Name: Paul Stanish
Class Year: 1996
Position: Senior Assistant Director – Pulsifer Career Development Center
Company: Bentley University
- Can you describe your career path for me?
During high school and my time at Bentley I had many jobs. My primary job was working at a video rental/one hour photo lab for 8 years. That was the first job I had in which I learned about what it means to provide excellent customer service, become a problem solver and the art of merchandising. Additionally, I worked as a painter, a Bentley orientation leader, a retail supervisor for a convenient store chain, and my favorite past job, driving a wheel chair van for a private ambulance company.
Following college I worked as a manager for CVS corp. in multiple stores. 3 years into that role I moved to central Virginia and continued the retail management track in addition to training managers in 3 mid-atlantic states. That training included cosmetic merchandising, inventory control, photo lab processing/installment and overall day to day operations.
After 7 years at CVS, I pursued role in higher education. Frankly, while I liked many aspects of the retail industry, I wanted a career that was a little less stressful and offered a better work life balance. So I reached out to contacts I had in higher education and started applying. With a little luck and timing I was made aware of an opening at Bentley for a student center operations manager. After speaking with my many contacts at Bentley I applied and after interviewing I was hired. I started in August of 2003.
My first 13 years were in the student affairs division. I oversaw the student center operations and student employees associated with services in the building. Over my time in the division I took on additional roles such as managing the shuttle bus service, operations for the commencement week trip, the approval of large scale student events and facilitating the freshman seminar and CDI classes for first year students.
In 2016 a role in Bentley’s Alumni relations office opened and I applied. When I was hired it was a bitter sweet moment as I felt like I was established and made my mark in the student center, but eager to start a new position at Bentley. And as a Bentley alumnus, what better place to work on campus than the alumni office. I enjoyed that role, primarily working with various regional chapters, planning and executing parent weekend, and assisting with many of Bentley’s centennial celebrations. The highlight of that year was managing 2 campus appearances by Red Sox star David Ortiz.
Simultaneously, I was still facilitating CDI classes for the career development team. And about 2 years into my alumni position an opening occurred in Career Services and after speaking with many people on that team, I applied for it. Since April of 2018, I am currently the career coach for students studying Marketing, Creative Industries, Media & Culture and Information Design and Corporate Communications.
2. How did you become interested in this career?
My wife is a college professor at another institution and when I saw the impact she had on students and understood the work life balance I said I want to be in that industry. Also, I’m not sure my strengths, especially relationship building, were maximized in other industries, so this seemed like a good fit.
3. What aspects of your position do you find most rewarding?
The opportunity to make an immediate impact on a student, or other member of the community. I also like the challenge of problem solving with students. When an appointment is scheduled, one is never sure exactly what the student will need to discuss and what their reaction will be to the information shared. Sometimes students need a kick in the butt or sometimes they need that affirmation regarding the actions they plan to take. Either way, it is always rewarding when a student respects and understands any advice or information given is coming from a place development and growth.
4. What aspects do you find most challenging?
Although the academic year is cyclical, there are times of the year that are simply unpredictable. We have no control over the external business environment and as markets and industries change, so do hiring patterns. Case in point is the pandemic we are managing now. It has been challenging and a little fun to pivot our operations and services to maintain consistent student engagement. It is also hard to share information that students either do not want or are not ready to hear. And in the current climate while we remain positive we also have to be realistic with hiring expectations especially for students in the majors I work with.
5. What advice do you have for someone preparing to enter this career?
You need to have good communication skills, both verbal and written. Everyone needs the desire to keep learning. If you are content with your career knowledge, there is no doubt you will underserve your student populations.
6. Are there any Bentley specific courses or resources you would recommend to help someone pursue this career?
Any of the management courses offered. Interpersonal relations, negotiation, organization behavior, diversity in the workplace are all courses I would recommend.
7. Who is one person at Bentley that helped you get where you are today?
Undoubtedly Gary Kelly. Gary was instrumental in creating a positive experience as a student. He hired me in 2003 for my first job at Bentley. Then he played a role in hiring me for the alumni relations job in 2016. He has been my supervisor and mentor many times over at Bentley.