Name: Jody Cox ’06
Current job position (or additional field of study) and where:
Owner and Lead Designer at An Affair to Remember
Marketing, Spanish Minor
Why did you choose MU?
After a long weekend visiting colleges in northern Illinois, my mom suggested stopping by Millikin on the way home. The visit up north was relatively disappointing, so I was less than thrilled to make another stop. But Mom was right. We fell in love with the campus and really enjoyed the tour hosted by one of the students. I met some great people who were also looking at the university and spoke with a few professors and coaches who were impressive. After the tour, it was an easy decision: Millikin was the place for me. I liked the campus size — not too small so that you knew everyone, but not so large you would get lost in the shuffle. I wanted a smaller class size where my professors were accessible and participation and questions were welcomed in class. The faculty I met on our tours made me feel they were there to help me succeed, and they were. The professors at Millikin and especially in Tabor have a very hands-on, real-world approach to teaching that is unmatched.
What activities did you participate in as a student?
I’m not sure I can remember every organization I participated in at Millikin, but I know I tried to be involved in as many as I possibly could. I had four off-campus internships during my time at Millikin and participated in many clubs and organizations. Millikin stressed the importance of being involved and having internships to help build your network and your experience. That certainly helped me when I came back to Decatur and started a business. It also rings true in every aspect of a professional career after college. The more you get involved in volunteer work, professional organizations and an active social life, the larger your network will be and the more opportunities you will have.
What is your most memorable MU experience?
There isn’t one single experience at Millikin that comes to mind as the most memorable, as there were so many, both socially and educationally. But I believe that each experience, both good and bad, helped define who I am today in a personal and professional sense. College isn’t just about learning a trade; it’s about growing as a person and honing critical thinking skills. Millikin focuses on a well-rounded education and while there are rules and expectations, I feel the professors give students the freedom to make mistakes and correct them. Sometimes failing teaches you a better lesson than succeeding.
What is one concept you learned at Millikin that you use in your work regularly?
Self-discipline and a strong work ethic. My Tabor professors always treated us like adults. They expected us to problem-solve, both on individual and group projects; to turn in quality work on time and act professionally. I can’t say my classmates or I always met those standards, but there were consequences when we didn’t. I welcomed that environment because I was raised in a similar fashion. Not everyone thrives in an environment like that and, most often, those same people do not thrive in the business world. As a small business owner, I continue to use that work ethic, discipline and focus every day.
What do you enjoy most about your current job?
Owning a business is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, but I wouldn’t choose to have it any other way. The pride and rewards are unlike any other job I’ve held. Like most small business owners, I get to have my hands in every aspect of the business – from marketing and finances to day-to-day operations. Success and failure ends with you when your name is on the door. It’s exciting, it’s working 24/7, and it’s pouring your heart and soul into something that you’ve created so that hopefully you can watch it grow and prosper.
What have you done that you are most proud of since graduating from MU?
Having a successful business is something I am very proud of, but I am most proud of how I’ve tried to conduct myself in the professional world. I’ve tried my best to treat my vendors, my clients and other professionals I encounter like friends and family. I have formed some great relationships, helped lots of people and other businesses, and they have done the same for me. It’s rewarding on an entirely different level; it makes your work truly enjoyable. My parents taught me to treat others with respect and kindness and my professors at Millikin reiterated how important it is to network and work well with others. You catch more flies with honey, as they say, and it’s not just true in the business world, but for life in general.
Where do you hope to be five years from now?
We’re currently relocating the business to the St. Louis area, and I hope that in five years, we’ve expanded our team and our reach in that community. I’m always looking for new opportunities, so maybe we’ll add additional services, open another branch or start a new business!
What advice would you give to current Millikin students about preparing for life after graduation?
Just having a college degree isn’t enough anymore. You need to differentiate yourself from the rest of those who are graduating. While you’re in school, stack your resume with internship experiences, co-curricular activities at the executive level, and projects that you’ve started and executed. Be results-minded and take initiative. Employers want to know that you’re focused on results, that you’re goal-oriented and don’t need to be micromanaged. Always be thinking two steps ahead.
Want to be spotlighted as the "Young Alum of the Month?" We are seeking recommendations and self-nominations for outstanding young alumni who have demonstrated innovative and responsible professional leadership and have the potential for future success. Email Jaclyn Weisenborn ’09, associate director of alumni engagement, with a short write-up of why you or your nominee should be considered for this profile. Please include a list of successes and achievements in your nomination, and attach a portrait or headshot (if available). One alum will be featured each month in MY Times.