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Alumni Panel Inspires Students Seeking Business and Management Careers

Alumni Panel Inspires Students Seeking Business and Management Careers

With expertise ranging from Human Resources to Accounting to Finance to Investment to Management, the panelists shared their experiences at the Business, Entrepreneurialism and Management Virtual Alumni Career Panel on April 7, 2021.

The panelists and their areas of expertise:
Jane Anderson – Management
Matthew Blakey – Investment
Dzung Nguyen – Accounting
Sean Sehorn – Finance
Michael Sullivan – Human Resources

For each of the panelists, PVCC was the starting point of their higher education journey. Sage words of advice included:

Sean said, “You don’t always know what you want to do, so be willing to reinvent yourself at any stage. As you progress along your career path, you may have to pivot, consider what you’re good at, and strive to be well-rounded. Don’t underestimate the opportunities available to you while in school, take advantage of these opportunities and internships.”

Acknowledging the cost of education, Matthew recommended investigating the tuition reimbursement programs that many companies offer. He encouraged students to keep an open mind, get exposure to different areas like accounting, management, economics, and psychology.  “Over time, with exploration, you will fall in love with something.” He credits the exploration process in helping him find his passion.

Both Jane and Michael emphasized that it is important to set work life balance boundaries and to prioritize multiple roles while managing external pressures that arise.

Dzung encouraged students to “find their passion and ask for advice. With passion you can sustain the pressure of your workload and you will have motivation for your innovation. Curiosity is important as well.” She spoke of the importance of meeting with your academic advisor for guidance on the coursework that will help you achieve your goals faster and more economically.

Michael suggested students “take classes that interest you, it’s affordable at the community college. I worked with an advisor to find my path. Look for opportunities and take advantage of them.” Michael went back to school at 26. He shared, “PVCC was the perfect place as I balanced work, family and everything else. I wish I had started sooner.” He encouraged students to look at all the opportunities available to them.

Jane’s advice was to “Look into different types of work and what each role requires; look for things you enjoy and talk to people who work in that area.”

As Matthew reflected upon his PVCC experience he shared, “I wish I had participated in clubs and internships to get more exposure. I took a break after community college to focus on work, and I wish I had continued my education right away.”

The panelists shared how they overcame the challenges they faced in their educational journeys. Matthew was working full-time so he found the flexibility of online classes allowed him to work more. Another challenge he faced was how to pay for school.  “Community college is affordable; at the university I applied for scholarships and the company offered tuition reimbursement.  Lots of companies want to invest in you and will pay for tuition.”

For Michael striving to balance family, work and school, he learned to prioritize what’s important and how to manage his time. After a death in his family, he shared, “I had to pick myself up and take it one day at a time.  The support systems at PVCC helped me keep going.”

Dzung faced many challenges being in a new country, from the language barrier to cultural and social differences. Because of the communication barriers, she said “I had to make double or triple the effort. I spent late nights and weekends at the Computer Commons. I utilized the LSC, the IT Staff and the Librarians. My kids also helped me with new technology.”

In response to the question on how to achieve career advancement, Jane said, “In management it’s important to manage your people well and know what’s important to them. If you raise your hand for harder tasks, you will get noticed.” Sean suggested, “Seek out putting in the extra work if you don’t understand something. Learn how to manage your people well.”

The panelists spoke to the importance of networking. Dzung encouraged students to create a LinkedIn account to build your network. Michael suggested that students can support one another by sharing job openings and helping each other become employed. Matthew suggested students talk to their professors about their experiences. “I had a professor in Banking and another in Investments. In the Finance and Investment fields you can obtain your Certified Financial Planner (CFP) license.  Your professors have backgrounds in these fields and are great resources.”

Additional advice shared:

Have a good, robust LinkedIn profile and get to know your professors as they can provide recommendations and references for you that will assist you in your job search as well as in securing internships.

It’s not always about moving up. Sometimes it’s about moving across to help build your foundation.

Passion can come in many different forms, explore new facets and pieces of business administration. Talk to people in the fields that you admire.

As someone who works in Human Resources, we look at LinkedIn and online profiles of applicants.  Internship opportunities are great because they are not a long-term commitment.  Also, there are remote, part-time internships available. Contact companies you are interested in and see if they offer internships.

Utilize Career Services as a student or alumni to have your resume reviewed. Take the feedback to heart, you’ll get positive feedback.

Resumes change over time, right now it’s about skills and expertise and how will your skills apply to the role you are applying for. Bring the best of yourself. Mirror the criteria listed in the job description on your resume. Tie in key words and skills. Customize and target your resume to each position you are applying to.  AI is now used for potential applicant position matches.

Take advantage of the Career Services webinars offered by PVCC.

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