It’s All About Who You Know

Written by Jesse Sannicandro

Networking is indisputably one of the most important skills to have when looking for a job.  I secured two jobs and an internship because of people I know. Your personal contacts can tell you about an available position, including jobs that may not be publicly advertised.  Not only that, but they can put in a good word so you can get your foot in the door.  Networking makes the job search that much easier.


I worked at JCPenney at the Natick Mall for about a year.  When that particular branch of the company closed, I was out of a job and had a moment of panic as to what to do next.  Luckily for me, a coworker of mine also happened to work at The North Face.  She mentioned in passing that they were hiring at her job, so I jumped at the opportunity and applied.  I was hired at The North Face because of who I knew at my work.


My dad met the director of Framingham State University’s English Language Programs, Rebecca Hawk, while they were both getting a Master’s Degree in Public Administration at Harvard University.  He later performed the ceremony at Rebecca’s wedding.  My parents have been in contact with her since then.  My mom told about an opening for student workers in the English Language Programs office that I wouldn’t have otherwise known about.  I found this job, and was hired, because of who I knew in my family.


I was looking for an internship to get under my belt before my graduation.  Initially, I had been looking at a grant writing internship, but it had been filled very quickly. I decided that it might not even be the best fit for me; I didn’t really know if I wanted to pursue grant writing as a career.  I just knew that it was related to my English major and I would be able to use my writing skills. Desmond McCarthy, an English professor of mine, suggested that since I don’t entirely know what career path I want to take, I could intern at Career Services and Employer Relations.  He had sent over several students in the past to work as professional writing interns.  I secured this internship because of who I knew at school.

Your Network

Your network can span several different spheres.  There are professional relationships, like your professors and coworkers, that make up a more traditional network.  There are other relationships that you may not think of as resources when looking for a job, like friends and family.  When you imagine networking, you may think of job fairs and professional events, but it’s not always a deliberate activity.  Quite often, you’re networking without realizing it.  You never really know who can find you a job, or when an opportunity will rear is lovely head.


Playing the Field

Written by Jesse Sannicandro

“Great moments are born from great opportunity, and that’s what you have here tonight, boys.”

-Herb Brooks, US Men’s Hockey Coach

Playing sports in your youth may have been inspired by dreams of grandeur. You probably had sports heroes that you looked up to and aspired to be. You may not have become the next Tom Brady, but being an athlete is a great opportunity to learn life skills and develop relationships that can last a lifetime.

Tom Brady

The National Association of Colleges and Employers did a survey to find the top 20 desired soft skills that employers seek in an applicant’s resume. More than half of these attributes can be learned by being part of an athletic team.

Attributes employers seek in a candidate’s resume

I recently spoke with Mark Flynn, co-creator and Chief Operating Officer of The Process, a company that was featured at CSER’s weekly Employer Showcase. The Framingham-based company helps high school athletes pursue higher education by placing them in college. Mark played football at Springfield College and works with, and employs student-athletes. This position gives him an excellent perspective on the positive qualities that student-athletes embody. I asked him what qualities make student-athletes good workers, and what advice he would give to those who are still in school.

Mark Flynn

He explained that the qualities that make student-athletes good workers are their “competitive nature, work ethic, drive, and self-motivation.” To sum it up he said, “they understand what it takes to get it done.” As advice to athletes still completing their undergraduate studies, Mark said, “Keep your grades up, that’s number one” and “make sure you maintain relationships with alumni.”
For further reading material, you can look at the NCAA’s website. They have a page called After The Game that is dedicated to “helping [student-athletes] gain employment in their chosen profession at all stages of their professional career.” This is a great resource where you can post your resume and find employers who are specifically looking for student-athletes.


Think of life as a student-athlete as the beginning of your professional life. You can parlay the skills and relationships that you build by playing sports into a fulfilling career.

“Don’t give up.  Don’t ever give up.”

-Jim Valvano, North Carolina State University Men’s Basketball Head Coach

Going Clubbing

Written by Jesse Sannicandro

College is a big change for everybody.

High School is over, and you now have to make your own schedule. You have to wake up early for classes, motivate yourself to do homework, and get involved on campus—you need to join a club.

It can be hard to meet people in college.

While waiting for classes to start, people are sometimes more interested in looking at their phones than talking to each other. It can be difficult and awkward to make a connection when everybody is in their own social media bubble. By joining a club, the anxiety of breaching personal space is lessened. You can develop friendships based on shared interests. In addition to being a fun, social activity, clubs can help you develop professional skills.

Club involvement can add to your resume.

Your work in clubs demonstrates soft skills such as teamwork and responsibility. Additionally there are opportunities for leadership roles by becoming a club officer. Specific leadership positions can show hard skills, for example: being a treasurer shows that you are good with money; acting as a secretary shows you have writing skills. This type of experience can help put your resume at the top of the pile.

Practice networking in a club.

Networking is one of the most valuable skills to have to help you find a job. In a club, you can practice networking while you make friends. Club members and advisors can be part of your network on LinkedIn, and can also give you endorsements for skills on your profile.

You are who you are.

A bachelor’s degree and a solid GPA are important, but in a competitive job market, they aren’t game changers. You need something to make yourself stand out to employers, and clubs let them know who are are. A club like The Onyx can be good to be a part of if you want to apply at a publishing house. One like Alternative Spring Break can be relevant if you want to join a non-profit organization. You never know who’s reading your resume. If they have something in common with you, you stand out more. For the most part, the skills you gain from a club are more important than its subject matter.

Suitable Solutions

Written by Jesse Sannicandro

The Kickoff Event for the Career Professionalism Program, Suitable Solutions, was held Monday, September 6. This Career Services and Employer Relations program is sponsored by the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce and a national retail company with financial support from Enterprise Holdings. The program, which consists of five distinct events, helps students develop skills in presenting oneself, conducting interviews, and networking. Thirty individuals participated in Suitable Solutions last year and CSER hopes to get even more this year.

Dawn Ross, Director of CSER, gave an overview of the program and introduced five guest speakers: campus recruiters Alfredo Garcia and Kara Bemis; Framingham State University alumni and employees of MWCC, Liane Kush and Michael Miller; and Caleb Mason, a current junior at FSU. The guests explained how the program teaches skills to actually secure a job.

“The first impression when you first come into an office is going to say a lot without you saying a word,” Alfredo said.

“When you get to the last round of interviews you’ve got to really be able to sell yourself,” Michael said.

A major aspect of projecting professionalism is how you look. You need to be able to look and act the part. Being well-groomed, poised, and confident are skills that the Suitable Solutions Program helps polish. Being able to communicate well is one of the most important soft skills to have in a career. Speaking, listening, and knowing the right questions to ask can always be improved with practice. Mock interviews will help perfect the strategy.

All of the panelists had nothing but good things to say about the program.

“The work that goes into this program is astronomical,” Kara said.

“I was one of those people that thought I had all my eggs in a basket, but my eggs were all broken on the ground,” Caleb said.

Student participants in the program will have individual career counseling, networking opportunities, mock interview experience, a corporate site visit, a professional business attire fitting, and a business etiquette dinner. At the end of the program, students receive professional attire to wear at interviews to show off their best professional self.

Although some students may think that this program is only for Fashion Design and Retailing Majors, this is simply not true. CSER events intern Kenetra Hinkins stressed, “No matter what major you are, you can definitely benefit from this program.”