Posted on December 4, 2023 by Rebekah Alegria

Born and raised in San Antonio and in close proximity to the university, Jeremiah Follis has been influenced by the richness of UTSA culture his whole life.

Jeremiah Follis

The oldest of nine children, he often found himself navigating a path to success independently, without many close role models to guide him. With a heart for communicating and understanding others' needs, Follis set his sights on obtaining a career in marketing. Doing just that, he will cross the stage this fall with a B.B.A. in Marketing from the UTSA Carlos Alvarez College of Business and move to Seattle, Washington to begin a career with Microsoft.

During your time at UTSA, what organizations have you been involved with?

Throughout my time at UTSA, I've been actively involved in various organizations, with a special focus on business clubs. The most impactful for me has been my participation in the American Marketing Association (AMA). The experience has been enriching; not only did I gain valuable insights from their lectures and presentations, but the networking opportunities with fellow students have been particularly rewarding. What I've cherished most, though, are the events UTSA organizes for student organizations. These gatherings have been a fantastic way to make friends across different clubs, and they have significantly enriched my university experience!

Why did you choose to major in marketing at the Carlos Alvarez College of Business?

My journey to majoring in marketing at UTSA started with a childhood desire to help others, though initially, I wasn't sure how to channel this aspiration. As a kid, I was more drawn to video games and technology, and in school, my interests leaned toward reading and writing--reflecting my creative side. When it came to deciding a major for my degree, a desire for a change led me to explore a career in health as a biology major, with an aim to become a pharmacist. I thought this path would be both financially rewarding and align with my interest in health and psychology. However, while studying, I took up a retail job at Microsoft, working at both North Star Mall and La Cantera Mall. This experience was a turning point. It wasn't just about technology; it was about connecting with people, understanding their needs and helping them with my knowledge. I found myself evolving from an introvert to an extrovert, driven by the joy of helping customers and enhancing my own skills, particularly in storytelling and communication. This transformation sparked a realization. I wanted to reach a broader audience, to help more people, and I saw the potential to do this through marketing. The decision to switch majors wasn't easy, especially considering the perceived financial risks compared to a more traditional path like pharmacy. But I chose passion over certainty. Now, as I prepare to graduate and start my career at Microsoft, I see that my choice wasn't just about following my heart; it's about combining my passion with a career that promises both personal fulfillment and professional success.

Do you have any professional work experience or internships you have taken part in?

My professional journey began after working retail with Microsoft. When the stores closed, I was promoted to a role in customer success and sales. I started as a customer service associate and then advanced to a customer success manager. In this role, I conducted trainings for various organizations in San Antonio, including notable clients like the Spurs organization and H-E-B, particularly focusing on Microsoft Teams and the Microsoft product suite during the COVID-19 pandemic. After my tenure at Microsoft, I pursued a marketing internship at Rackspace Technology. The interview process was intense, but ultimately successful, leading to a 10-month internship with a promise of full-time employment upon graduation. Concurrently, I was also exploring other opportunities and managed to secure a position as a cloud marketing intern at Microsoft for the summer of 2023. This internship, based in Redmond, Washington, was a transformative experience. It allowed me to network, learn from mentors and peers and work with Microsoft’s vendors. One of these vendors, 3Sharp, offered me the opportunity to join them as an Associate Marketing Consultant, a position I currently hold while completing my degree at UTSA. My time at Microsoft, Rackspace and 3Sharp has been invaluable, providing me with a rich, practical understanding of marketing in a professional setting and setting the stage for my post-graduation career.

What have been some of your proudest accomplishments at UTSA?

One of my proudest accomplishments at UTSA, specifically at the Carlos Alvarez College of Business, is the opportunity I've had to learn from numerous successful individuals in the field of marketing. These experiences have not only enriched my knowledge, but also allowed me to connect and engage meaningfully with my peers. We've had many insightful discussions about marketing strategies, industry trends and real-world applications, which have been incredibly rewarding. Additionally, I take pride in being able to share my own experiences and insights with others who are curious or seeking guidance. It's been fulfilling to help fellow students navigate their paths and succeed in their endeavors. Participation in business organizations, especially the American Marketing Association, has been another highlight of my time at UTSA. Being involved in AMA has provided me with invaluable experiences, from networking to gaining practical skills, which have significantly contributed to my professional and personal growth.

What is your favorite thing about being a Roadrunner? What will you miss?

My favorite aspect of being a Roadrunner is undoubtedly the vibrant culture of UTSA, which mirrors the spirit of San Antonio so closely. This unique atmosphere fosters engaging conversations with peers about various current events and, of course, our shared passion for football. There's a real sense of community and camaraderie here. What I'll miss most, however, is the extraordinary school spirit that defines UTSA. Despite not being the largest university, UTSA has an incredibly large heart, and its spirit is palpable and inspiring. I will particularly miss being part of UTSA's underdog culture, where the sense of unity and determination in the face of challenges brings everyone together. It's this unique blend of community, spirit and resilience that I'll carry with me long after graduation.

What are your plans upon graduating from UTSA this fall?

After graduating this fall, I'm thrilled about the significant milestones ahead. The most personal and exciting plan is my wedding with my fiancée, whom I met here at UTSA. We've shared countless memories in the Business Building, making it a very special place for both of us. Professionally, I am delighted to share that I've received and accepted an offer from Microsoft to join as a Product Marketing Manager, starting in the fall of 2024! This opportunity is not only a testament to my hard work and the skills I've developed at UTSA, but it's also a dream come true, allowing me to merge my passion for technology and marketing in a role at a leading global company.

What advice do you have for current business students?

My advice to current business students is to approach your career journey as if it were a video game. Focus on leveling up yourself. This means constantly seeking ways to progress, step-by-step, toward your career goals. During my time at Microsoft retail, I set my sights on becoming a Product Marketing Manager. I diligently researched the role's requirements and began working toward meeting them. I invested time in educating myself about the position, including watching lectures on YouTube and networking with professionals already in similar roles. This approach of immersing myself in the field I aspired to join significantly bridged the gap between my current position and my career goals. Remember, networking and securing internships are crucial steps on this path. There really is no such thing as too many internships. Each one provides invaluable experience and brings you closer to where you want to be. Surround yourself with the environment you aspire to join, and you'll find yourself moving steadily toward your goal. Also, education is not everything in the realm of business!

Do you have any interesting talents or any fun facts about yourself you'd like to share?

As a kid, I wasn't always at the top of my class academically, but I had a secret weapon: I was an exceptional Halo player. This might sound like just a fun fact, but it's more than that. My prowess in Halo wasn't just about gaming; it taught me valuable lessons in competitiveness and strategy. Once I figured out how to channel this competitive spirit into real-life scenarios, it became a game-changer for me. This transition from virtual battles to real-world challenges wasn't just about success; it was about transformation. I evolved from a shy introvert into a dynamic extrovert. I discovered that when you're truly passionate about something – much like I was about Halo and later about my products at Microsoft – it stops being about selling. It becomes a mission to share something you believe in. It's less about convincing and more about passionately spreading the word. So, in a way, my journey from a Halo champion to a marketing enthusiast has been an adventure of its own, full of unexpected turns and thrilling achievements!

Final words

I'd like to start by giving a special shoutout to my fiancée, Melanie Solis. Since meeting her, she's taught me the invaluable lesson of appreciating the small joys in life. Her encouragement was a major reason I decided to share my journey, in the hopes of inspiring others. Melanie has an incredible way of complementing my strengths and weaknesses, helping me become the best version of myself. A big thank you to my future employer, Microsoft, not only for their groundbreaking work in productivity tools, but also for creating platforms like LinkedIn. The opportunities and connections I've made through this professional network have been instrumental in my career development. I am deeply grateful to UTSA for this opportunity to share my business journey. Their nurturing educational environment and resources have been pivotal in my development as a business student. Lastly, my heartfelt thanks go to all my mentors, peers and the members of the AMA club. Their guidance and support have been crucial in helping me discover and pursue my passion for helping others. I'm excited about where life has taken me, and it all started with a simple search and a helping hand from these wonderful people.

— Rebekah Alegria