Real Life: College to Career – Michael

Michael Cunningham, Associate at Lonergan Partners, Inc.

Michael Cunningham, Associate at Lonergan Partners, Inc.

Name: Michael Cunningham
Age: 23
Where they went to college and their graduating year: Santa Clara University, 2014
Current place of employment: Lonergan Partners, Inc.
Job Title: Associate at Lonergan Partners, Inc.
Current place of residence: Mountain View, CA
Hobbies and interests: Music, Movies, Crossfit, Surfing, Cooking, Rugby

Q: Did you start college with a clear idea of what you wanted your major to be? If so, what did that look like and how did that change during your time in college?

A: Upon enrollment in Santa Clara, I was in the business school. However, I had no idea what I wanted to study at first. By the end of my freshman year, I decided I wanted to pursue a major in public health & pre-medicine. I transferred out of the business school at the end of my freshman year and ultimately earned by B.S. in Public Health Science.

Q: Can you walk me through the detailed step-by-step process that you went through to get your first job out of college?

A: I honestly wasn’t sure what type of job I wanted coming out of college. I just knew that I didn’t want to jump immediately into any sort of grad school. I decided to keep an open mind in my search process. I started my job search process in March of my senior year, using only the resources the career center at my school provided. I found the job I have now through a job posting on the career center online database. When I came across the posting, I had zero knowledge about executive search or high-tech. However, I soon became excited about the idea of learning more extensively about technology and working in an environment that allowed me to use my interpersonal skills every day. After a few rounds of interviews, I received the offer in early May. I interviewed for four other positions, primarily in sales, but those interviews did not progress beyond the first round.

Q: What aspect of that process was most challenging or stressful for you? Looking back, what advice would you give to college students to make this aspect less challenging?

A: Going through several rounds of live interviews was certainly a stressful process for me. I would advise college students to do their homework beforehand and present themselves and their knowledge with confidence.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the interview process is a two-way street. Besides testing for industry knowledge, both parties should be concerned about chemistry to ensure that there is a good cultural fit. In that sense, it is important to be yourself during the process. Don’t try and fool the interviewees; it likely won’t turn out well for all involved.

Q: What was the biggest adjustment or adjustments for you going from college to full-time employment?

A: The long workdays without having the luxury of nice breaks in between classes.

Q: Do you have any advice for coping with these adjustments?

A: Always find a way to be proactive and forward-thinking in your work. This will keep you busy and motivated throughout the day. If you feel that you are bored or being underutilized, offer to contribute in ways that exceed the responsibility of your role. You must think of yourself as part of a team in the working environment, and learning to ‘wear many hats’ can make you a more dynamic player going forward.

Q: What are some of your current short-term goals?

A: In the short-term, I would like to be a primary consultant when leading a search. That would mean getting to own the client relationship from start to finish on a search, providing counsel about each candidate throughout the process.

Q: Is there anything else about your college and career experience that you would like to add?

A: If your fist job isn’t your dream job, it’s not the end of the world; but give it a chance! Sometimes you just have to fight through the growing pains of being on the bottom of the totem pole. Job hopping after short stays is usually not the answer (unless it is a significant career advance), and may prevent you from building a strong network of references.

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