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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Recent Grad Discusses Transition from Student to Professional

Rob Canfield 

Graduated: 2014
Major: Computer Information Science (CIS)
Employed: Services Request Coordinator at eBay

Start networking now. Stay up to date on everything that is happening in the industry and be persistent. There is usually no straight path to your destination.”

Why did you decide to work in your field?

I have always been passionate about technology and the Internet, but because of other interests I went into the Nursing field. Nursing is a great profession, but I lost interest after a year or so. It just wasn’t for me. Not knowing what to do, I decided to enter the CIS program because of my huge interest in all things computer related. I always had this notion that the computer field was a low-end career with few high paying jobs. I was very wrong. Actually it is one of the fastest growing fields and has a lot of jobs available.

Describe your role and responsibilities at your job?

Currently my job title is Services Request Coordinator. In this role I perform many different duties and tasks. Up until this month I mainly worked with the estimation team. The team and I would determine how many hours a certain project would take. This included the amount of hours per week each developer or resource would work on a project. This estimation process is extremely detailed; naming out each person working on the project.

My job role has recently changed. I still have the same title, but my responsibilities have changed. I now take on the role of a Project Manager. Basically I manage and track projects throughout their lifecycle before we send it to the client. The project is my responsibility, and I need to ensure that it gets completed on time. Hitting deadlines is very important to this position.

What were the main steps you took to get your job?

I did a lot of networking and attended job fairs. I also went to tech conventions throughout the Philadelphia area. I spoke to almost every working person I know, asking about possible jobs or just advice. I also networked on LinkedIn as well.
What do you like most about your job?

The thing I enjoy most about my job is the possibility of advancement. There are so many different directions I can take within the company. I like that in my role I talk to a lot of people within the company. This is a great networking opportunity. The company really wants you to succeed, and it’s nice to know that I have them on my side.

What kind of individual would be best suited for your job, and why?

For my job you have to be very organized. I manage up to 20 projects at a single time and everyone is different from the rest. A great and open personality is always a plus. Having a positive attitude helps. This is a high stress role, so stress coping techniques are beneficial for staying on track.

What are some suggestions you could give to a student to give him/her an edge on the competition?

Start networking now. Take your studies seriously and really try your hardest. Take time to update your resume and create a LinkedIn account. Preferably start looking for internships before senior year. I wish I had working experience before starting this job; it would’ve really helped me out a lot.

For LinkedIn tips visit: 

For Networking information go to: 

What was your interview process like?

I have been through many interviews for different companies. I’m guessing around 10. I applied to around 50 places. This was the only interview that was solely over the phone. Not once did I have a sit-down interview or even Skype. Most interviews won’t be like this. Be ready for anything. I will always remember my interview for an IT position at a local school. It was supposed to be one interviewer, but the President and VP walked in to do the interview. I was extremely nervous and wasn’t ready for that at all. Some questions to practice include: Why do you want this job? Tell me about yourself. What is your major weakness? Why did you major in your field? What is your greatest accomplishment? Give an example of how you solved a problem in the past. There are so many on the Internet. Remember to have questions ready to ask them!

What advice would you give a student wanting to pursue a career in your field?

Stay up to date on everything that is happening in the industry and be persistent. There is usually no straight path to your destination.

Did you use Career Development?

Yes I did use Career Development. I thought going to Career Development would put me ahead of the competition. I also needed help perfecting my resume and LinkedIn account. I would recommend Career Development because I truly think that without them I would’ve been lost. Going to them definitely made me a more professionally mature individual and gave me that push to start the job hunt.

Read how Career Development can help you at 

Please add anything else you feel is important for readers to know.

Something I did not touch on would be my Senior Project. Working with others in a group prepared me for this job and in life. I gained most of my organizational skills and communication skills while in that class. Putting a lot of time and effort into the project boosted my attitude about my skills and helped me get on the right path. I would not take your Senior Project for granted. 

Read other student and alumni profiles at 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

GMercyU Alum Shares Career and Interviewing Tips

Nicole Dobbs

 Graduated: 2002
Major: Accounting
Employed: Senior Financial Analyst at NHS Human Services

Don’t be afraid of asking for help and don’t be afraid of changing your mind. 
The world is full of possibilities and choices.”

Why did you decide to work in your field?

The story of how I ended up in accounting/finance is an interesting one. My original major at Gwynedd Mercy University was Cardiovascular Technology (CVT). As a young student, I did not know exactly what career path I wanted to be on. I wasn’t doing well in the program and after observing an invasive cardiac test and nearly passing out; I knew that this wasn’t the job for me. Later that day in tears, I walked to the career counselor’s office.

I explained my dilemma while sniveling and the counselor smiled at me. “Nicole, did you know that the average student changes their major?” I had no idea and hadn’t even considered the option. What would my parents say? Would everyone think that I was a quitter? But I realized that I wasn’t going to be happy with my current choice.

She then asked me something that I will never forget: “When you were in high school and went home to do your homework, what was the first book that you opened?”

My reply was “Accounting.” I had had a few courses and really enjoyed the subject. (Not to mention that I did really well in them!) I left the office feeling elated. Two weeks later, I was an Accounting major and never looked back.

Describe your role and responsibilities at your job?

I am a Senior Financial Analyst for NHS. We are one of the nation’s largest nonprofit providers of human services. We offer care to both adults and children and specialize in inpatient and outpatient therapy, autism, drug and alcohol addiction, foster care, mental health counseling and provide a wide variety of additional focused services.

My basic responsibilities are: preparing annual budgets, forecasting analysis, contract review, process monthly financial statements, generate quarterly reports, monthly and year-end financial close, evaluate new program development including developing start up budgets and program restructuring, assist in submission of RFP’s, approve purchases, travel, credit card reconciliation, check disbursements, and employee allocations, and special financial requests as needed.

What were the main steps you took to get your job?

As I was finishing up my senior year at Gwynedd, I was waiting on tables at a local diner. I wasn’t having much luck getting a response to my resume (which I was just faxing out with a cover pager or letter). Once again, I contacted the career center to see if there were any job postings. A career counselor went over my resume. Apparently, I had not done such a good job of putting it together! She was horrified to hear that I was sending it out without a cover letter.

I’ll never forget the help that was given to me that day. We reviewed my work afterwards, she offered some additional tips, and I started sending it out. This time, I received a much better response and found a job within a month. I called the career counselor to let her know and she was happy for me, but not surprised.

I started off in a general accounting role to get my feet wet. From there, I progressed into more senior roles with different organizations and industries with increased responsibility.

What do you like most about your job?

For more than 10 years I have enjoyed working in accounting and finance. Numbers make sense to me and I have no shame in admitting that I geek out when everything falls into place. I’m a calculating and analytical person by nature so this was the right fit for me.

Even though I have worked in different industries, I have immensely enjoyed working for my current organization. We are in the business of helping people and at the end of the day it makes me feel good to know that I had a hand in that.

What kind of individual would be best suited for your job, and why?

Unfortunately, number crunchers have the reputation of being rigid and antisocial. A lack of people skills won’t get someone very far in this field. Accounting is the heartbeat of the company and you have to be able to interact with non-numbers folks in different departments.

Communication is the key and a lot of the time you have to be good at relaying the language of numbers without making people feel inadequate. Many people find anything related to finance to be intimidating. (My own sister hands her unopened yearly W-2 to me at tax time and says “help”).

It is also important that you are able to work as part of a team. Rarely have I seen a one-person shop. Being part of a finance team is extremely beneficial as there are other people to bounce ideas and questions off of.

What are some suggestions you could give to a student to give him/her an edge on the competition?

Be confident and friendly! In my experience, employers hire people that they like. Of course you need to be qualified but that whole “rigid accountant” term goes a long way. If you don’t have a lot of experience yet, then play up your charming personality and make it clear that you work well with others, are willing to learn, and would fit into the team environment. I would hire a less-experienced person with a great personality over someone who was cocky and impolite with a few years under their belt. Getting along with others is imperative and I have seen people let go from a job over personality conflicts that have nothing to do with their skill set.

What was your interview process like?

The interview for my current job consisted of a one-to-one for about an hour. After that, I was called back to meet with his boss and an additional director. I was asked the typical questions: Why did you leave your last job? Explain a challenge you once faced and how you dealt with it. What is important to you in an organization? How do you get along with others? Are you looking to move up into a managerial role after a few years?

The process was laid back and casual. I’ve been on panel interviews before and they can feel like a firing squad. I advise anyone to just keep smiling, and take your time answering questions. Don’t be afraid to have someone repeat a question; ask for more clarification, or to take your time in responding. It is more important to consider an answer first than to reply incorrectly.

What advice would you give a student wanting to pursue a career in your field?

Accounting is a field that will allow you to branch out in many different directions. This is one of the things I love most about it. You don’t have to stick to the basic soup-to-nuts debits/credits if you don’t want to. There is forecasting, analysis, statistics, auditing, forensics, taxes, and many more. A career in this field will allow someone to move onto a different aspect if they choose to. I worked as a senior accountant for many years before I moved into a more financial role. What I do now is very different than my past responsibilities and it has given me the chance to expand my experience as well as my resume.

Please add anything else you feel is important for readers to know. 

Don’t be afraid of asking for help and don’t be afraid of changing your mind! The world is full of possibilities and choices. It is ok to decide if something isn’t just right for you. If I would have stuck with CVT, I would have been extremely unhappy and unsuccessful. Instead, I made a career and life-changing choice that worked out best for me. Use the resources that Gwynedd Mercy offers because there are many people available to offer guidance and assistance.