By Hattie Bernstein
What does success look like?
At SNHU it looks like Mona Jalilzadeh, a 2014 graduate of the master’s in IT program who landed her dream job in a top software company; like Jose Raposo, an MBA student acing one course a term and aligning his progress with his company’s growth; and like Sinechra Massias, an undergraduate business student juggling a full-time job, a full schedule of classes, and church volunteer work close to home and around the world.
Mona Jalilzadeh is beginning her career as a visualization technical consultant at Autodesk, a design software and services company ranked 70th on Forbes’ list of the 100 best companies to work for in 2014.
It’s her dream job — and one she was ready for after completing her graduate courses in IT at SNHU, working for SNHU Career as a data specialist and studying software used by Autodesk on her own.
Communicating her skills and experiences could have been an obstacle. As a non-native English speaker, Jalilzadeh, an Iranian citizen educated at universities in Malaysia and Britain, often would forget words or make grammatical mistakes. But she knew she’d get help at SNHU.
“You see everyone working hard to support students,” she says. “No matter who I’d contact, I’d get help.”
It made a difference. She received resume help and coaching about interviewing and salary negotiation.
“I took advantage of the career center’s guidance and applied to more than 200 jobs in a month,” Jalilzadeh says.
By November, she was ready to begin her career at Autodesk.
“This job is a great job because it can challenge me. I can see the advancement. It’s not just a job, it’s a career,” Jalilzadeh says.
Attitude is a powerful motivator.
Just ask Sinechra Massias, a COCE student pursuing her bachelor’s degree in business operations and project management.
While working full time, Massias takes a full course load and volunteers at her church, which is involved in efforts around the world that include everything from blood drives to beach cleanups.
“I feel it’s definitely important to have a positive mindset, especially when things feel overwhelming, a little difficult,” she says. “I tell myself, ‘It can be done.’ Then, I start to think of solutions.”
In her job at DHL in New Jersey, Massias is responsible for seeing that merchandise gets from port to retailer. Two weeks before Thanksgiving, she was helping to manage pickup and distribution for Toys “R” Us and dealing with a union strike on the West Coast that threatened to disrupt the flow of toys into stores during the holiday season. Her schoolwork was no less daunting.
“I do homework at lunchtime at work, two and a half hours after work at the library, and on Sundays,” she says.
Massias’ goal is to become a project manager. SNHU Career has helped her develop her resume and keep in mind the qualifications and search points hiring managers are seeking.
“I have endurance, and I constantly push myself to believe I will be able to accomplish my goals,” she says. “There are times when you face challenges and wonder if it’s worth it. But you have to make yourself continue, to never give up.”
Jose Raposo had a biology degree and a job at Boston Scientific, a large medical device company, when he made an unusual decision: look for a position in a smaller company and align his career goals with the growth of that business — even if it meant taking a cut in pay and grade.
“I really liked the business and concept of production and operations,” Raposo says. “But it was difficult to stand out and progress in such a large company.”
He accepted a position at a lower level at Conformist Inc., a Bedford, Massachusetts, medical device company. Then one Sunday about a year later, while watching TV and mulling over his future, he saw an SNHU commercial that mentioned a graduate program in operations.
“I didn’t realize there was a specific degree, and I was so excited when I saw it,” Raposo says.
His plan was to take classes toward an MBA with a concentration in operations and supply chain management with the hope of moving up the ladder at Conformist Inc. But, it wasn’t easy for a biology graduate to switch into a business program.
“Economics was my first class, and it was challenging. But I forced myself,” he says. “It was week to week, class to class, and I got nothing lower than an ‘A.’”
Recently, with only a few more classes to complete, Raposo applied for a different position at his company, something he considered “a foot in the door.” But an interviewer offered him something bigger — a job as a buyer planner in supply chain management.
“My hope at the end was an opportunity for me to apply my degree,” says Raposo, who started his new job just before Thanksgiving. “Luckily, I did, and I’m not even done with school.”
Yet Raposo didn’t realize how far he’d come until he talked with an SNHU Career advisor.
“She gave me feedback that made me sit back and say, ‘Wow. I really accomplished what I set out to do,’” he says. “She just put things into perspective for me.”