Providence, R.I. — Providence College students networked with and received valuable career advice from alumni in multiple fields at the 6th annual “Pathways to Success” Business Conference sponsored by the Future Friar Executives (FFE).
The FFE is a student-run business club that strives to provide educational and professional opportunities for its members. The club was supported in presenting the conference by three sponsors: the School of Business, the Office of Career Services, and the Office of Alumni Relations. Conference co-chairs were Jennifer Anello ’13 (Basking Ridge, N.J.) and Megan Quann ’13 (Randolph, N.J.).
Held in Moore Hall on a recent Saturday, the conference attracted approximately 65 undergraduates from all four class years. Eight alumni and the parent of a current PC student offered career anecdotes and advice in a series of workshops and a “3 Under 30” panel presentation. One of the presenters, Kristen Gallagher ’95, a sales consulting senior manager for Oracle, spoke to students via Skype from California.
The conference opened with a keynote address by Jack Hayes ’89, director of athletics at Hofstra University.
One of the attendees, Justine Harrington ’12 (Hanover, Mass.), pointed to the value of the conference, noting she gained an internship with the Boston Celtics by attending last year’s event.
“There are alumni willing to embrace the network as well. Once you come to PC, you stay a part of the network,” she said.
“The event was very interesting, and it had great speakers,” said Matthew McKee ’14 (Old Saybrook, Conn.). “Mr. Hayes’ keynote speech especially provided me with insightful information and encouraged me to embrace networking.”
In addition to Gallagher and Hayes, conference presenters were:
• Lauren Jones ’05, director of policy and communications, Office of Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray
• Jeff Scharpf ’14P, trader with Bank of America Merrill Lynch
• Jeff Serowik ’90, president, Pro Ambitions Hockey, Inc.
• Elizabeth Ray ’84, vice president, development, The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts
• Pete Mongelli ’07, strategic project manager, 89 Degrees, and owner of a photography business
• Kevin Higgins ’10, associate financial analyst, EMC Corporation
• Michaela Shaw ’09, retail operations coordinator, Alex & Ani
Hayes: career choice critical
At the conference’s outset, students were welcomed in remarks by Collin Kennedy ’12 (Stratford, Conn.), FFE president; Dr. MaryJane Lenon, interim dean of the School of Business and associate professor of economics; and Bob Ferreira ’83, assistant vice president for alumni relations in the Office of Institutional Advancement. Anello then introduced the keynote speaker, Hayes.
Telling students they could expect to work for about 45 years, Hayes encouraged them to find a career they enjoy.
“Find something you like, that you are passionate about, that motivates you. It’s to your benefit,” he stated.
Hofstra’s athletic director since 2004, Hayes gave a synopsis of his career and followed it up with suggestions on how to choose and carry out a career path. For him, athletics and athletic administration were natural interests, he said.
So, he got involved early with a summer student position in PC athletics, an internship at Brown University after he graduated from the College, and later with positions at the University of Connecticut, where he attained a master’s degree in education with a concentration in sport management. The responsibilities he had, the experience he gained, and the contacts he developed all helped him land athletic administration posts and eventually, the leadership role at Hofstra, he said.
Hayes, who majored in sociology at PC, suggested formulating a career plan as an undergraduate and taking “applicable” course work that would include writing and oral communication skills. Once in a position, an employee should not get caught up in a job title but rather be concerned with depth of responsibility and visibility, he said.
Lastly, employees must continue to be an asset in their work environment and seek personal and professional development opportunities, emphasized Hayes, who oversees 17 Division I teams, 90 coaches and administrative staff members, and 350 student-athletes.
“You need to find ways to grow, to learn, to contribute, to be involved, and to lead,” he said.
Alumni trio leads panel
Another of the conference’s features was the “3 Under 30” panel comprising Mongelli, Higgins, and Shaw. The trio shared academic and professional advice with students, including how to best utilize their time at PC, how to prepare for interviews, how to network, and what type of jobs are available.
Higgins, a former FFE president, said that an individual’s major does not “pigeon-hole” a student to a career. Mongelli and Shaw agreed and said that PC gave them skill-sets and the ability to balance their social and academic lives.
“You need to understand balance. At most jobs, you are wearing lots of different hats,” said Shaw.
Mongelli advised students to position themselves as leaders in the PC community and familiarize themselves with potential employers.
He said, “Research its mission and discover what the company stands for. Become a leader for something or someone you can stand by.”
“You must also do what you love,” added Shaw. “I was a political science major. I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, but I always had a passion for fashion. Now, I work for a jewelry company.”
Throughout the panel discussion, students were engaged and responsive. Mike English ’12 (River Forest, Ill.) said, “The alumni who are here may know someone who can open doors. Students are building a network with alumni who care.”
At the close of the day’s events, Stacey Moulton, associate director for career services, said, “Each of the panelists expressed a passion for their fields. Find what you love and do it.”
--Genevieve Marie Ilg ’14
Watch a video from the FFE Business Conference, and check out the FFE conference photo gallery.