How Alexis Messersmith let her interests guide her educational experience

If the Daniels College of Business was a planet, Alexis Messersmith would be one of its most well-traveled residents.

By the time she leaves Daniels in June, she’ll have taken classes in five different degree tracks, on her way to a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s degree in management. She has utilized the College’s certification and independent study opportunities to make the most of her time on campus.

While the journey has been filled with twists and turns, there’s a driving motivation behind Messersmith’s voyage across Daniels. She’s melding her business talents with her personal tastes to create a lasting career.

Messersmith began her career at Daniels in 2018, at the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management. She had worked in restaurants and yacht clubs and was hoping to gain a deeper understanding of the ins and outs of that world.

Then, COVID-19 struck and the hospitality industry froze. Messersmith took that opportunity to reevaluate her options. For the first time, she decided to change paths in her education, landing on finance, primarily because she excelled at it. She’d also add a minor in ethics and legal studies to round out her undergraduate experience at the University of Denver.

“I had no plan of being a lawyer and going into that field, but I thought it was important to have that base knowledge,” she said.

When graduation came calling and the rest of her classmates were lining up their first jobs, Messersmith looked around at the flurry of opportunities, but still wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to chase.

“I took a step back and said, ‘I’m not ready to be done with college yet,’” she said.

For the past year, Messersmith has been working to earn a graduate degree in management. She’s also finishing a certification in digital marketing and an independent study in construction management. Certificates are a flexible part of the education options at Daniels: Students can start with a certificate, then choose to continue and complete a master’s program.

Messersmith isn’t surprised that her college journey has gone in this direction. She admits that she often takes the road less traveled.

“I’m not stuck in one avenue. I’m never the type of person to take the same street, I’ll take a different way around,” she said. “I have the opportunity in my career to go different places because of what I’ve learned, which I think is really unique.”

Messersmith also isn’t afraid to advocate for herself and has taken full advantage of Daniels’ education resources through her construction management independent study. When a trip to Las Vegas for the National Association of Home Builders International Builders’ Show came across her radar, Messersmith dove in headfirst. She’s become passionate about the construction industry and is exploring a career in that space, so this show was the perfect opportunity to learn and network.

Working with faculty member Eric Holt, Messersmith was able to turn the trip into an independent study opportunity. She produced a report on using virtual reality to build custom homes and how that has changed the financials behind building. That project will be crucial as she pursues a career in construction.

“It was one of my best decisions,” she said. “I would be proud to show an employer my work.”

After exploring Daniels in her five years on campus, Messersmith is ready to take the next step with a clearer vision of her future. She’s explored jobs in aerospace and sales in the past but is now set on a career in construction. Her ideal position places her in New York City, working at a remodel homebuilder that does high-end projects in an operations or scheduling position.

“Because I have such a broad range of information and understanding, I just need someone to give me a chance,” Messersmith said.