When Ryan Ackerman first applied, they told him thanks, but no thanks, but the next day they changed their minds.
He got a call back asking him to come in after all. Three interviews later, and Ackerman is now an e-commerce analyst at Puma North America.
"I’ve bought more pairs of shoes in the last month than I have in the last five years," said the 24-year-old Castleton communication major as he sported Puma sneakers and the Puma logo on his t-shirt.
His job consists of studying the performance of Puma’s North American websites and making recommendations on how they can be improved. This is just the type of job Ackerman was hoping to get after school, but he didn’t have to wait until after graduation.
While still taking one class on campus and two online, Ackerman is currently working at Puma three days a week, but this isn’t your typical work environment.
There are people playing ping-pong, riding around on Razor scooters and playing golf on the parking lot putting green.
Ackerman showed up on his first day wearing an oxford shirt and khakis.
"You would have thought I was wearing a tuxedo," he said. "I can’t even describe how cool it is."
However, this dream job didn’t just fall into his lap. Ackerman has worked very hard at Castleton to make sure these types of opportunities would be available to him in the future.
A native of the Rutland area, Ackerman traveled to Boston for his first year of school, but after taking some time off he returned home to continue his education at Castleton.
"I came in and just wanted to do everything I could. I just tried to seize every opportunity I could. That’s just kind of how I am in general. I don’t like to be sitting still," he said.
Ackerman has been going to school year round and as a result, finished his degree in six semesters. Last summer he took 21 credits (3 online courses and a 12-credit full-time internship) all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.
In his time at Castleton Ackerman displayed his talent for art and graphic design in The Spartan editorial cartoons. He also designed the logo for the natural science department, won a t-shirt design contest for Solar Fest and designed the Vermont Academy of Arts and Sciences logo.
"He puts a lot of effort into his work and really enjoys learning," said Ali Flewelling, a Castleton grad and Ackerman’s girlfriend. has given him the chance to do all of the things he loves and then some."
Getting a dream job right out of school is not very common for graduates these days. Ackerman’s advice to students would be to "do your homework."
"You’ve got to know what the hell you’re talking about," he said.
In his last interview for the Puma job, Ackerman prepared for his meeting with senior executives by studying their LinkedIn profiles.
"I got there two hours early and sat in my car reading their profiles," he said.
Ackerman mentioned a quote that has stuck with him for years from a golfer named Gary Player.
"He would say, ‘The harder I work, the luckier I get,’ and that is what has powered me through school," Ackerman said.