Business grad turns internship into career in yacht upholstery

Thursday, December 3, 2020
Abigail Chamberlain '20 takes photos of a yacht for her job as operations coordinator for Alfred's Upholstery

Abigail Chamberlain ‘20 works as the operations coordinator at Alfred’s Upholstery in Alfred, Maine, a job she got after interning there while attending UNH Manchester as a business management major. The company specializes in yacht interiors, but now also produces face shields in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Chamberlain loves her job and is thankful to UNH Manchester for the preparation she received, she says.

“Hearing Kelly Kilcrease speak on UNH Manchester's business program and the success of the students who graduated from it led me to pursue a degree in business with a focus on management,” Chamberlain said of Kilcrease, associate professor and chair of the Department of Business and Public Affairs, after attending a UNH Manchester open house.

Chamberlain initially didn’t know what she wanted to study but knew she wanted to graduate with as little debt as possible. UNH Manchester offered the opportunity to graduate nearly debt free, based on scholarships and aid. The little debt she has will be paid off within a year, she says.

When Chamberlain was a student, she worked full time at Alfred’s while taking 16 to 20 credits. During her internship, she researched and applied for grants to help the business obtain a CNC machine to digitize and cut out patterns. By interning at her workplace, she says she was able to develop and demonstrate new skills while maintaining her financial security.

“I was taking 20 credits both semesters my senior year and also working full time and commuting 4 hours," Chamberlain says. "Doing my internship at my job was not only the most feasible option, but also the most educational option as I was planning to stay there after I graduated.”

Chamberlain is one of many successful UNH Manchester business alumni, with 100% of class of 2019 business grads reporting that they were employed in the field within six months of graduation and earning an average starting salary of $55,962. Real-world experience is at the heart of the program, which is why 90% of business students complete at least one.

For Chamberlain, the most rewarding part of the UNH Manchester experience was connecting with business professionals and learning from knowledgeable professors.

“Adjunct professor Barry Garside is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met and is the only person I’ve ever known who could actually get a mathematical concept through to my brain," Chamberlain says. “[Kilcrease] was very wise and only came to class to share facts. He never wasted time on personal stories and simply taught during the entire class period.”

Chamberlain says she learned a lot from adjunct faculty member Marisa Forti, whom she still actively keeps in touch with.

"Marisa was engaging and informed, and she never failed to teach me something new in each of her classes," Chamberlain says. "Out of all my classes, hers were the ones I did not want to miss because I knew I would be missing out on learning something valuable."

Chamberlain says she learned a lot about herself and working with people at UNH Manchester. From time management to balance, she says she developed many skills during her time as a student that she will use throughout her career.

UNH Manchester offers career-driven programs in business and accounting, right in the heart of the state's business hub. Learn more