Category Archives: success

PDS on Alumni Relations Panel

On Thursday September 26th at 1:30 pm, four Nichols College Alumni gathered in Davis Hall to share their life-after-Nichols experiences with current Nichols students. Students poured into rooms 205 and 207 once the doors opened. A quick scan of the crowd showed very few open seats and eager students with notebooks and pens poised to learn. A required event for seniors taking their PDS classes this fall, the alumni panel proved very beneficial to those in attendance.

Ryan Gervais is a Nichols grad from 2008 and 2010 with an MBA. Megan Sherman graduated in 2010, as did Danielle Flavin. Kevin Richardson is the most recent graduate of Nichols College, from 2012. All four students have found success in the business world and attribute that success to Nichols College. Kevin Richardson was quick to point out that the teamwork skills learned while in school helped him immensely in his field.  The other three panelists agreed, adding that Nichols prepares you for the real world.

Danielle Flavin brought laughter and successfully formed a connection to the crowd when mentioning how much she hated the PDS (Professional Development Seminar) classes while at Nichols but pointed out that the portfolio she produces at interviews is incomparable against other candidates. Ryan Gervais mentioned the importance of learning the interview skills created in PDS – skills certain to come in handy upon graduation – Danielle does approximately 25 interviews each week and regaled the crowd with the do’s and don’ts of interviewing.

With a team of twenty working underneath her, Megan Sherman gave key advice on having a positive attitude in the workplace and owning up to it when you falter. Also touting the merits of PDS classes and the resume building learned at Nichols, Megan gave the audience horror stories of resumes she sees that brought plenty of laughs among students.

Kevin Richardson was also quick to jump on the PDS-praise train, adding in that Nichols preps students realistically for the job market, and gives them the skills they need to succeed beyond the interview. Kevin stressed the need for those just starting in their careers to broaden their horizons, be flexible, and stay professional. Above all, Richardson notes – market yourself.

As the program came to a close, director of Alumni Relations Bri Callahan asked each of the alumni, “Why do you stay in touch with Nichols?” The responses were typical. To come back and see all the changes, to continue to network, to stay in touch with old friends, and to stay involved. Perhaps the most interesting of answers came from Megan, who complimented Nichols on the resources used to set the path for student success, and then stated, “I owe so much success to Nichols, which is the main reason I give back [sic] to the college.” That answer rang true. An understanding settled over most of the students in the audience at that moment, and that one answer is sure to have convinced at least one student that it’s no small bones to be a Nichols Alumni.

Perhaps the true mark of a Nichols student is the politeness in which the alumni were received. Students sat with rapt attention, taking notes and genuinely listening to the advice of their peers. One can only wish the man constantly rustling around, digging in his bag, and shuffling papers took note. As this reporter remained impressed with the attentiveness of the crowd, that one distraction stood out like a sore thumb.

Fae Risio’s Career Fair Experience

“So many people don’t even have a career goal that they went to school for.” The amount of times I’ve heard this phrase is endless, but I never thought I would be one to fall under that category.
I declared my major as English my sophomore year and right out of the gate I was confident that I wanted to be a journalist. I couldn’t take enough English classes, writing papers and reading books was just my thing.

As this last semester of my senior year rolled around, I began to second guess my goal of being a journalist. It just didn’t seem to fit me anymore. For now, it is still an option, but I would like to explore other options that interest me. Then, while visiting a family member in the hospital for depression, something clicked in my mind that I wanted to help people in these situations.

When the career fair rolled around I decided to take a chance and see what kind of opportunities I could find that related to social work. Following the advice of Professor Halprin and Professor Pelto, I went and talked to Caine Dutton, the staffing manager from The Bridge of Central Massachusetts, a former Bison.

Caine was approachable and very welcoming. After talking to him about how I became interested in social work and how I had minimal experience, he encouraged me to apply anyway. Before I left his table, Caine asked for my resume and I happily gave him one. Five days later, I had applied for a relief position at The Bridge and got a call from Caine the next day. We set up an interview and I filled out a separate, more detailed application online.

When I arrived at the home office in Worcester I sat down and waited nervously. Another girl came in shortly after me who was also there for an interview. We talked a little and she informed me that she had done this kind of work before, which made me more nervous considering I had no experience.

Soon Caine came to take us into a separate room where we had to take a preliminary test on the computer that involved a number of tasks including a written section, math, and watching a video.
After the test, instead of asking us questions, Caine asked us if we had any. I was kind of surprised by this because it wasn’t a typical interview. After both of us asked several questions, Caine told us we would have a second interview at a different office and they would be contacting us. I had a very good feeling as I left Worcester that day.

Exactly a week later I got a call from a woman named Erica who worked for The Bridge in Southbridge. She was also very nice and inviting and we had a interview set up for three days later.
When I arrived at the office in Southbridge I wasn’t sure I was in the right spot, because it looked just like a house. I was greeted by Erica and was joined by the Division Director, Jennifer Megas.
At first both of them looked over my resume, and it is true what they tell you in PDS, that an employer will only look at your resume for 7 seconds. I was very nervous because I saw they both had two pages of questions but they were extremely nice and not intimidating.

Some of the things they asked were the typical interview questions Nichols prepare you for, like what are your strengths and weaknesses? Why is teamwork so important? What conflicts, if any, have you had at previous jobs? Other questions were more difficult pertaining to job, like what is your definition of mental illness and recovery? How would you deal with a patient who doesn’t want to finish their treatment? What do you consider boundaries and how would you make them with patients?

Some of the questions caught me off guard and it was nerve wracking that they wrote down everything I said. Over all though, the interview went great and I was told that I would be contacted.

On Wednesday April 3rd, I received a call from the Bridge informing me they were offering me a job. I accepted and will be heading to main office next week to get everything set up. I am very thankful for the career fair in helping me find a job for after graduation.

Interview: Recruiters Jason Dekow ’06 & Kevin King ’07 on What Makes Nichols Students Terrific

There are a variety of traits that can help a student stand out in a crowd. But what is it that makes Nichols students terrific? Two recruiters who attended the recent career fair shared some of their thoughts on this question. Jason Dekow, a Nichols graduate from the class of 2006, who represented Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, stated that “Nichols students are terrific in a number of ways”. Students impressed possible employers by being well dressed, professional and engaging. Those who really stood out to recruiters had done prior research on the companies they were interested in. Kevin King, Nichols graduate from the class of 2007, who represented WB Mason at the career fair, believes that “the small class sizes at Nichols allow students the opportunity to learn values that they would not learn in other larger colleges”. Nichols focuses not only on teaching students to succeed in the classroom, but also in a professional setting. Students learn how to market themselves through the way they dress, act and prepare for any given situation. This is what makes Nichols students so terrific.

Both recruiters mentioned that Nichols students have drive that is not often seen in most college populations. Nichols students are working toward their future career, and they are driven to find the one best suited to them. Kevin offers a word of advice, “Know where you want to be at the next stage in your life.” Recruiters are looking for individuals who are passionate about what they do and who have the drive to continue improving and advancing in their careers. Having this drive can set you apart from a sea of others looking for the same opportunities. It is this drive that sets Nichols students apart from other college students.
Jillian Stadig Class of 2014