Student Spotlight: John Benz

If you know John Benz, you know that there is no one else quite like him. Perhaps the most joyful, sincere, and loving man on campus, John strives to follow God's will in all that he does. As a major in both business and humanities, John has a lot on his plate. However, you can still find him chatting with students in the RA office when he is on duty, working passionately for the development of Champions of Charity, and hanging out with the members of his household. As John would say, "You've just got to let the spirit work...he won't lead you astray".

What did you do last summer?

I spent most of my time last summer working at Barton Hills Country Club, which helped me to make some great professional connections. For example, I met the president of Ford Motors, the head scout for the Chicago Black Hawks, the head rep for Nike, and many other men and women that hold high positions in the business world. It was really great to be able to network while I was working. I still am in contact with some of those people, actually. I just had a phone conversation with a man who is the President of an insurance agency, and I talked with him about the insurance world and what his agency does. I’m trying to get a feel for all of the different opportunities that will be available to me with a degree in business. 

In addition to working at the club, I also took a few online classes. I came to Ave with the intention of being a doctor, so I was a Biochemistry major up until the second semester of my sophomore year. Now, as a double major in business and humanities, I have quite a few classes to catch up on, so it was nice to be able to do that over the summer.

Do you have any advice for people that are hesitant about switching majors?

It took me a year and a half to make the decision, but I switched from Biochemistry to a double major in Business and Humanities in the middle of my sophomore year. It was a great switch for me and the combination of the two majors works my brain in a number of different ways. Undergraduate education is all about reading, writing, and speaking, so if you can focus on those things throughout your education, all of the classes that you have taken will still have formed you as a person and had an impact on your mind. 

For example, I am really grateful that I took some biochemistry classes. Because I did, I am able to talk with people about different medical issues and understand the terminology as well as what is going on in the medical world. Even things that I have learned outside of my major still have a large impact on the way that I can communicate with people and understand the subjects of my own major. 

There are so many good things to do in the world, and so many working professionals switch jobs throughout their lives. We change and are constantly developing, so changes aren't bad. If you are at peace with making a switch, go ahead and make it! Don’t be tentative about it. Trust that Jesus is going to take care of you with the whole process. He’s molding you and walking beside you and leading you where He wants you to go. You ultimately can lead people toward Jesus through whatever you do, whether that is medicine, law, business…so many fields can have such a deep impact on people. You have to let the Holy Spirit move. 

Some decisions we make are nerve-racking but that’s okay! Jesus was fearful about a variety of different things. He understands human emotion. Ultimately, if you feel an underlying peace toward something, go ahead and do it!

Where do you see yourself after you graduate?

I certainly want to get involved in business. I think it can have a great impact on people, especially in insurance, real estate, or accounting. I’m drawn to business because there are quite a few options. It is a great way to truly encounter people and get to know them. Human beings are meant for relationship and it is through that relationship that you can grow as a person and help other people to grow with you. 

What do you plan on doing this summer to help you toward your goal?

This past weekend I was offered a position to do financial analysis work as a summer intern at McKesson, which is a fortune five company in the US that is now global. There are many pharmacy technology services, so I will be doing financial analysis work for that department. To be able to get into the corporate world and have that experience is something that I am really excited for. It's going to be a great opportunity and a good exercise to put what I have learned into practice. I had a few interviews with them, and the people who work there are really genuine individuals who I am looking forward to work beside. This is a company that has a great mission and a great vision. I know that it is large, but the branch that I will be working for is much smaller, so they have more of that team feel, which will be a great benefit for me. I can see it in the people who work there as well, that they enjoy working in smaller groups. Instead of having the individualistic feel of a large corporation, it is very team oriented. What they are doing is phenomenal. They are able to drive the prices down for a variety of pharmaceuticals and basic drugs because of the efficiency of the services that they provide, so that’s one thing that I really love about the company. To be able to tie the medical healthcare side of things in with the business side of things is something that I am really looking forward to doing.

What have you learned about yourself from being an RA?

It has been a great opportunity to interact with people and love them, even when they are not at their best sometimes. It takes a certain amount of confidence and faith that you can help someone out and also the ability to realize when you can’t. Certainly the team aspect of the job is critical and one of the most important things. Communication is key, and that is true for any real world position too, whether that's with your boss or your team. From being in the disciplinary role, I've learned that people want the truth and want to understand that you respect them to the point that you can notice when they are doing something wrong. People love to be communicated to in a very pointed way…not beating around the bush. Especially guys. Realizing that you are not right all the time too, is huge for me. You have to be willing to be critiqued to be willing to listen to other people. Ultimately it helps to form us as people. Teamwork, communication and humility are the three things from this job that have really been important to me.

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What will you take from this job into the real world?

Interviewing with companies these past few months and bringing those three things up, specifically the importance of teamwork, communication and humility, has shown me that it is something companies love to hear that you value. They want to know that you see the big picture and that you realize that you aren’t always right. They love to see young people with a desire to learn more who understand that they don’t rule the world. It is also very important to them that you can communicate well, especially in real world situations and in a corporate environment. 

How did a company like McKesson react to the fact that you went to a small liberal arts school?

A big company like this certainly looks at your resume to see where you come from. I had a great personal connection going into my interview who was someone I knew from back home, which certainly helped. The things that they said stood out about me, though, was the service that I have participated in since I have been at Ave. They love seeing young people that are willing to be part of something bigger than themselves that give of themselves more fully. They also really enjoyed seeing that I was invested in Champions of Charity and that I am motivated to be a part of an initiative that serves so many people. The interview was mostly a reflection of my character and that is really what I wanted to portray to them…who I am as an individual and what I am able to bring to their company. It’s about creating value for them. They were pretty astonished about the things that I was able to talk about with them, such as the importance of integrity, honesty, and work ethic. Students here at Ave, in particular, learn those qualities in such a special way because we are in a unique environment that emphasizes them. I think that most employers respect those things beyond belief because they are the things that drive and motivate people and create value. 

What are some tips that you would give to people going into a interview? What kind of questions do you ask when you go in?

I always ask what I will be doing on a daily basis. Based on the feedback that you get from your employer about what you’re going to be doing, you’ll get a good sense of whether or not you’ll like the job. If you aren’t going to want to be doing what they’re asking of you, why are you doing that job? Definitely ask them about the daily tasks, but also ask their personal opinion about the company - how they got to the position that they are in, what they love about their position, why they chose the company. These are the questions that I have asked all of my employers. These people love talking about their company! They have a certain sense of pride, and to be able to bring that out from them will give you a lot of personal feedback from them about what the company is all about and how it has formed them. 

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you bring?

The first thing would be a bible, I think that that goes without saying for me. The second would be a picture of my family, and third, my notebook from this past year that has notes from the great thinkers. Descartes, Paschal, Niche, Hobbes, JPII…it’s a great collection of thoughts. 

What’s your best quality?

I think that it is my ability to listen. I want to hear about other people and what they are up to. You can really learn a lot from listening and refraining from speaking.

When have you been most satisfied in your life?

Honestly, right now. I think that that has a lot to do with my faith and entrusting everything to Jesus and what He wants to do with me. I am very open to where He wants to put me and because of that He has given me some amazing opportunities, like the job this summer. He’s given me my family, and my family is the bread and butter of who I am as a person…my dad in a special way. He has given me this university and the opportunity to educate myself and practice my faith, which is a very fragile gift. I am satisfied right now because I am starting to see what God wants for me in my life and not pushing anything on my own accord. I want to influence people in a positive way, trying to be joyful and humble and honest and a man of faith, as a whole. I always want to be in a position that I am ready to die. Jesus orders everything properly and critiques and humbles me when I need to remember that He is in charge of everything. The fact that He is in charge of all 46 billion light years of this universe and that he has also made the smallest cell in my body and keeps it all together is pretty cool. Entrusting everything to Him will always make me most satisfied. 

What is your proudest accomplishment?

It's an ongoing accomplishment, but Champions of Charity. Andrew Nussbaum, Alex O’Conner, Hunter Rose, Matt Eichorn and myself have been working a lot together and have been able to see it start to grow and get a lot of support. The positive impact that it is having and is capable of having on a large scale is something that we are starting to see the fruits of. Definitely that project is something I am very proud of. It is a project that we have entrusted to the Holy Spirit, and that has brought a lot of peace. Right now, we are finalizing a contract to enhance our mission. This opportunity has come along in a very sudden way and we know that the Holy Spirit is in charge of this whole thing. I am confident that it will bring a spirit of generosity and giving into the lives of so many students.

Would you like to give a shout out to any professors that you have had?

Oh my, there are so many amazing faculty members here that have had a lasting impact on me. Dr. Curtright’s course on Thomas More was a life-changing one for me, and the work that he does is certainly very unique. Michael Sugrue is also an incredible man and has done amazing work with the humanities, being able to really educate me as a whole person, especially to see trends throughout history in the way that man has thought and acted. All of the great works that I have been immersed in have helped me to see where we are today and how we got here. Those are two professors that I admire greatly.