All posts by Ashley O'Keefe

Career Exploration Night Sheds Light on Criminal Justice and Business World


Nichols College held its second of three Career Exploration Nights on Sept. 30. Career Services was responsible for the three part event which took place from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 where a panel of professionals were present on each night. Approximately 100 students attended this event, which was designed to provide students with information and advice about potential career paths. The event featured a panel comprised of criminal justice and business industry experts. Sharing their knowledge were panelists: Tracie Carmel, correctional program officer with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; school psychologist Stephen Peters of Shepherd Hill Regional High School in Dudley; Carolyn Burke, AVP of talent acquisition at MAPFRE Insurance; Massachusetts State Police Trooper David Gould, and Samir Goncalves, Northeast program manager for Ernst and Young, and a 2011 graduate of Nichols College.

Carmel and Gould explained what life is like working in law enforcement, which was especially helpful to the criminal justice majors. They discussed how difficult the police academy can be and how extraordinary their daily tasks turn out. Carmel started her path toward law enforcement through volunteer work at a women’s prison. She enjoys talking to different types of people every day and making a difference in the inmates’ lives. She also got the Daniels Auditorium audience laughing when she admitted working in a prison is a bit different from what we see on the Netflix show “Orange is the New Black.”

Gould said he became interested in public safety and criminal justice when he saw how police officers are part of a brotherhood. He explained that he can depend on any of his fellow officers. Gould also discussed how his days could range from normal patrols, to missing persons cases, school lockdowns, and riot control. On 9/11 he was given the task of searching every plane at Boston’s Logan International Airport. In high stress situations such as this, Gould said it’s important to stay calm and focus on the task assigned. “At the time we weren’t given extensive details on the 9/11 situation, we just carried out our assignment of searching the planes.”

Students learned that there are no typical days in law enforcement and to always protect themselves if they should work in that field because anything can happen.

It was apparent from how he talked about his students that Peters loves his job as school psychologist at Shepherd Hill. He said he finds it rewarding when he is able to help youth with personal problems, by teaching them coping skills and providing the necessary counseling. Not only does he work with students, but also with teachers and parents to create positive environments.

Peters told students that it is important to specify which route of psychology they plan to study, because the job field is slim if they have only a bachelor’s degree. There are more career options with a graduate degree.

Burke works in the fields of insurance and human resource. She described her position as in-depth problem solving and interpreting policies, along with overseeing the recruitment of new candidates. Burke stressed how important it is to stay on top of one’s field by continuing education and attaining certificates. She also told the human resources majors in the audience that she started in an entry-level position, but with initiative, hard work, and determination, it is absolutely possible to advance to a higher position.

Goncalves, a 2011 Nichols graduate, shed light on the business world and steps that Nichols students can take to be successful and stand out from the crowd. He explained that it’s okay to make mistakes – but just don’t make the same mistake twice – and that it’s important to take initiative in the workplace, rather than wait for direction. As a project manager, Goncalves keeps tabs on multiple projects to make sure they’re timely and high quality. He also admitted that most of his days are spent on the phone talking with clients.

Overall, each panelist had interesting stories to share about their work lives and how they got to where they are today. There was an abundance of great advice given to not only the business majors, but to every student present, regardless of major. Our generation has the opportunity to job search and change jobs; we aren’t pinned down to just one career, and there are so many options for upcoming grads. All of the panelists agreed that good communication skills, teamwork, respect in the workplace, management skills, and technology skills are key for anyone looking to enter the business world.

Career Exploration Night gets Seniors Thinking


Nichols College Career Services held an event on Sept. 28, called “Career Exploration Night,” through which several panelists answered questions pertaining to common concerns seniors have upon graduation and starting the job interview process. This was the first in a series of three events dedicated to seniors. The second one was held on Sept. 29 and the third held on Sept. 30.

As a senior, I gained insight into not only the interview process but also little tips such as which job titles to look for, which websites post the most legit jobs, how to negotiate a salary, and other useful advice. Career services and the professors on campus have done an amazing job making the interview process for seniors as easy and as less stressful as possible, and I couldn’t be any luckier to have such a support system.

The panel consisted of five panelists representing different areas of the workforce: Jesse Plouffe `03, New Balance, senior product developer; Eric Gobiel, Nichols College, assistant director of athletics and head men’s lacrosse coach; Andrew Danna, Fastenal, district manager; Sean Vail `12, The Bozzuto Group, property manager; and Chantal Alfonso, manager of Corporate Traveler USA.

They were asked a series of questions such as:

  • What is your typical day at work?
  • What is a success story your most proud of?
  • What is one professional mistake you’ve made that you learned the most from?

What struck me the most was hearing the panelists talk about the on-the-job mistakes they’d made over the years. It felt comforting to hear that we’re all going to make mistakes- and that it’s OK to do so.

Andrew said: “Don’t try to do everything yourself, use the power of the people around you.”

This quote really made me realize that in any kind of job I end up in, I shouldn’t think I’m in it alone; there will always be someone to help guide me, which is not the perception I originally had on entering the work force.

The panelists also touched on social media, which was something I was happy they addressed. The consensus was to enjoy social media and use it to leverage yourself-but to be safe and smart, and to keep your profiles private. It was stressed to us how serious employers take inappropriate activity on social media; even if you’re the ideal candidate for a job, you could be eliminated from consideration because of your online activity.

After the speaking portion was over, I had an opportunity to network with the panelists. Each sat at a table and welcomed students who had questions about finding employment and related topics. I took full advantage of that opportunity and was able to get some business cards and was told to contact them if I had any questions, which I greatly appreciated. I sat down and spoke with Chantal, who explained to me her duties as a travel manager at Corporate Traveler and what her job entails. I’ve never heard of travel managers and was so interested in what the job had to offer. I’m strongly considering looking into her company and her position specifically.

Nichols College continues to amaze me with the opportunities they present to the student community; I’m excited to see what the next Career Services event has to offer!

Spectacular Staff and Faculty Make Financial Literacy Fun


The “Making It Work” Financial Literary Workshop is a quick and valuable cultural credit that teaches students the realities of credit and debit cards. (Nichols students are required to complete 16 cultural credits, which enhance learning through culturally and societally relevant topics.) At first glance, financial literacy does not seem like the most stimulating topic, but the faculty members responsible for the workshop kept everyone’s attention by involving students in the discussion. The designers and leaders of the workshop include Jennifer Bianco, director of financial assistance; Rachel Ferreira, assistant director of enrollment for peer engagement; Lisa Liese, director of student accounts; and Katie Moulton, associate director of enrollment for student success and retention.

The first segment of “Making It Work” took place Sept. 23. Most of the session was spent learning the gritty details about credit cards, how to use them, and the importance of one’s credit score. The animated speakers kept students involved with “True or False” games and other trivia.

The second part of the workshop, which was held Sept. 30, compared credit and debit cards. The speakers immediately started with a Jeopardy game to test our general knowledge about the differences in cards. Some of the financial literacy jargon—such as the term “churning”—caught students off guard. Even the most financially savvy student had something new to learn. Afterward, Jen, Rachel, Lisa, and Katie kept the conversation lively by providing real life stories about financial mishaps. All of the presenting women had valuable advice to offer about finances.

Usually, I’m one to cringe when pondering money-related situations, but I learned a lot during both “Making It Work” sessions. The presenters did a great job turning a dull topic into stimulating and informative knowledge. I’ve always been scared of credit cards, but I have far more confidence in my judgment now. I’ve learned it’s impossible to rely on a debit card forever, and I shouldn’t be using it in certain situations.

These financial literacy segments began last spring and will continue to be held once in the spring and once in the fall for a cultural credit. The presenters wrapped up this fall’s session by asking students what else they would like to learn about financial matters.