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Minot State graduate is passionate about life and business

Generation Next: Tanner Thompson graduated in May with an accounting degree, and says he looks forward to growing – and making an impact – in the business world.

Tanner Thompson
'During my time in PBL (Phi Beta Lambda), I've been able to take home three national first-place awards,' says Tanner Thompson, a recent graduate of Minot State University. 'I think it is the connections I've made, the people I have met, and just the world I have gotten to see that is most memorable. I would never have experienced that if it hadn't been for Minot State and for the PBL chapter.'
Image: Courtesy of Tanner Thompson
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Tanner Thompson, a recent graduate of Minot State University, has put a new face on what it means to be a business professional in the 21st century.

And he hasn’t even started his career yet.

After a conversation with Thompson, one can tell he is smart, ambitious and thoughtful – good traits for any business leader.

Thompson graduated in May with an accounting degree, and looks forward to working for a reputable company – a place, he hopes, that will appreciate what he can provide them and where he can grow his passion for business.

Originally from Ray, North Dakota, Thompson said he’d like eventually to explore the world beyond the Peace Garden State but would prefer to stay somewhere in the Midwest. This is home for him, a place where he says he feels welcome and at ease. But if he ventures farther, who knows what might come of it.

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“Now that I'm done with school, I am just trying to pursue a full-time opportunity,” he said. “I'm looking for a job that can turn into a career, that can turn into a passion. … Right now I am looking at Minot just because that's where I'm living, but I also know that I want to get away and see the world. I've lived my entire life in western North Dakota, and there's a lot in the world to see. I want to experience that at some time.”

He chose a school closer to home because, well, it was the best he could find. Its offerings matched his ambitions. Thompson said he looked at about 15 colleges across the Upper Midwest – and visited the campus nearly a half-dozen times – before he decided upon Minot State.

“Nothing could really compete,” he said. “It has a really nice business program, small class sizes with faculty who all worked in business. … It also is a university with a really good reputation in our state, in our region, for being really dedicated to students and to providing them with that real-world experience. And there is just a really good sense of community on campus.”

And, he said, the instructors were super to work with. In particular, two stand out – Jan Repnow, assistant professor, tenured, in the College of Business and who is the Phi Beta Lambda advisor; and KateLynn Albers, assistant professor also in the College of Business.

“I think of all of the knowledge she has shared with me through classes and being an advisor,” he said of Repnow. “She's a huge role model to me.”

Albers was a new faculty member during Thompson’s second year, who decided to journey back to academia after working in public accounting.

“I think of how close she has been to the world I'm living in, how she was able to relate and share that experience and really make those classes so engaging,” he said, “sharing that real-world knowledge that she gained at such a young age and how it would relate to us when we made that transition.”

They liked him, too.

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“Tanner was an extremely involved student on the Minot State campus,” Albers said. “He made his voice heard, as well as built relationships around the university from fellow students to faculty and staff. His ability to communicate and build relationships will lead him to success in wherever his career takes him. I am so proud of him and cannot wait to see what he accomplishes.”

Thompson said his most memorable experience at school was being part of Phi Beta Lambda. PBL, which is changing to Future Business Leaders of America Collegiate (FBLA-PBL), is a collegiate business organization that focuses on education, service and progress. He said the goal is to show students the opportunities that exist in the business world and how elements of business relate to all industries and fields.

Tanner Thompson-2.jpg
Tanner Thompson, second from left, said his most memorable experience at Minot State University was being part of Phi Beta Lambda, a collegiate business organization that focuses on education, service and progress. He said the goal is to show students the opportunities that exist in the business world and how elements of business relate to all industries and fields.
Image: Courtesy of Tanner Thompson

According to the school, PBL earned a 200% success rate at this year’s national conference in Chicago. Five members of the MSU chapter attended the conference, including Thompson, who served as vice president and former state president; each earned prizes or scholarships for a total of 10 recognitions.

“During my time in PBL, I've been able to take home three national first-place awards,” Thompson said. “I think it is the connections I've made, the people I have met, and just the world I have gotten to see that is most memorable. I would never have experienced that if it hadn't been for Minot State and for the PBL chapter. I think it's influenced me because it just showed me the world of opportunity you can have.”

Of those opportunities, he said he’s learned that just because a person, such as himself, received an accounting degree, doesn’t mean one has to sit in an office or cubicle for the entirety of a career. In fact, the graduate doesn’t even have to be an accountant.

“You can take all of those soft skills and quantitative analyses – all of those things your classes and coursework teaches you – and apply them to any field,” he said. “I think that's what PBL changed for me and my career goals; it taught me that I could do anything because of the skills I had learned and not what my degree says on a piece of paper.”

As he continues to grow and learn, Thompson rechecks his career goals. They change too, he said.

“As you grow as a person, your interests change, and so does where you want to take your life,” Thompson said. “I've always just wanted to grow and find a passion I love and to pursue it. … My career goal is to find a job, a career that fulfills me personally, and is not really restricted to any industry or title. I just want to find that passion and fulfillment from being in that role.”

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He also said: “I have been unbelievably grateful for my experience at Minot State University and my experiences with PBL, because I think it's really helped shape me as a person and has helped me find a path in life.”

Andrew Weeks is an award-winning journalist who has reported for a number of newspapers and magazines. He currently is the editor of Prairie Business, the premier business magazine of the northern plains. The magazine covers various industries and business topics in the Dakotas and western Minnesota.
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