Alumni Affairs

Alumni Advice

We invited Mount alumni to share their advice for current students and recent graduates. Here's what they had to say.

Q: What advice do you have for first-time job seekers?
Q: What resources or websites did you find helpful when you were looking for jobs?
Q: What are some of the best ways you've found to network?
Q: Do you have any tips for acing a job interview?
Q: What was the best advice you got on how to budget and save?

 

Question: What was the best advice you got on how to budget and save?

June 2018

"Pay yourself first. Whether it’s 2%, 1%, or just $5 or $10 off the top of your paycheck, do it. You won’t miss it but you’ll be amazed at how it adds up."

- Ginny T. '79

"Contribute as much as you can to a 401k and do not borrow from it unless you have an emergency."

- Mark Nowak '95, Controller, Viking Industries

"Always pay yourself first."

- Kelly DeQuatro '04, Health Quest

"Max out your 401k or related plans right away so you do not get used to the larger paycheck. Keep credit in good standing by enrolling all credit cards in autopay for the minimum amount, yet still make normal payments. This way you are never late on a payment. Bad credit can drag down any gains made in saving money. Also the App "Acorns" is a great way to save without noticing. It rounds up credit card purchases and saves that money for you automatically and invests it."

- Rob Meagher '95, Owner, LMB Professional Services

"If you are in education, check into savings plans available from the school district in which you can make as much or as little as you want. Districts usually have pension plans. In two years I had more in my annuity than 20 years of pension. Don’t over spend once you have your full time position. Put a little into savings each month in case some unexpected bills come in over the summer. If your district offers a 12 month salary, go for it! No looking for summer jobs every year!"

- Nancy Sutherland '75, retired teacher

"Start with joining your companies 401k plan. Contribute 10% and while you're young have an aggressive stock to bond allocation like 80% stocks 20% bonds. Also think about a Roth IRA, you can contribute up to $5,500 per year after taxes. This money will grow tax free. Every time you get a raise, up the contribution to the 401k by 1%. Retirement sounds like a long time away, but the time goes by fast and the sooner you save the more time you have for compounding."

- Ron Shipley '94, Senior Engineer, IBM Corporation

"Take advantage of your bank's bill pay features! Calculate what your bills cost you on a weekly basis so you know the amount of money you need to set aside from every paycheck (include annual or bi-annual bills!). Have that amount transferred automatically to an account you've set up just for paying bills. Set up automatic bill pay from that account. For loans, don't send monthly payments -- send 1/4 of that amount every week. This makes for 1 extra payment per year, and earlier payoff of your loan."

- Julann Schwarz '15 '18, Mount Saint Mary College

"Spend less than you earn - sounds simple, but sometimes it isn't. Keep a running tally of expenses in your head. If you put a large something on your credit card, send them money in right away - dont wait until the bill comes in. Pay off your credit card at the end of the month. Start a retirement account as soon as possible. Any bonus or pay raises should go straight to that retirement; you lived on the smaller amount just fine, continue to live on that same amount and bank the rest."

- Rebecca Foster-Faith '06, Science Teacher, Minisink

"My best advice is to stay home and live with your parents as long as you can. Don’t be in a big rush to be a grown-up. As soon as you get a job start investing a little bit of your weekly earned money in a tax shelter annuity and definitely start a 401(k). Good luck to all the graduates because before you know it you’ll be 54 like me and say 'Wow! Where did the time go?' Welcome to the real world 🤗"

- Lucinda Porter '87, RN Invasive Cardiology

"Do your monthly budget and figure out what you can afford to give to a savings account or more important a 401k every month. If you are lucky to have a pension, do it! Even if it’s only 2%, it will add up. Don’t be short sighted. When you are 21 years old you can’t imagine being 60+. When you are financially secure, there is piece of mind and you can do and give more. Glad I did it. Oh and keep those credit cards at a minimum. Good luck."

- Donna Distefano '78, just retired, RN BSN CCRN

"I have owned Remedy Staffing for 26 years and we deal with college grads who are new to Tucson. The best advice they can be given is to sub as a temporary employee in different companies to see what environment they fit in. The temp will soon realize what type of setting they are comfortable in--professional or casual.  They also get to know what part of town is best for them. They will also learn from other employees what the best companies are for advancement, salaries, etc."

- M. Jayne Henninger '66, Co-Owner/President, Remedy Staffing

 


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Question: Do you have any tips for acing a job interview?

May 2018

"Be honest, dress to impress, be prepared, practice beforehand, try not to stress about it, stay positive!"

- Joe Candela II '11, Quality Assurance Associate, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals

"ALWAYS send a thank you note. It doesn't take long to do and can set you apart from other candidates."

- Jillian Torre '14, Financial Times

"Remember to send a thank you note to the interview committee."

- Theodora Bosch '75, Retired Teacher

"Greet the interviewer by name, extend your hand, make frequent eye contact, speak clearly, know all about the company, ask questions, and send a thank you note."

- Catherine Kennedy '70, Special Education Teacher, College Counselor

"Yes. 1) Make eye contact. 2) Smile, and lean forward a bit. 3) If this is the job you really want, say so. I was told by the guy who hired me that when I said, "I really want to work here!" he knew I was the right candidate. 4) Ask a few questions; show your interest. 5) Shut off your phone and put it away. 6) Most of all, be yourself!!"

- Karen Shea '78, Math Dept. Chair, Longmeadow (MA) HS, Retired

"STAR technique: Situation - when did the example occur? Task - what did you have to do? Action - how did you approach the task? Result - how did you approach the result / what happened as a result? For each question they will ask for real-life evidence where you have demonstrated the behaviour or skills. They will know what the desired behaviours are and will look for positive and negative indicators."

- Joseph Pozza '01, Global Trial Manager, Novartis

"I would say to do what they call “power poses.” It helps you to be open during an interview. I would ask this question: “What are the expectations for this position.” It will help you to have the upper hand on the interview and clarify their expectations from you. Good Luck!"

- Justin Perez '16, Assistant Director of Mission Advancement

"Give eye contact and stay positive. Many jobs can teach you the skills needed to do the job successfully, but most jobs do not have the time, resources, or desire to teach people skills."

- Anthony Grice '06, Educator, Newburgh Enlarged City School District

"1. Be yourself, let it shine through. 2. Study the company you are job seeking to enable you to also interview with intelligent questions. 3. Remember that a job interview is a two way street. An interviewer is pleased to know that you understand the position and are willing to place your trust in the company."

- Alvin Mann '16, Retired

"Show up on time. Turn your phone off. Dress appropriately. Know how to shake hands. Show that you're already familiar with the prospective employer's website and what it is that they do. Bring copies of your (perfectly proofread) resume, including a list of references with contact information. Don't be overly chatty, but do expand intelligently on questions you are asked. Say "Thank you" when leaving. A more formal written or emailed note of thanks sent after the interview will not go amiss."

- Madelyn Folino '73, Director, Florida Public Library

"Be yourself! Showing who you really are during an interview is refreshing and will make you stand out against the other candidates. Have confidence! You are sharing your story. You know your story better than anyone. This is your one chance to rise and shine!  Be professional! That means showing up early, being prepared with documents with clean and professional attire. This shows you’re taking the interview seriously. Don’t forget to breathe! It calms your nerves and helps you think clearly."

- Rebecca Quicksell '14, RN, Wellness Coordinator, GHVHS

"Nothing bothers me more than an unprepared candidate. Research the company, what they do, who they compete against and understand their market position. Second, understand the role you are interviewing for. If you are unsure, try and research the typical responsibilities for that title within the industry. Answer with clarity, not just a yes or no. Give insight or examples. Have questions prepared ahead of time that can help you see if that job is in fact for you. Personality goes a long way."

- Rob Meagher '95, Owner, LMB Professional Services Inc.

"I cannot stress enough how important nonverbal communication is! First impressions have a lasting impact on an interviewer. Good posture, a strong handshake and carrying yourself confidently will get you a long way even if the actual verbal portion of your interview does not go well. Nonverbal communication also includes dressing for the part; it is better to be overdressed than underdressed so business attire is imperative in most cases!"

- Gretchen Hafner '14, Student Registered Nurse Anesthetist, Rutgers University

"1. Do your research on the company, the role, and everyone on the interview schedule. 2. Be prepared to give real life examples and use the STAR method when answering questions (Situation Task Action Result). You can google this for more clarity. 3. If you find yourself stuck on an answer; pause, regroup, and provide your answer. Excusing yourself and starting over is better than rambling. 4. Follow up with a thank you. Email is more than acceptable."

- Bob Miles '93, Senior Talent Acquisition Partner, RTI International

"Look great wearing business attire. Hair simple and clean and neat. Be yourself. Be energetic. Be able to answer questions. Address the interviewer by name. Why did you become a nurse? What has been your greatest challenge and how did you deal with it? What are your positive attributes? What are your negative attributes? Talk about relationship based care; being a team player. Do you have a good sense of humor - if so, let them know."

- Ellen Coonerty, RN, BSN, BA, CDE, '72, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, NY, NY

"1) By your demeanor, be personable, not informal. 2) Keep eye contact with the interviewer. 3) Listen carefully to the questions. 4) Do not chew gum or any other substance during the interview. 5) ****Dress as if you already have the position. Your appearance will say "This is what you will get if you hire me." 6) Study the company's website. 7) Address them as either "Mr./ Ms." 8) Show you are eager to learn. 7) At the end of the interview say, "Thank you for the opportunity for this interview.""

- Sister Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP, '70, Art and Spirituality Coordinator, Wisdom House Retreat and Conference Center, Litchfield, CT

"Answer the question "tell me a little about yourself" using a 3 step process: 1. The Present: Discuss why you are interested in this position and organization based on the research you’ve done. 2. The Past: Highlight your education, experience and skills that apply to the job based on the job description. 3. The Future: Discuss how you can contribute to the organizations long-term goals. Keep your response concise (no more than 2 minutes), and practice this most often asked interview question."

- Sean Hollywood '96, Fiscal Officer, Howard County Community Resources & Services; Adjunct Accounting Professor

"The obvious is attention to your appearance, maintain eye contact and be friendly/likeable. Explain to the employer why you are interested in working for them. Emphasize that you are conscientious, willing to work hard in whatever area they need you in, to learn new things, and that you appreciate the opportunity to help their business succeed. Good luck and enjoy this very fun time-the beginning of your new adventure. My hope is that you will keep fond memories of the Mount with you always!"

- Paula Parisi-Peaden '82, Parker, Pollard, Wilton & Peaden, PC

"Dress smart and listen attentively! Remember you worked hard for your degree and no one can ever take that away from you!"

- Sarah Bradwisch '92, Professor of Nursing

  


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Question: What are some of the best ways you've found to network?

April 2018

"The best way for me to acquire employment has been through religious church groups. I have my job currently because of a church group member after discussing with him that I was looking for a position. He did benefit from myself getting hired of course. If I never was part of that church group, I would have never met my contact in the company I work at. I have been with Glenmark Pharmaceuticals since Feb. 2016."

- Joe Candela II '11, Quality Assurance Associate / Glenmark Pharmaceuticals

"The best way to network is to roll up your sleeves and get out into the professional society you are looking to get a career in. Joining the Mid-Hudson chapter of the NYS Society of CPAs puts you in direct contact with the people that you will be working for or with for the rest of your career. Join; meet them; go to their events."

- Sean Glander '07, Accountant / Big V Properties

"Network at non-traditional networking functions. Local adult sports league, through your church, schools, or volunteer for events, etc. You will cultivate friendships there and those people will go the extra mile to help you.  Traditional networking avenues can attract those that want help and will give empty promises in the hope you can help them. Later in life you can do this through your children's interests by meeting the parents of other kids."

- Rob Meagher '96, Owner, LMB Professional Services Inc.

"A great way to network is to volunteer.  Find something that you are passionate about, like Habitat for Humanity or ASPCA, and volunteer your time. It is a wonderful way to meet people and network while doing something you love. You never know who you are going to meet!"

- Michelle Iacuessa '94, Director of Alumni Affairs at Mount Saint Mary College

"Professional Conferences Workshops"

- Rhonda Altonen '90, Research Services Librarian

"Through social media. There are groups you can join on Facebook of people in the same field. We give each other referrals and answers to questions.  Some even post possible jobs, etc."

- Joanna McAuliffe '07, Clinical Social Worker

"Never burn a bridge, because you just never know!"

- Sam Watson '16, Analyst / CareCentrix

  


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Question: What resources or websites did you find helpful when you were looking for jobs?

March 2018

"Indeed is helpful but nothing is more important than real life networking. Keep strong ties with successful people and learn what tricks they utilize to become successful."

- Mikel Calamis '17, Inventory-Logistics Manager, The RJTB Group

"I was most interested in finding a job within the nonprofit sector, so I utilized idealist.org!"

- Leanne Labetti '17, Development Coordinator, JDRF

"Network, network, network! People are usually more than willing to help someone or pass along a resume if they can. Take advantage of any relationships you may have, keep in touch with past internships, and utilize the alumni network."

- Jillian Torre '14, Marketing Manager, Financial Times

"LinkedIn, Monster and other Job Boards. I've been found for my last 2 roles by Recruiters via LinkedIn. Don't be picky. Go on interviews to get comfortable even if it's a position you're not interested in. Don't wait for the PERFECT JOB... You need experience, you will have many jobs in many companies over your career but you need to start somewhere. You'll find your perfect job at some point."

- Mark Kelly '03, Marketing Manager, Hunter Douglas

"Indeed. It is the most used and productive one. It is very user friendly. Monster isn’t the best and doesn’t match employees to employers too well. LinkedIn is good to get your name out there but not for a job search."

- Sean Glander '06, Big V

"Indeed was always the best all around. Malakye was great for specific industries and regions. Creative Circle helped, but was an employment agency."

- Patrick Quinn '99, Creative Director, Life of Dad

"Ha! There was no internet in 1982! I got my first job 3 weeks after graduating by answering an ad in a newspaper. It ended up providing me with a great opportunity; full tuition reimbursement for my MSW and life lessons. I will always be appreciative! In 2018 networking contacts are a must. Best wishes to the class of 2018."

- Rita Crana '82, Griffin Hospital

"When I graduated it was a different time. I had a job before I took my boards and was able to work as a GN. My subsequent job came with some challenges as I really didn’t have much experience composing a formal resume so I believe a wonderful resource would be helpful seniors and new graduates with resume writing. The institution of Mount Saint Mary was reputable and spoke volumes in my job search."

- Eileen Weir '86, RN

"A great website for teachers looking for jobs in NY is pnwboces.org. Teachers can choose a specific region in NY where they are looking to work. Graduates can start applying now because positions already are being posted for next school year!"

- Sarah Favata '14, Teacher

"One important quote to follow is this: 'Find a passion in life and you won't ever work again.' Once you have an interest in any field, it is truly important to network--for that, you can join LinkedIn and any other websites, belonging to any career associations. Then, I truly recommend doing an internship by visiting some companies' website. There you'd gain some experience and also establish some connections. For those interested in journalism, for example, you can join NAHJ, NABJ, and others."

- Enny Pichardo '06, National News Correspondent, Noticiero Univisión

"1 - Back then, The New York Times. 2 -  Word of Mouth. 3 - Phone calls to Nursing HR at the top tertiary care, university-based institutions. My first job, with my MSMC roommate, was at Massachusetts General Hospital. I worked in orthopedics and surgery when they performed the FIRST total hip and later, the first total knee replacements. They were doing anti-coagulant studies at the same time to prevent blood clots after such major surgery. 4 - Work at the very best place and learn, learn, learn."

- Ellen Coonerty '72, Diabetes Nurse Specialist, CDE

"My advice to the Class of 2018 would be, 1. If possible, take time off and look around. You have been under pressure for four years and it is time to smell the roses! 2. Look at yourself and try to really decide what you want to do in life. Money is not everything. 3. You may well have a student loan to worry about, don't. Pay the interest to keep current and a small amount on the principal. Keep your credit rating in good standing. 4. Look in the mirror and like what you see."

- Alvin Mann '16, Retired

"Higheredjobs.com was great for teaching jobs at the college level. Indeed.com is also decent."

- Brandon Roberts '10, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice / Criminal Justice Program Coordinator, Piedmont College

"LinkedIn.com, Careerbuilder.com, Monster.com"

- Timothy Skelly '93, Senior Manager/EY

"Use designated websites that are made just for your profession (ex: for teaching - OLAS). Also, directly reaching out in a professional way to people and sending your resume around to everyone is definitely a huge help. Getting yourself out there is one of the best ways to make connections and hopefully land a job."

- Rose Linehan '17, Teacher


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Question: What advice do you have for first-time job seekers?

February 2018

"Realize your dreams and embrace them with enthusiasm and determination."

- Catherine Kennedy '70, Special Education

"The best advice I can offer first-time job seekers is to know the company. Be knowledgeable about who they are, what they do, their history and their mission. Your research will demonstrate to your potential employer that you've done your homework and are ready to invest in the company's future."

- Diandria Williams '12, Hudson Valley House of Hope

"The best thing you can do when you're looking for a job is to get all the hands-on experience you can in your field (even if you're not getting paid for it). Employers want to see initiative and want to know the person they hire has a passion for their trade. Don't waste your down-time on frivolous activities, make the most of it."

- Clarisa Rosario-DeGroate '14

"Don't be afraid to be adventurous! Looking outside of my 'circle' was where I found the most opportunities. Moving to a new city was both the scariest and one of the best moves I made!"

- Brianna Kousin '16, Intern Pharmacist / Cleveland Clinic

"Seek your 'dream job' and do not place too much preference on its salary. Prove yourself with your hard work and then seek the salary. Know also that at times opportunities come not in the field you studied. All in all be well rounded in your educational knowledge and contribute to the enterprise you choose. Be an asset, not just a salary earner!"

- Maria Sasso '70, Real Estate Broker

"Do your research on your prospective employer. It will make the interview easier. Show up early for any interviews. If you schedule an interview and change your mind, call and let the employer know you will not be coming. Be yourself." 

- D.F. '93, Teacher

"Don't rely solely on the internet. Find a place that you would like to work, go there and present yourself and your resume, in person. Knock on doors! Some people will tell you that it is not done that way anymore, that it is 'old school.' It is 'old school,' but so are many of the employers. I am more likely to hire a person that made the effort to come in to my office looking for a job."

- Richard Thayer '78, Dentist

"We look for a well rounded student. Anyone can sit in their dorm, study all day and night, and get straight A’s. We look for the candidate that has a leadership position in a club, activity or non-profit. The candidate should be active in some sort of student government, sports or clubs. The candidate should have volunteer experience to show that they care about the community outside of the college community. Remember: you are interviewing the company just as much as they are interviewing you."

- Sean Glander '06, Senior Accountant

"Do not cut yourself short. Be willing to take risks and change your original plans. However, only change if it is moving you towards your goals."

- Michele Bender '07, Chemistry Educator Newburgh Free Academy

"Simple advice, follow your heart and the compensation will arrive shortly thereafter. Make your vocation a vacation. Put away a little money every payday if possible, not much, skip one or two restaurant outings per payday. You will be amazed with the growth of your money."

- Chris Patton '16, Human Resources

"Don’t think that any job is beneath you. It might not be your dream job, but consider it if it’s full time, heck even if it’s part time. The experience will come with age."

- Susan McCallop '13, Receptionist and Office Assistant

"Don't get discouraged if you are going to multiple interviews. Always research the company you're interviewing and if possible find a connection between you and the company you're interviewing with. Don't lie or overstate something, employers know you have limited experience and want the honest truth about you."

- Angel Aguilar '12, Accounting Supervisor, Mobile Life Support Services

"It's important to look ahead and have an idea of what's next, but don't let that distract from where you are now. Enjoy being in the present and enjoy the time you have left at MSMC. When looking for a job, read over your resume and cover letter. Re-read it. Re-read it again and then give it to someone else to look at. It's easy to jump at the first offer that comes your way, but really take the time to think of how this will benefit you and prepare you for your next steps."

- John Chiaia '17

"Congratulations on your next step of seeking employment. Like a fisherman you must have many casts to catch that desired fish. At times it may become frustrating and you may have to become creative, but when you tie into that big one it is worth all the time and effort. Good luck with your fishing!"

- Michael Fraser '82, Psychologist/Professor

"Be flexible in your thinking! We all have an idea about what our 'ideal' job looks like. When starting out on your new path, be flexible and realize that your ideal job may actually take you down a path you had never even considered before. And never stop learning. When there are twists and turns in the road - you will be ready to navigate them with skills, viewpoints and understanding gained from being a life-long learner. Congratulations Class of 2018!"

- Betsie Huben '76, Real Estate Agent

"If the company you work for has a retirement savings plan enroll when you start working. Contribute as much as you can from the beginning. The investment will be worth it later on in your life."

- Thomasina Macfarland '82, RN

"Be exactly ten minutes early for any face to face interview. Look your interviewer in the eye when you answer questions and speak clearly and positively. Have at least two questions about the company you are applying for a job to ready for the interviewer. Lastly, before you enter the interview process, research the company you are applying to thoroughly."

- John Hutton '03 MSEd, Retired, former bank VP and elementary teacher

"Be confident in the fact that you have graduated from a fabulous and highly respected college and are thoroughly prepared for the job for which you are seeking."

- Theodora Bosch '75, Retired, Wappingers School District

"Don't be afraid to ask questions about your resume and job application. Ask if there are problems with the applications, what is the hardest thing about the job, what would the duties be if I were to be hired. Have confidence in your voice and application and sell yourself. Practice answering common questions so you are prepared."

- Megan Prater '13, Administrative Assistant

"My advice to first-time job seekers is to just be yourself and trust that the last four years at MSMC have prepared you for any curveballs that life might throw at you. As Millenials, we are judged before we even walk in the door so remember to always give 110%, work harder than expected and go above and beyond. The most important thing is to adjust to the new normal of the 'real world'; finding the work-life balance is what will make things better because self-care is very important."

- Olivia Bogle '17, Agency Manager, Angel Touch Home Care Service

"Do not be afraid to explore contract or temporary opportunities. They can afford you the chance to determine a fit for both the role and the culture of a company prior to making a long term commitment."

- Bob Miles '93

"Make a visit to the Mount Saint Mary College Career Center to meet the professional staff. An essential part of preparing for graduating was preparing to enter the work force. Take time to participate in programs and meet with a career counselor. Having the opportunity to work one on one with a member of the Career Center on your resume and cover letter is invaluable. Even for students pursuing additional education beyond Mount Saint Mary College, it will be valuable to start building your resume/curriculum vita while at the Mount with the support of the very knowledgeable career team."

- Ashley '12

  


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Some responses have been lightly edited for spelling and clarity.