Becoming the CEO of My Life
It’s crazy to think that my time at Bentley is almost over. The fact that in just about a month I will be crossing the stage to get my diploma is just SO weird as it feels like just yesterday I was moving into Trees and getting ready to attend convocation under the Library tent on an absurdly hot August afternoon. Somehow, that wasn’t yesterday… it was four years ago and now I am preparing to attend another big Bentley event under a tent—but this time it will be signaling the end to my Bentley career, rather than the beginning.
During this bittersweet time, when I think back on the past four years I am amazed at how much I’ve learned, experienced and grown. As a senior majoring in Information Design and Corporate Communication (IDCC) and double minoring in Management and Politics, I have studied a mix of communication, public relations, marketing, digital design, leadership, project management, public policy, and political science—which are just a few of my favorite things! In addition to learning new things, I have also experienced a lot of new things—from surviving the GB courses, to travelling to Italy, to interning with the TJX Companies in their Merchandising Internship Program, to being inducted into Pi Sigma Alpha (the Political Science Honor Society), to befriending all of my favorite professors (to the point that one even lets me walk his dog sometimes). As such, it’s hard to pick one defining moment. But, I have to say that a huge catalyst for my personal, academic and professional growth has been my role in the Career Colleagues Program.
Over the past two years, I have spent a majority of my time in the Career Services Office as a Career Colleague and now Student Director, and it has really become my favorite place on campus. Last year, I used my creativity, writing abilities, design skills, and social media savvy to help make the CareerEdge website and social media accounts even more engaging and informative. This year, expanded on that experience by leading the CareerEdge and Event Planning team to new heights as Student Director. In both of my roles, I have had the unique opportunity to collaborate and build relationships with some very amazing people (both students and staff members) who have become not only my mentors but my friends. I have also been given the freedom to really explore my work and leadership style; all the while learning a lot about the nuances of career education. One thing I have come to marvel at is just how different everyone’s career paths are. In fact, I found it so fascinating that I turned it into a weekly blog series: Career Story Monday, which features a different student or alumni and their career path each week. When I first joined the CareerEdge team back in the fall of 2017, I was eager to make my mark on the Bentley Community with the work that I did for the office. As I got into the swing of things, I was mostly writing about new scholarship opportunities, event recaps and resource reviews. All of which were interesting and necessary topics, but when I began to think about what I, as a junior who had no idea what I wanted to do for a career, wanted to learn about a lot of different career paths in a more first-hand and candid manner. I took this idea to my boss, and the rest as they say, is history.
The starting point for every Career Story Monday post is an overview of that person’s career path, and what’s amazing is that no two are ever the same. Sure, we all went to high school, got accepted to Bentley, took GB classes, found a major, took CDI, had an internship (or two) and then bam! Career time! But, that’s not the entire picture; nor does it help us identify the true starting point of our career paths because everyone’s starting point is different. In fact, people cite a variety of things: from their first high school job, to a certain class that inspired them, to a conversation with a professor, to their first internship, to their first job post-grad—the list is endless. The lack of a consistent starting point is fascinating, as it sheds light on the greater idea that your career can start at really any point in your life. That means that even the smallest moment, one so small you probably don’t even realize what’s happening at the time, can shape the direction of your future. In fact, that’s what happened to me—and has happened to many other people I know, including the CEO of TJX, Ernie Herman who revealed during a presentation last summer that it was a single class period in the fall of his senior year that told him he should go into retail. For him, all it took was something in that sixty-minute lecture that set him on the path to become the leader of the world’s leading off-price retailer. How amazing is that?
So, how did it happen for me you ask? Well, I come from a pretty unique background as my parents own a 9,000 square foot toy store in Connecticut that my grandfather started in 1940 when he was just 14 years old. As a kid, the store was my second home and it still is—I work full time when I’m home on breaks, I often go home to work on the weekends, and I spend about 10 hours a week on our social media while here at school. While I have always loved the store, it wasn’t until last fall that I realized just how much it meant to me. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment it happened, but I know it was somewhere in the jolly chaos of the holiday season when I suddenly realized that I had found my calling. Although I was actively searching for roles in marketing and public relations, none of the job descriptions or opportunities really excited me as much as helping someone find the perfect Christmas gift did. The internal excitement I felt during the late-night mad dash of checking in and merchandising the products I had helped my mom choose (via text and phone while I was at school) wasn’t going to be matched by any other role. Nor would the feeling of accomplishment I get after a successful social media and email campaign promoting our favorite products. I could go on and on about my passion, but I won’t. Instead, I will end with that this realization is what led me to now be excitedly preparing to embark on my new chapter as Content Curator and Merchandising Manager of my family’s company—that I couldn’t have gotten to this realization without the help of everyone in the Career Services Office and my time as a Career Colleague.
So, thank you to everyone in the office for teaching me how to Dream Big, Love Monday’s, be Future Focused… and of course, become the CEO of my Life! I am so incredibly thankful to have been a part of this award-winning team, and looking back, my decision to apply to the Career Colleague program is part of how I came to my current career decision. So, I guess the biggest takeaway from my experience is to reflect on your past experiences and see if you can have your “ah-ha” moment of realizing where the beginning is. Also, never be afraid to try new things (like I did when I joined the Career Colleague Program)—because you never know where they may lead you!