Derek Hayes aims to someday establish a company that "specializes in making
people's dreams come true," as he puts it. The idea will be to provide individuals
with whatever resources they need to fulfill their career aspirations -- setting up
their own business, for example.
"I guess you could say I'm trying to invent (the field) a little, but it is more an amalgamation of different knowledge and disciplines," he says of his own career goal. "It's a combination of multiple fields -- investment, for sure, and then just being a good contact person."
The Fairfield, Iowa, native, an economics major at Knox, recently got a taste of the world of international commerce.
He worked last summer in Oslo, Norway, as an intern for Fearntank, the oil tanker division of the Astrup Fearnley shipping services group. Fearntank brokers assist in the negotiation of what often are multimillion-dollar contracts between ship owners and anyone who wants to move goods.
By observing the brokers, Hayes learned about the complexities of transporting a shipload of oil from one place to another. But first, he needed a crash course on the basics of shipping cargo.
"Everybody in the (Fearntank) building inherently understood things like ship size, how you measure cargo, how cargo is unloaded. I didn't know any of that," he recalls.
Hayes began by hunting for information in books and applying the study techniques he has used at Knox. But he soon concluded that the best strategy was simply to pepper his colleagues with questions. Before long, he knew enough about the ship brokering industry to ask about the details of how brokers develop -- and maintain -- good relationships with business associates.
The experience gave him a sense of how business is conducted in different parts of the world.
"That was huge," says Hayes. "In America, it's one way. In Europe, it's another way. In Asia, it's another way. To learn all those little intricacies was really fascinating."
He also had some time for fun. A member of the Ultimate Frisbee Club at Knox College, Hayes took in breathtaking views of Norway's fjords, hiked in the mountains, attended theatrical performances and toured museums dedicated to the history of Vikings and the maritime industry.
Hayes, who has taken Chinese-language courses while at Knox, plans to seek a full-time job at Fearntank that would enable him to live in either Oslo or Beijing, China.
Hayes says the internship in Norway, as well as his overall experience as a member of the Knox community, have helped him improve his interpersonal skills.
President of the Knox chapter of Sigma Chi fraternity, Hayes says this about his time at Knox:
"It's stretched the way I think. It's allowed me to see every side of a problem or an issue ... and to understand where everyone's coming from in a situation so that problems can be resolved smoothly and effectively."