Breanna Harmelink
Business Process Manager and Project Manager, Diamond Vogel, Orange City, Iowa
Breanna Harmelink

From intern to manager

After observing her dad at work, Breanna felt drawn to the manufacturing industry. Her experiences in Northwestern’s business department gave her confidence that a management major would lend itself to a variety of career opportunities in the field. She was right—an internship at Diamond Vogel in Orange City led to a full-time role after graduation, and eighteen months later, she was promoted to manager.

Describe your current role. What are some of your key tasks from day to day?
I work with managers and supervisors throughout Diamond Vogel to define, document and improve our business processes. This involves process auditing, documenting workflows, and assisting in training and metric development. I am also on a team of four project managers who are leading the charge on a significant enterprise resource planning implementation project. Together, we manage the tasks for the project and coordinate with various levels of the organization to accomplish our goals.

How has your Northwestern education benefited your career?
I graduated from Northwestern knowing I had received a well-rounded education, but I never imagined how much I would appreciate the variety of courses I took until I started my career.  My business classes certainly set me up for success, but even courses outside my major like chemistry, first-year seminar and literary studies taught me valuable skills that I use daily. Northwestern’s liberal arts education taught me to be a practical, critical thinker and encouraged me to think outside the box to apply knowledge in real-world settings.

What are the strengths of Northwestern’s business department?
Northwestern’s business department gives students a multifaceted education that prepares them to succeed in a variety of business careers. The business professors have real-world experience, which means they understand the value and balance of both classroom learning and hands-on experience. Whether that means inviting professionals from the community to talk in their classes, playing Monopoly to apply accounting principles, or going on business department trips, they understand the need to help students practically apply what they learn.

How would you describe NWC professors?
My professors truly cared about me as a person—they wanted to see me excel in the classroom, but they also wanted to prepare me to excel in life too. Northwestern professors are incredibly approachable and accessible. They always made time for me, even if it was outside their normal office hours. In one instance, I talked to a professor on the phone at 10 the night before a test because she wanted to ensure I felt confident in the course material and prepared to succeed on the exam.

What did you enjoy most about residence life?
Dorm life was one of my favorite parts of my college experience. I lived in Fern Smith Hall for three years and met some of my closest friends there. Some memories include wing dinners, discipleship groups, spontaneous late-night snack breaks and having deeply meaningful conversations while brushing our teeth. Residence life at Northwestern taught me how to invest in others, be vulnerable, and appreciate the unique skills, talents and passions God has gifted to each person. 

How did NWC prepare you to lead a life of significance?
Each NWC diploma represents more than a tradition of academic excellence—it represents lessons in faith, relationships and being part of a community, among many other things. Northwestern prepared me to live a life that honors the Lord in my career, church, community and family. I learned that the most important thing in life is not how much money we make or how successful we are—it’s about using our gifts to pursue God’s redeeming work in the world and show others the grace and salvation we have in Jesus Christ.