Business grad took advantage of community-driven projects to break out of his shell
Joel Copenheaver looks back on what has made him successful so early in his career and immediately recalls a decision he made his freshman year at York College of Pennsylvania that brought him out of his shell.
“I was shy at the time – as a lot of freshmen are,” he says. “But, I was very driven.”
He’d go on to graduate Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration, majoring in Entrepreneurship, in 2016.
Today, he’s a Senior Sales Reporting Analyst with the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated in Charlotte, N.C., and it’s quite a position for someone he probably would not even recognize before he came to college.
Coming out of his shell
Joel remembers that awkward feeling of being the shy freshman on campus.
Soon, though, he discovered the Enactus Club at the Graham School of Business, a service club that helps the community while letting the students learn and build knowledge of business.
Although he knew the organization’s great reputation, Joel says he wasn’t sure he was ready to commit as a freshman. He went to an involvement fair, where an upperclassman told him to come to a meeting.
That decision changed his path.
“I kind of wanted to push it off until later in my four years,” he says. “I came to one of the first meetings, with 50-60 people and there was a lot of energy and activity regarding the projects.”
At a future meeting, he was offered an entry-level leadership position.
“I decided to take advantage of it, face my fear, and conquer it,” he says today.
A lasting effect
Joel joined the Presentation Team and was designated to deliver a 17-minute presentation of the team's various projects to panels of Fortune 500 executives. About a month later, he became Enactus Club president late in his sophomore year.
During his time as president, the group from York College placed 48th out of more than 500 teams. The experience has had a lasting effect on a bright young mind.
“The experience was tremendously helpful. I would lead board meetings, while working on a ton of different projects. It was a long way from someone not sure they wanted to join right away,” Joel added.
“That was one of most mind-boggling things. If you would’ve seen me as a freshman to the end of my sophomore year, I went from I couldn’t talk in front of two people to presenting in front of leaders of businesses you hear about on TV.”
‘Best experience of my life ‘
While York College is known for encouraging its students to learn outside of the classroom, whether in an academic, internship or other setting, Joel took that to a whole new level.
He did quality internships as many York College students do, but he also took the opportunity to travel and learn outside of the U.S.
He spent two consecutive spring breaks in El Salvador doing volunteer work with the Enactus Club. He also studied abroad during the first semester of his senior year, at the prestigious Bond University in Queensland, Australia.
“It was the best experience of my life. I was more well-rounded because of it, and I loved Australia,” he says. “Bond had a few professors that were entrepreneurs teaching classes. I learned a lot from them. It was a real eye-opener. I came to realize how much I was into traveling and photography.”
Thanking York College
These experiences enabled him to land a job locally with the Snyder-Lance company, as a sales analyst before moving on to Coca-Cola.
Today, his duties at the company include helping to analyze company performance of the globally known product through sales metrics such as volume, gross profit and market share. He also prepares executive summaries for key people within the organization.
“There are a lot of huge presentations I report on,” he says. “I break down sales metrics for a certain time frame, in a certain territory. I’ll use one territory as a benchmark verses others around the country, trying to provide as much visibility in sales performance to senior leadership.”
Often, he’ll think about how far he’s come as a person since the day he stepped foot on campus. He thinks about that decision he made his freshman year – how he took advantage of it, faced his fears, and conquered it.
“I attribute almost everything to my first couple years at York College,” he says. “It’s helped me become who I am today.”