CSU College of Business standout finds ‘AWESOME’ opportunities shortly after graduation

Yailynn Almaraz outside of Rockwell

Yailynn Almaraz graduated from the CSU College of Business in 2021, and now works at the Target headquarters in Minnesota (photo courtesy Yailynn Almaraz)

When Yailynn Almanza-Melendez orders a cup of coffee, she’s thinking about more than the caffeine boost that comes along with it. 

“Let’s say the beans are made in Ethiopia, and then the cups are made in another place, and you have milk from a dairy farm just outside of town, but it all comes to the same place and you’re just able to pick it up from a drive-thru and drink it?” she said. “I’ve always been fascinated by how that happens.” 

This curiosity is why Almanza-Melendez majored in supply chain management, but her desire to do so in a sustainable way led her to enroll in Colorado State University’s College of Business.

“I’ve always cared about what we, as humans, are doing to the Earth,” she said. “The truth is that corporations are a big part of the problem, but they’re also the ones who can solve it.” 

Almanza-Melendez graduated from CSU in 2021 and is now an inventory analyst at Target, managing the supply chain for berries found in the grocery section. Earning a prestigious scholarship during her third year at CSU helped propel her career – and is still giving her incredible opportunities two years later.

An ‘AWESOME’ opportunity

Yailynn at AWESOME event

Each year, an organization called AWESOME (Achieving Women’s Excellence in Supply Chain Operations, Management and Education) awards scholarships to outstanding female students from institutions across the U.S. 

Almanza-Melendez was CSU’s 2020 nomination and was one of five students across the country selected as an AWESOME scholar for 2020. 

“I was super excited because she’s such an engaged, delightful young woman and very personable,” said Professor Susan Golicic, the chair of CSU’s Management Department. “I know she’s going to do really, really well because she’s so passionate and involved and curious, and all the fantastic things that faculty love to see in our students.” 

Through the scholarship, Almanza-Melendez had the opportunity to attend a conference in 2021 (it was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic) and meet some of the people who would ultimately hire her at Target. This year, she was invited to attend a symposium organized by AWESOME’s founder, Ann Drake, where she participated in a “Rising Stars” panel – and met some of the most recognizable female leaders in the world. 

“There were people that were there who were astrophysicists and world-renowned physicians,” Almanza-Melendez said. “I had the chance to talk to Cady Coleman, an astronaut who went to the moon, and Hillary Clinton even came up to me and complimented my presentation.” 

‘The College of Business really helped develop my voice’ 

Almanza-Melendez, who grew up in Aurora, Colorado, was a first-generation college student at CSU. When Target offered her a job at its headquarters in Minneapolis, she was excited for the adventure and to try new things – and she wasn’t doing it alone. 

She’s the second CSU graduate to start her career at Target headquarters. The first? Her roommate, December 2020 graduate Lauren Cosper. She was initially chosen for a Target internship and was later hired full-time at the company, where she handles the supply chain for men’s pants and shorts. 

“CSU’s supply chain program was monumental in what and who I am today,” Cosper said. “I credit my professors and the program for opening every door that I’ve had since I’ve come to my current position.” 

Yailynn and Lauren

And now, she and Almanza-Melendez are using the lessons they’ve learned in CSU’s College of Business at one of the most recognizable companies in the U.S. 

“We’re just two supply chain girls living together and literally using our textbook as a coffee table book,” Almanza-Melendez said. “The fact that I had such a support system in the College of Business really helped me develop my voice.” 

About CSU’s College of Business

The College of Business at Colorado State University is focused on using business to create a better world.

As an AACSB-accredited business school, the College is among the top five percent of business colleges worldwide, providing programs and career support services to more than 2,500 undergraduate and 1,300 graduate students. Faculty help students across our top-ranked on-campus and online programs develop the knowledge, skills and values to navigate a rapidly evolving business world and address global challenges with sustainable business solutions. Our students are known for their creativity, work ethic and resilience—resulting in an undergraduate job offer and placement rate of over 90% within 90 days of graduation.

The College’s highly ranked programs include its Online MBA, which has been ranked the No. 1 program in Colorado by U.S. News and World Report for five years running and achieved No. 16 for employability worldwide from QS Quacquarelli Symonds. The College’s Impact MBA is also ranked by Corporate Knights as a Top 20 “Better World MBA” worldwide.