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By Dylan Rimsky ‘14, Blake Bishop ‘14, and Derrick Moore ‘14
“You have to make sure you dot your i’s and cross your t’s,” counseled Danielle Flavin ’10 to the more than 100 Nichols seniors gathered at midday in Davis Hall earlier this fall.
That was just one piece of 45 minutes worth of career advice offered by Flavin and three other Nichols alumni in a wide ranging question-and-answer session that covered the transition from college life to the work force.
Flavin, an office team and division director at Robert Half International, was joined on the panel by Ryan Gervais ‘08, MBA ’10, a senior marketing associate for Deloitte Consulting LLP; Megan Sherman ’10, a PR & Event Coordinator at the New England Newspaper and Press Association; and Kevin Richardson ’12, an ERS consultant at Deloitte & Touche LLP.
Richardson suggested that the assembled seniors network actively. He added that he put his own networking skills to the test when he ran into an alumnus—a partner at Deloitte—from the class of 1982 at a Homecoming Weekend in the fall of 2011. Even though the two had talked about a position before, Richardson re-engaged his fellow Nichols grad.
“Instead of just waving and saying, ‘Hi,’” Richardson recalls, “I said to myself, ‘I’m going to over there and play a game of ping pong with him.’” The alum was impressed enough by Richardson’s initiative that he eventually offered him a job after graduation.
Gervais emphasized the importance of professionalism when transitioning into the workforce, even on the most basic levels. He stated that a major change for him was not being able to wear sweatpants and a t-shirt when he felt like dressing down. “It’s a shirt and tie type of day, everyday,” he pointed out.
That message got through to senior Matt Taylor, who said, “One thing I was surprised about was how he said be overdressed. I had always thought business casual was the way to go. Once he said that, I looked down at my collared shirt and laughed.”
Gervais said that his adjustment to the professional world was made easier by acquiring his MBA from Nichols before entering the workforce. He also stated that Nichols definitely prepared him for his interview with a company as prestigious as Deloitte. That preparation included having a good background about the company, Gervais continued, and turning the interview into a conversation and not just an interrogation. Danielle Flavin shared her experiences from the other side of the desk in interviewing job applicants for Robert Half International, a job placement company. She noted the importance of showing confidence. Have fun at the interview, she added, but know that you are there for business. Much of Megan Sherman’s advice revolved around becoming pliable as you enter the workforce. Sherman emphasized that selecting the correct career could turn into a process of trial and error. She noted that the move from her first employer Living Essentials, which produces the 5-hour Energy drink, to her current event planning job was a tough decision to make because she had a very lucrative position. “I had to get a different job because I realized that the type of marketing I was doing wasn’t the type of marketing that I wanted to do the rest of my life,” Sherman explained. “When I was ready to move, I knew I had to have a plan of action or I wasn’t going to be able to get a job that I loved. I had a plan and now I am happily at my new job.” The panel presentation was part of the Professional Development (PDS) curriculum for seniors this year. The PDS program offers a one-credit course that Nichols students have to take every year and which covers professional preparation, from developing communication skills to networking, portfolio building, and job seeking. The panelists made frequent reference to the PDS. The freshman installment includes how to manage time and prepare for a college career. Sophomore year focuses on how to set up a professional portfolio and resume. The interviewing and networking process takes center stage during junior year, along with looking for a required internship. “I definitely had choice words about PDS when I was a student at Nichols,” Gervais admitted. “But I really do see the necessity of it now.”