A growing number of recent Nichols graduates and the major companies hiring them are establishing an employment pipeline benefiting both sides.
Corporations including Webster-based MAPFRE Commerce Insurance Company, banking giant State Street Corporation in Boston, the regionally prominent accounting firm AAFCPAs, and internationally known Enterprise Rent-A-Car have hired more than two dozen men and women from the last four graduating classes, with more on the way from the Nichols Class of ’17.
“It’s wonderful to have employers who hire in quantity,” says Elizabeth Horgan, who directs the Nichols Career and Professional Development Center. She ticks off the list of desirable background and qualities that Nichols students bring to the work world. “Their professionalism, communication skills, and ability to present themselves make a big difference,” she says, adding that any leadership positions they have had on campus burnish their credentials.
It has also helped, Horgan adds, that Nichols has forged connections with companies that might otherwise be harder to approach. An AAFCPAs founder sits on the Nichols Advisory Board. Neighboring MAPFRE Commerce Insurance has welcomed a long line of Nichols grads, and former Chairman of the college’s Board of Trustees and frequent benefactor Gerald Fels led the company for decades.
State Street’s Entry-Level Recruitment Strategy Manager and Nichols MBA Nancy Gervais visits the campus frequently. Enterprise, meanwhile, sponsors the college’s annual business etiquette dinner.
The attractiveness of Nichols job applicants often begins when these companies come to campus for the college’s annual Job and Internship Fair in March, and with extra visits throughout the academic year.
“Enterprise, MAPFRE, and State Street come to the fair every year, and we can count on them to collect resumes and contact students later,” Horgan notes. “Our students at these companies clearly are representing our brand and doing such a good job that these employers are coming back for more.”
AAFCPAs’ Talent Management Director Donna Angelico values what Nichols graduates have to offer. “There’s a practical focus to the way they’re trained—what it means to be a successful accountant and employee,” she explains. “They also have training in writing and good business skills. That’s what a lot of colleges are missing today.”
Horgan emphasizes the advantages of working at large companies right out of college. “A lot of them have great training programs,” she points out.
State Street’s Gervais agrees, underscoring the corporation’s Future Focus Program, which provides its participants an accelerated track to promotion.
Angelico says that her company gives new employees what amounts to a guided tour to find what position works best for them. “Over the first two years, they have the opportunity to work in a number of different niches, so they can try out and see where they want to focus,” she says.
Senior Accounting major Mary Daly (pictured) will be joining AAFCPAs after her May graduation. “For me, there’s a lot of room for growth in a firm like AAFCPAs,” she says. “They’re continuing to expand and ultimately this job could turn into a lifelong career there.”
The same possibilities exist at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, says Enterprise Talent Acquisition Specialist Heidi Helveston. She notes that all new hires start behind the rental counter and work their way up the management ladder. In their eight to 12 months in that entry-level position, Helveston continues, they also get considerable exposure from their managers to areas such as finance, marketing, and logistics. And with 7200 rental offices and a vast administrative staff, she adds, the career options at the company are not limited.
“We staff all organizational areas. If someone doesn’t see himself or herself as the future vice president of rentals, there are the human resources, risk management care sales, and business departments, Helveston explains. There’s never a dead end. There’s always somewhere else to go.”
Helveston—who hired five Nichols grads this past year—has gone beyond the traditional campus visit, even modeling successful interview practices for Nichols classes. “We have spent a lot of time doing mock interviews,” she explains, adding that she pays special attention to the college’s Professional Development Seminar (PDS). “I can definitely tell the difference of Nichols students in their resumes, interviews, and even small things like shaking hands and making small talk.”
Along those lines, Helveston’s office sponsors the annual business etiquette dinner at Nichols, where future employees put those skills to work with some potential employers, Enterprise and AAFCPAs among them.
Helveston adds that a job with a major corporation pays unique dividends. “Being backed by a large household name looks great on your resume,” she concludes.