Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Career Services: March 2013 Newsletter

Included in this newsletter are alumni profiles, links of interest, and words of wisdom from the staff at Commerce Career Services. Please let us know if there is a topic you would like us to cover! If you know of an alum who would be a perfect fit for the alumni profiles, you can send me their information at gilley at

1. Alumni Profile

Eric Rothwell (MS in MIT ’12) Professional Services Process Manager, Professional Services Program Management Office (PMO), Meridium, Inc. (Roanoke, VA).

1)     What were your expectations of the MS in MIT degree as you were going into the program?

The program’s focus on enabling managers to maximize business value from IT investments and to position IT to support, influence, and drive business strategy was a perfect match for my long term professional interests as well as the immediate needs of my personal role and that of my team at the time.  Another important attribute of the program was that it offers the opportunity to leverage the significant knowledge and experience of the outstanding faculty as well as that of the other students.  No two cohorts are the same and since real-world job experience is a pre-requisite of the program, it offers the right mix of theory and practical application in real business situations.  The fact that the program is only a year in duration made it easier to fit into both my professional and personal life as well.

2)     Have you made a career change since you completed the degree? What elements of the program were helpful in making this change?

I actually transitioned to my current position at Meridium during Mod 2 of the program.  Meridium was aware of UVA’s, McIntire’s, and the MS MIT program’s strong reputations and was very interested in the attributes of the program that I mentioned above and how well it integrated with my 16 years of prior experience as a successful manager, PMO director, project manager, and business analyst.  The company offered a career opportunity that was a perfect fit for my background and interests and was willing to give me the flexibility and time I needed to complete the program and also even helped defray some of the costs.  These factors along with the chance to apply what I learned in the program in a new industry for a growing international company headquartered 8 miles from my house made the transition an easy one for me.

3)     What advice/words of wisdom do you have for current or future MS in MIT students who are considering either a job change or career change now that they are working towards the MS MIT degree?

While changing jobs when still completing the MS MIT program worked well in my situation, I think that the faculty would agree that my outcome is atypical.  I do not recommend changing jobs or careers during the program unless you know exactly what you are getting into.  The program is challenging enough as it is and making a major transition in the middle of it may prove too disruptive and stressful to you, your employer, and your family and it may negatively impact your ability to complete the program. 

Do not change jobs or careers without a plan.  You should really take the time to re-evaluate your current situation and determine where you want to be in your career within the next 1, 5, and 10 years.  If you are happy where you are and have plenty of opportunity for career growth, you should not feel obligated to change.  Alternatively, an immediate increase in salary and professional clout may be legitimate reasons to make a move and, often, changing roles and/or employers soon after earning a graduate degree or successfully completing a major project is the best way to leverage those successes to maximum benefit.  However, keep in mind that your ability to get personal fulfillment from your career and your quality of life including time for family, friends, and personal pursuits will likely be worth more to you in the long run.  So, remember to consider all the angles before making a change, not just the financial ones.

Take advantage of McIntire’s career services and invest in the effort to develop your own personal brand during or shortly after completing the program.  Treat the process as one of your required program deliverables and take it seriously.  Remember that while an MS MIT degree from McIntire may help open a lot of doors for you, it is how you apply what you learn in the program to the business environment in which you operate and the measurable value you bring to your clients and employers that will make the difference in your career.  Don’t simply “rest on your laurels.”  Always strive to add value quickly and often.  The MS MIT program equips you to do that but you will still need a strong commitment to continued learning for long term success.  

2. Articles of Note

3. Career Advice 2.0 – Words of Wisdom
From Kelly Eddins, Associate Director of Career Development, CCS

“Think about your brand. You’re in charge of making yourself a competitive candidate. Ask yourself these two questions: What makes you great? What does the job/employment/economic market determine to be great? The location where your answers meet is the place you should keep your focus. When you’re determining your brand, remember to focus on quality instead of quantity. Always think ahead for what your knowledge, skills, and ideas can do for you, not what they have done for you.”

4. We’re Here to Help
Commerce Career Services will be coming to both Charlottesville and NOVA sections to present on Rebranding this semester. We’ll be discussing the importance of integrating new skills, knowledge, and goals into your professional identity. Please be on the lookout for more details about this exciting program. Please don’t hesitate to contact Kelly Eddins ( or Aaron Gilley ( with any questions you might have. Have a great March!

Aaron Gilley
Assistant Director of Career Development
Commerce Career Services
University of Virginia
(434) 243-2144

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