From University of Portland to ESTEEM

Author: Gene Stowe

Tori ZellerhoffTori Zellerhoff

Victoria Zellerhoff came to ESTEEM from the University of Portland (UP), Notre Dame’s sister school in Oregon, to add business skills to the excellent technical background she gained with her mechanical engineering major and biology minor. She also found a national reputation, an unparalleled alumni network, overflowing career fairs, and an actual football team (Portland’s disbanded in 66 years ago, hence “Undefeated since 1950”). 

“UP is really similar to Notre Dame in a lot of ways,” Zellerhoff says. “Your professors always want to help you learn and are always available to you, which is not something that happens at most universities. They also both focus on more than just academics; they realize that other passions in your life are important to pursue and combine with your academic interests. But, unlike UP, Notre Dame is known very well across the country, having that recognition anywhere I go is important when applying to jobs. The alumni network helps with this too, by connecting at networking events, career fairs, and on LinkedIn I’ve been able to learn more about companies and about the career path people in positions I am interested in have taken.”

Zellerhoff, who ran on the track and cross-country teams at the University of Portland, enjoys the Notre Dame campus where she can run around the lakes. She also enjoys her cohort’s soccer team that enjoyed success in Thursday night intramural games. “The campus has overall impressed me,” she says. “It has so much to offer from the many business competitions to watching the presidential debate on the quad to joining club gymnastics. Of course, I was really excited for Notre Dame football as well.”

Zellerhoff is working with Manufacturing Technology Inc., a 90-year-old South Bend company, on a technology that reduces the cost of traditional friction welding by lowering the amount of force necessary. She expects to go into product or program management, preferably in a field related to health and fitness, and perhaps as an intrapreneur in an established company.  

“To do that, you have to be able to oversee a product from the first time you think about it all the way to entering the market and beyond,” she says. “ESTEEM teaches you those business skills, the marketing, the accounting, the marketing research, and how to complete a business model canvas. ESTEEM is unique from other programs mainly due to the capstone thesis, which allows us to immediately apply what we’re learning in the classroom to a company’s new innovation, a research laboratory’s discovery, or your own start up. UP gave me a really good technical background, now I am augmenting it with the business skills needed to succeed in the real world.”