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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Alumni Profile
Donny Wyatt (MS in MIT ’04) Owner and Founder, Co-construct (a software-as-a-service company for custom home builders and remodelers) (Crozet, VA).
1) What were your favorite parts of the program? What were the most important things you took from your time at McIntire?
I was fortunate to get a double-dose of McIntire, with both the undergrad in 1999 and then the MS MIT program in 2004. When I worked in the corporate world, at a small company, and then launching my own, I always saw the value in being able to both go broad and deep in the skills I needed to use. Both the undergrad and grad programs provided that. Whether you can pull IT into a finance job or pull marketing into an IT job, having a multi-disciplined approach prepares McIntire grads to bring more value right away by thinking a few rungs above their job level. That stands out in a company of any size.
2) Have you made a career change since you completed the degree? What elements of the program were helpful in making this change?
Yes. I was working in the typical, big corporate job at Verizon when I did the MS MIT program. I enjoyed my time at Verizon, but then I had a chance to go do something completely out of my comfort zone -- as a sales manager for a software as a service company selling to law firms and Wall Street analysts. Again, because of the well-rounded McIntire approach, I was able to make that move from an IT job to a sales and marketing job selling to finance people. After a few years there, through the experience of building our own home, I had the idea to start my current company, Co-construct. And when you start your own company, you need as broad of a skill set as you can get.
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 in MIT degree?
Why wait to finish the program to change? My career progression accelerated greatly, partially due to the MS MIT program, when I was only midway through. You're getting value at every step of the program, so it's not like there's "one big magic answer" at the end that then makes you more valuable in your job. In fact, one of the biggest benefits of being in an academic environment alongside your smart, employed peers, is retraining your brain on a new way of thinking. The content of the program is important, of course. But, changing the way you view and approach issues is the most valuable part. And that can kick in after just your first couple of sessions.
Too many people think that they need to finish the program to then make some shift up, over, or out of their current job. Why spend an extra 5-10% of your career waiting for that arbitrary graduation date when the program already has switched on your mental turbo boosters? Go for it now, and then milk the program for all it's worth in maximizing your first year in the new position!
2. Articles of Note
3. Career Advice 2.0 – Words of Wisdom
From Tom Fitch, Associate Dean for Career Services & Employer Relations
“As you get closer to completing the MS MIT program, remember that career development continues well beyond the point of graduation. Networking is one of the most important aspects of career growth. Creating strong professional relationships ensures personal as well as work-related enhancement. It can be quite easy to meet professionals who may share words of advice and suggestions for future jobs, skills, and an in depth outlook on the industry, but don’t miss out on having a way to follow up with these contacts. Do not wait until you’ve left the classroom to create or tweak your LinkedIn account. Update your profile, join appropriate groups, and connect with your classmates. It’s much easier to ask for their wisdom as you interact on a regular basis. Be sure to request connections to your peers and build upon a dynamic approach to a professional database.”
4. We’re Here to Help
Commerce Career Services had a great time presenting Rebranding to the Charlottesville section, and we look forward to presenting to the NOVA section in June. We’ll be discussing the importance of integrating new skills, knowledge, and goals into your professional identity. Please don’t hesitate to contact Kelly Eddins (email@example.com) or Aaron Gilley (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions you might have. Have a great week!
Assistant Director of Career Development
Commerce Career Services
University of Virginia