Name: Brian Shea
Class Year: 2014
Position: Senior Associate Director of Student, Programs, and Center Operations
Company: Bentley University Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Center (BSLCE)
Can you describe your career path for me? (This may include HS jobs, internships, etc.)
Prior to starting as a freshman at Bentley, I had only worked as a counselor at my local community center. While at Bentley, I worked as a Program Manager in the BSLCE. During the summers, I took on jobs with the Bentley Marketing department, TalentCulture, Cone Communications, and Bain & Company.
After I graduated from Bentley, I spent three years as a Relay For Life Community Manager at the American Cancer Society. (I loved that job and that organization.) I then worked in the Service Learning Center at Merrimack College before returning to Bentley in the fall of 2018.
How did you become interested in this career?
In short, people. I made the decision to come to Bentley after (the legendary) Jeannette MacInnes offered me a job in the BSLCE. While I was a student here, incredible people like Jacky Yen, Gregg Grenier, and Kate Baker helped me to grow into a capable change agent. At the American Cancer Society, I worked with students who were wholeheartedly committed to creating a world free from cancer. All of these people—and countless others—not only helped me to find my passion of preparing students to change the world, but equipped me to develop my skills relating to that passion.
What aspects of your position do you find most rewarding?
I am fortunate to work with exceedingly driven, intelligent, creative students. At times, social justice-oriented community work can be challenging, frustrating, and overwhelming. It can also be incredibly fulfilling, energizing, and fun. Regardless, whenever I’m able to work with students on these projects, I feel as though I’m where I’m supposed to be.
What aspects do you find most challenging?
I love working with Bentley students, but unfortunately, you all have the nerve to leave after a while. That’s the most challenging part. In my office, I’ve officially prohibited all seniors from using the “L word” (that rhymes with “cast”) and the “G word” (that rhymes with “shmaduation”).
What advice do you have for someone preparing to enter this career?
I think everyone follows a unique path, but there are a few pieces of advice I would offer. First, come talk to me! I would love to chat about careers in nonprofits or in the general “social good” sphere. Next, I’d highly recommend engaging in some active networking. Go to events. Find people who could help you to gain a better understanding of the landscape and required skills. (You’ll never be cooler than you are in college—don’t be afraid to ask someone to chat in-person or over the phone!) Lastly, engage in experiences that challenge your worldview, and allow yourself to change the way in which you see the world. The more we can broaden our perspectives, the better we can understand people, communities, and systems.
Are there any Bentley specific courses or resources you would recommend to help someone pursue this career?
There are so many paths that one can pursue in order to engage in mission-oriented work. I’ll gladly make a plug for the Bentley Nonprofit Internships Program course; however, there are incredible courses being offered—across disciplines—that can prepare Bentley students for careers that contribute to social good. Be intentional about seeking them out.
Who is one person at Bentley that helped you get where you are today?
Have you ever seen an award show at which an award recipient wins, looks shocked, goes on stage, and tries to rattle off a billion and one names before the commercials start? That’s how I feel right now. There are so many faculty and staff members who have played a key role in my career journey, and I feel silly for highlighting only one. I must say, though, I would not have pursued a career in nonprofits if it were not for Jonathan White. He helped me to develop critical skills, informed me about opportunities in the nonprofit world, and empowered me to embrace a nonprofit career as a realistic opportunity. He changed the course of my career and my life.