Allison Walker '10

Status: Class of 2010

Major: Marketing and International Business

Hometown: Beacon Falls, Connecticut

Worked: 20 Hours/Week on and off Campus

Tuition Assistance: 75 Percent Covered by Scholarships and Grants

Current Employment: Research Analyst for Nielsen

Student Debt: Approximately $10,000

When Allison Walker ’10 came to campus for the first week of classes her freshman year, it was the first time she saw the residence hall she’d be living in. It was the first time she had met her adviser. And it was the first time she saw Cayuga Lake from high on South Hill.

It was the first time she’d ever set foot on campus.

“It was really scary,” she says. “I wouldn’t recommend anyone else doing that.”

Walker chose Ithaca College because it gave her the most scholarship money of all the schools she applied to, and, seeing as she was paying for school all on her own, she needed as much as she could get.

Scholarships and grants largely covered the cost of attendance her first two years, and she worked in Dining Services—at La Vincita—for spending money. Walker made up most of the difference her junior and senior years by taking out loans and working in the dean’s office at the business school, Abercrombie & Fitch at the mall, a local burrito place, and by doing web development for a small, local sustainable energy company.

In her “free time” she was involved with the Women in Business Network, volunteered as a Career Services peer counselor, and played competitive Ultimate Frisbee. She even coached elementary and middle school students in Frisbee.

She graduated with a 3.8 and started work a week later at Nielsen. Two and a half years later, she’s a senior research analyst there, working in new product development and sales forecasting for brands like L’Oreal and Energizer. She researches things like what color a product’s package should be and how much advertising should be put behind it.

Since so many of Nielsen’s methods are proprietary and can’t be taught in schools, Walker says it’s the softer skills she learned at IC—like time management, clear writing, presentation skills, and effective communication—that have helped her the most in her career.

And while IC set her on the path to a good career, she’s not done paying for her education. She still owes about $10,000. She says her payments are about $150 a month, but she makes double and triple payments when she’s able to, so she can pay down more of the principal and less interest.

Preparation, she says, is key. “I did a pretty good job preparing myself with scholarships, so my debt was minimal,” she says. “I was lucky to understand the value of my education. While it is very expensive, I was OK with the cost because in the end it was worth it.”

Walker likened it to paying for retirement now rather than later. “My boyfriend makes fun of me because I put the max in toward my retirement, and sometimes it’s tough to get by,” she says. “But it will be even tougher to get by when I’m 70, and I don’t want to be working when I’m 70.”

Read more about the value of an IC education here.