During my most recent winter break as a Paul College student, I had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco as part of the Dean’s Ambassadors program. The purpose of our trip was to explore the business ecosystem in Silicon Valley and network with the Paul College alumni who have successfully transitioned to working on the west coast. While in the Bay Area, I learned a great deal about how the business culture in Silicon Valley differs from working in a city such as Boston or New York. Although my overall west coast experience was enlightening, I was ultimately left with a troubling thought; as a graduating senior, this trip was my first exposure to the vast opportunities that exist outside of the east coast.
Upon my return to UNH, I knew immediately that my goal for the semester would be to help educate freshman students on the job prospects that exist in regions outside of the northeast. In my capacity as a peer advisor in Paul College’s FIRE Program, I am responsible for working closely with students as they navigate through their first year in the business program. One of the core concepts that FIRE heavily emphasizes is taking an early initiative in the professional development of the freshmen students. Following my experience out west, there are several pieces of guidance that I plan on incorporating into how I approach engaging students in professional development.
A prominent piece of advice that was shared unanimously by all of the Paul College alumni that we spoke to on the west coast was about the importance of building a great network. Many of the alumni made the point of stressing that they ended up in their current roles by leveraging a network they had begun building since they themselves were students at UNH. It became clear to me rather quickly that it only takes one strong connection at the right time to attain that dream job we all strive for. Within the confines of the FIRE Program in Paul, I know that I will take special care to highlight the need for my students to take every opportunity that they can to begin building their own great networks. It has been demonstrated that the students in the FIRE Program have the ability to connect not only with just their peers, but with upperclassmen, faculty, and alumni mentors. My aim is to echo an observation that I made while on my trip; although having a strong resume is important, creating and maintaining key personal relationships with the people that you connect with can make all of the difference in career trajectory.
Along with building a great network, my experiences in San Francisco reinforced the importance for self-advocacy and experiential learning when it comes to professional development. A great deal of the young alumni that I spoke with stated that they were able to transition out west simply because they went out and made it happen for themselves. Whether it was through dozens of cold-calls or through prior connections with previously established alumni, the dominant theme was that each candidate had to be willing to campaign for themselves to get what they want. I believe this is an underrated yet crucially important soft-skill that I can engage my students on in the discussion of professional development. For as many different resources as I can provide to them, my goal is to have them walk away from the FIRE experience knowing that if they are willing to advocate for themselves, nothing is preventing them from landing jobs in the best organizations both domestically and internationally, whether it be out on the west coast or here in the northeast.
As a peer advisor, I believe that it is my mission to give my students every opportunity possible to succeed and attain the goals they set out to achieve. I am hopeful that through my experiences in Silicon Valley, I am able to become a better resource to my class and a better student leader within Paul College. It is my hope that through our work with the FIRE Program and the work that every other student leader is engaging in around campus, an experience like the one I was lucky enough to have out in San Francisco can become more of a normality and less of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
About Tim Closson ’18:
Tim Closson is from Nashua, New Hampshire and is a graduating senior in the Peter. T Paul College of Business and Economics. Tim is majoring in business administration with a concentration in accounting. Tim is also pursuing a minor in economics. Within Paul College, Tim is a second-year peer advisor with the Paul College FIRE Program and he also serves on the Dean’s student advisory board. Upon graduation, Tim has accepted a job within corporate accounting at Liberty Mutual Insurance in Boston, Massachusetts.