Will Shanahan ’20, a double major in economics and international political economy, is making sure his resume will be jampacked with local and international business experience by the time he graduates.

Will spent last summer as a marketing and communications intern at World Trade Center Tacoma as part of Puget Sound's Reflective Immersive Sophomore Experience (RISE) program. He is now six weeks into KeyBank’s Retail Management Associate program, a retail sales and leadership program that he’ll complete over the next two summers. A dual citizen of the United States and Japan, Will spent the first 10 years of his life in Tokyo, and then his family moved to Mercer Island, Washington. He says his early years in Japan’s largest city sparked his interest in economics, finance, and marketing.

We visited Will at KeyBank's South Tacoma branch to discuss his penchant for busy summers, passion for business and economics, plans for the future, and more.


Q: What intrigued you about World Trade Center Tacoma?
Originally the name “World Trade Center” caught my eye. I looked into what they do and learned that they help small-to-medium-size enterprises enter the global market. They provide services and consulting that lower the barrier of entry to global business, and I was really drawn to that mission. I've always been fascinated with the world market, probably from growing up in Japan. Eventually this interest brought me to World Trade Center Tacoma, hoping to gain some insight.

Q: What did you enjoy most about your experience at World Trade Center Tacoma?
It was my first time working in a very structured organization. Learning how they operate and how different entities come together to collaborate was very interesting. Before going into it, I was naïve in the sense that I thought it should just be easy; like, you just find a buyer and connect them to a supplier here, but there's a lot of complicated logistics that go into it—especially when there are multiple companies, firms, or organizations working together from different ends of the globe. Learning about that was very eye-opening.

Q: How did you learn about KeyBank’s Retail Management Associate Program and what led you to apply?
A: KeyBank actually came to the career fair on campus. I just went up and talked to the representatives and somehow managed to get an interview. During the interview process I asked a lot of questions about what their firm is about and how they build relationships with the communities they have branches in. I learned that they're very big into philanthropy and they do a lot of donations and community service. I'm in a fraternity on campus, Sigma Chi, and I found that very relatable and personable, and that's why I pursued the opportunity.

Q: Are you interested in opportunities with KeyBank following your graduation this spring?
A: Absolutely. Through this program I’ll work as a bank teller this and next summer and then, if I do well, they’ll offer me a position as an LRM, which stands for licensed retail manager. I would be promoted to a banker and, after passing a license exam, would be able to give out loans.

Q: Has there been anything unexpected about your KeyBank experience thus far?
A: Definitely. Sometimes people talk about how being on a college campus can be like living in a bit of a bubble. What they mean by that, I think, is that on campus we engage [in] and discuss social justice, politics, and different kinds of activism, but maybe sometimes from a distance. Working as a bank teller, especially down on 84th and Pacific in South Tacoma, it’s been eye-opening at times to see the financial situations of different people from very different backgrounds. I’m a numbers guy, and sometimes these numbers can really tell a story. It's a reality check and an awakening, not only to see what's going on with people in Tacoma, but even generally across the country. It also makes me grateful for my parents and the opportunities I’ve had.