The Ohio State University at Lima

Open mind and real-world experiences lead student to new career path

A chance encounter coupled with a determination to make the most of all opportunities has put Ohio State student Mackenzie Winters on a new path to a future in real estate and made her a firm believer in trying out different professions before committing.

“You should always want to open your eyes to something new. Life is difficult and life is hard to figure out at 18 years old, especially if you have no idea what you want to do,” Winters said. “Always take a job shadow at different places because you really don't know until you do. If you like it, then do it again.”

When the dietetics program she entered just out of high school fell through for her during the pandemic, Winters transferred to Ohio State Lima to complete a degree in business management. She tried out different aspects of business through job shadows to find the right fit for her and had every intention of going into management or marketing.

Then Winters met an Ohio Department of Transportation employee at the coffee shop where she worked and started a conversation that turned into a job shadowing opportunity and then a three-month internship at the ODOT District 1 office in Lima. Winters learned about right aways, acquisitions, easements and all the other real estate aspects that go along with keeping the roads of the state viable.

She loved the organization, the work and the people. The time Winters spent at ODOT gave her confidence that this is the kind of job she could dig into and enjoy over the long term.

“I found out that I truly loved doing real estate. I don't want to do real estate for houses. I want to do real estate for ODOT,” Winters said.

Winters is keeping the option open as she transitions to the Columbus campus as a real estate and urban analysis major. She plans to use her time in school and as an intern to try out different options and open multiple pathways for her future. She can continue working for the state as she finishes her degree. She may also try her hand at working for an appraiser she met through her ODOT supervisor. Being able to do independent appraisals will make her a stronger ODOT employee and open doors she doesn’t even know about yet.

“My possibilities are endless,” she said.