Anna Foster (B.A. Supply Chain Management ’10) is no stranger to dining operations and retail management at MSU. As a student, Foster got her start in food service during the design and opening of the Gallery at Snyder/Phillips, and she’s been growing her career on the banks of the Red Cedar ever since.
Since 2010, she has managed various Sparty’s convenience stores and dining halls, overseeing more than 50 full-time employees. She has served on various committees to foster continuous improvement, earned certificates to further ongoing learning and led training programs for culinary skills. Now, Foster is stepping into a new role as the on-campus Starbucks service manager, delivering solutions and improving operations for the global coffee brand’s three locations at MSU.
Find out more about Foster, her new role and her advice to fellow Spartans in this Q&A.
What is your passion, and how does this tie into the work you’re taking on at MSU in this new role?
I am passionate about food and people! I am in the business of coffee/food, people and supporting our community with Starbucks at MSU. I am fortunate that (in my unplanned and unorthodox way) I have found myself in a position that is aligned with my core values, Starbucks, as well as the values we have as Spartans. We at MSU Starbucks strive to inspire and nurture the human spirit; one person, one cup, one neighborhood at a time.
What motivated you to pursue this role?
I wanted to get back into retail and learn something new. This role allows me to gain corporate experience with Starbucks operations and utilize my experience to help continue to build the brand at MSU. I am excited to join this team and explore the possibilities to improve our operations.
In this role, I also have the opportunity to open a “We Proudly Serve” Starbucks location in the new STEM building, which is being constructed in the center of campus. This is going to be a great collaborative space at MSU, and I look forward to helping create an inclusive environment for our students, faculty/staff and community partners to continue their academic success in a great space.
What are you looking forward to doing in this role?
I am looking forward to improving our business model to support the brand and continuing to build on our customer relationships. Our team consists of some new managers and nearly all students working in the operations, who I am excited to provide support for in their growth and professional development plans. We have great chemistry, and I look forward to achieving really great things as a team!
How did your time at the Broad College prepare you for your career?
The supply chain management curriculum covers a wide range of business-related topics [that] allowed me to move around during my career and participate in committees that are outside of my normal daily work routine. My final years [as a student] consisted of a lot of presentations and preparing business reports, which allowed me to step into a leadership role after graduation and feel confident.
While in undergrad, I also worked for the university in one of the Culinary Services residential dining halls as a student cook. I applied many of the skills I learned in the classroom to my work in the dining halls on campus and leading my peers to get a meal prepared and served. The combination of the classroom and work experience prepared me very well for my professional career.
What advice do you have for current and future Spartans?
Don’t focus so much on the “right” path, and instead find your path; whatever that may look like is meant to be, and that is OK. I feel like so many students get wrapped up into what they should be doing that they lose their personal vision of who they are and what makes them happy. Don’t lose yourself in the crazy journey of job hunting or that rabbit hole of “Who do I want to be when I grow up?”
Also, as long as you can handle it, get a job while in college so you have an area to apply skills you are learning and practice being a good employee. It is worth the extra stress and will pay off when you are in that job interview impressing future employers with leadership skills and stories you learned while still pursuing a degree.
The best trait you can demonstrate for an employer is coachability — and the best place to find good coaches is working on a college campus, where we work with students every day because we enjoy developing others. There are so many ways to continue your education outside of the classroom, and I think working on campus is the easiest way to expand your learning. You also get paid to learn on the job. You can’t beat that!