Half a world away and more than a decade later, Xiaoqi Wu, MBA’22 still has the calendar she made with her father.
A do-it-yourselfer and career military man, Wu’s dad was only able to come home once a year. At age 12, Wu hoped he would be able to attend her primary school graduation.
“He said, ‘We can create a calendar together so you can count the days until I come home,’” said Wu. “It’s very special to me.”
Toymaking is now a family tradition for Wu, who first built a toy car with her father when she was 6 years old. They’ve since made dozens of toys together.
“I really cherished the time he was home,” said Wu, a student in Brandeis International Business School’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) program.
The tradition is so important and meaningful to Wu that she still makes homemade toys with her fiance. It’s also shaping her future career path.
“I never thought about starting a career in the toy industry because that was family time,” said Wu. “And then the Career Coach in my MBA Career Strategy and Management Communication course asked us to think about what our passion is. I told her about toys, and she said, ‘Oh, let me introduce you to Alan Hassenfeld.’”
Hassenfeld, the retired chairman and CEO of multinational toy company Hasbro, Inc., has deep connections to Brandeis. He serves as co-chair of the International Business School’s Board of Advisors and is the benefactor of both the university’s Hassenfeld Family Innovation Center and the business school’s Hassenfeld Immersion Program.
After connecting with Hassenfeld and learning more about the company, Wu eventually applied for an internship at Hasbro.
“I found my comfort zone because I knew how to tell my story,” said Wu. “I prepared my cover letter and really wanted to showcase my passion.”
That passion paid off, and the fit was perfect. Wu landed the internship with Hasbro’s marketing team, experiencing first-hand the process of designing a new toy from scratch and conducting a brand review and market analysis.
“When introducing myself, I showed them what kinds of toys I made,” said Wu. “That really impressed my team members and supervisors.”
Wu hopes to work in the field of market analysis after graduation. She now has a depth of real-world experience, not only at Hasbro but with online retail giant Alibaba and a startup toy company in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Whether or not they will influence her ultimate career trajectory, toys will always be a cherished part of her life — one she is excited to continue with her 1-year-old son.
“I’ve loved keeping this habit into adulthood,” said Wu. “My fiance and I make anniversary gifts together and I made a Mickey Mouse toy for my son. Making toys isn’t just a hobby for me. It’s part of my life. It helped me make connections with the most important people in my life.”