been able to work remotely and still create relationships while making an impact through her work.

Pragya shared that "UpTurnships really set me up well to network. I learned a lot about what kinds of questions to ask and how to not only gain a lot from the quick interactions, but also provide mutual feelings of success to the person I am speaking with. UpTurnships was my first experience with a remote internship and I really appreciate the trainings on professionalism on video, zoom etiquette and how to talk to other people and ask questions." 

Pragya's advice to incoming UpTurns is "If you see a problem, find a solution and share it with someone who can make that change happen. It is so important to utilize the diversity behind your background to share and improve the world around you- even when that world is your internship space."

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Pang Xiong
2016 UpTurn

The Importance of

Being Your Authentic Self

Pang is a 2016 UpTurn alum who is currently working as a Client Service Coordinator at Cedar Cove Wealth Partners. She wears many hats in her role including the Marketing and Event planning hat. She also works closely with their clients on evolving their accounts and products. One thing she loves about her work is the generous impact her team strives to achieve in the lives of their clients and within the community.


Pang likes to keep herself busy in her free time by Hmong dancing, teaching dance, working on her podcast with her 2 good friends, and working out at the gym. Pang is also on the Board of Directors at Lutheran Social Services. 


During her time in UpTurnships she learned that your professional growth doesn't end after you leave the UpTurnships program. She said, "You will continue to learn new things as society and our current environment evolve. Never give up on yourself and keep asking the hard questions." One piece of advice she has for future UpTurns is “In every step and chapter of your journey, be your authentic self. It may be out of your comfort zone but there is a lesson to learn so you can work on being a better version of yourself than who you were yesterday.”