Fulbright Alumni Share Secrets of Success
Fulbright College alumni Adam Glasier, Suze François and Matt Tolson returned to Old Main in February to share their advice and experiences for working in corporate America. The dimmed lights and an audience of about 10 students created a small, intimate setting that felt like a discussion between the panelists and students, who had the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the program and to introduce themselves to the panelists.
Todd Shields, dean of Fulbright College, started the evening by telling students that the skills they learn from a liberal arts education will always be useful – a sentiment that was echoed by others throughout the evening. Following the welcome, Erica Estes, the college’s director of employer relations, introduced the panelists and asked several questions regarding their jobs and past college life.
Glasier, a senior operations finance manager for Walmart, said he hasn’t had a typical day at any of his jobs. François, a senior manager with the Walmart Foundation, said that she is working toward better work/life balance but hasn’t been successful so far. Tolson, a senior management recruiter for Walmart, said a major part of his job is relating to people who have different cultural backgrounds.
The evening’s two most beneficial questions for graduating seniors were “How do you get your foot in the door of a company without knowing anyone?” and “What kind of skills do you use?”
Tolson explained a couple of ways to go about getting a job at Walmart without knowing anyone in the company, such as temporary positions, which include both entry level positions and specialized positions, and working at a store. François added administrative assistant positions as another way to get in the door.
“If you start off as an administrative assistant, you could let your boss know about your aspirations and possibly be given an extra project related to what you want to pursue on top of your regular administrative assistant duties,” she said.
Employees use numerous skills every day. Tolson found that being inquisitive, thinking critically, communicating effectively, listening and being open to challenges, skills he learned while in college, immediately helped him after graduation. Glasier added reading and interpreting information to the list, advice also given by François.
“Critical thinking and the ability to synthesize information are vital to success,” Fran François said. “Good research skills and reading were also important. They allowed me to learn about topics beyond my education and expand your horizon.”
“Don’t ever limit yourself,” Glasier said. “Take what you’ve learned in the past and see how it can make you more valuable in the future.”
Tolson had a similar strategy, saying that a first job can help in preparing for future jobs.
“The key is to ask yourself, ‘What can I learn from this that could help me in the next job?’”
When asked about what advice they would give to their college self, the panelists gave excellent advice. Glasier said he wished that he had taken more electives as an undergraduate student. Tolsan encouraged students to challenge themselves to do the hard things, such as taking on another major or minor, participating in class and in extracurricular activities, studying abroad and putting in extra effort to be in a particular group. François urged the audience members to take in what’s around them, learn about their community, have fun and do more presentations.
“You have to do a lot of [presentations] at work,” said François.
François also emphasized the importance of “soft skills” and how they can influence others in either a positive or negative way. She suggested building a network of reliable people.
“You don’t just want to think about what others can do for you; you also need to return the favor and do something for them.”
One of her last pieces of advice was to be humble.
“You may think that you know things, but you don’t know anything,” she said.
The Corporate Careers Panel was one of several events this semester sponsored by Fulbright College and the Career Development Center to help educate and empower students to fulfill their career goals.