Back by Popular Demand - Virtual Friday: MBS Alumni Career Stories, Session 4

By: Snigdha Gangisetty

Last Friday, June 5, MBS students enjoyed the fourth installment of Virtual Friday: MBS Alumni Career Stories. We were joined by three MBS alumni who took time out of their schedules to join and share their unique experiences with over 50 attendees. Fun Fact: Each alumnus is a double graduate of Rutgers, having obtained both their undergraduate and graduate degrees from the university! Keep reading to learn more about the speakers.

Matt Watson, MBS ‘18

Matt currently works as an assistant project manager at Arcadis, having graduated from MBS with a concentration in Urban Environmental Analysis and Management. After completing his bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science in 2012, Matt wanted to increase his business acumen while also furthering his technical skills. He was looking to propel his career to the next level and sought out the MBS program because of its unique mix of business and science and its suitability for industry professionals. While working full time as an environmental/project scientist for various corporations, Matthew enrolled as a part-time student in 2013.

During the presentation, Matt remarked several times how impressed he was by the level of access the MBS program provides to industry professionals. This type of access benefits students in their career journeys by allowing them to find mentors and make meaningful professional connections. Matthew also noted that his favorite courses were Project Management for the Science and Technical Practitioner (16:137:601) and MBS’s Leadership and Communications course,  Principles of Communication & Professional Development for Science and Technology Management (16:137:502). In his career, he has seen a real need for employees to possess cross-functional skills, such as the ability to understand the relationship between different parts of the company and to see the big picture. He also noted the importance of soft skills such as communication, project management, and collaboration. While technical knowledge is important, the addition of soft skills makes for a well- rounded professional. 

Matt is an active member of the MBS Alumni Organization and strongly urges others to consider joining!

Nicholas LoPresti, MBS ‘17

Nicholas graduated from the MBS program with a concentration in User Experience Design (UXD). He currently works as a project manager at Wakefern Food Corp and has been with the company since earning his undergraduate degree in 2008. Nicholas started off in Wakefern’s Leaders in Training Program, which allowed him to rotate through various groups in the company. After completing the program, he worked as a space management coordinator before transitioning to the IT department. Within IT, Nicholas has held various roles—as a business analyst, a programmer, a project analyst, and now his current role as a project manager, who manages a team of ten developers and oversees the development/maintenance of ten to fifteen applications.

What drew Nicholas to the MBS program was his desire to help improve his company’s user experience with the new applications they were developing. He wanted to create more efficient and user-friendly applications, and the MBS program offers a concentration to do just that. Some applications Nicholas has been involved in developing include sensors to alert store associates when shelves need replenishment and, more recently, sensors to track the number of patrons entering stores, to maintain appropriate capacity levels for social distancing during this pandemic. It was clear throughout Nicholas’s presentation that he is highly passionate about application development and design and takes great pride in his work.

When asked what advice he could give to current students/prospective employees, Nicholas had some helpful tips and insights to offer:

  1. Keep up with modern developments and new trends
  2. Show a desire to learn and take initiative
  3. Be able to hold a conversation at a personal level (As a hiring manager, Nicholas values prospective employees who exemplify great communication skills. He also appreciates when conversations don’t need to revolve solely around work)

Ivan Mera, MBS ‘18

Ivan graduated from the MBS program with a concentration in Analytics: Discovery Informatics and Data Sciences. After graduating from Rutgers with bachelor’s degrees in Economics, Political Science, and Latin American Studies in 2012, he went on to work as a claims specialist and an English language professor. In 2014, he decided to come back to Rutgers and pursue a data-driven technical degree and resultingly started the MBS program. He currently works for the package processing division at UPS as a project supervisor/data analyst. In this role, he manipulates and processes data to provide solutions and insights for future improvements of UPS’s package delivery business.

While in the MBS program, Ivan participated in a plethora of externships via the Externship Exchange program, where he analyzed data, extracted meaning from numbers, and presented solutions to different organizations. These externships helped Ivan gain real-world experience and get some data projects under his belt.

When asked for his advice to newcomers to a company, Ivan says to bring your entire self and personality. Be open minded and think outside the box. Anyone can learn new skills and tools, but your unique perspective when it comes to problem-solving or coming up with innovative ideas will set you apart from others. In fact, he believes this is what helped him land the job at UPS.

Ivan shared an interesting anecdote from his interview where he was asked the following question: If he was in a barbershop with three barbers, which would he choose for his haircut? The fastest barber, slowest barber, or the medium-speed barber? It seems the interviewers expected Ivan to do some coding to come up with an answer but seeing as Ivan lacked coding skills at the time, he answered the question from a pure-logic perspective and put his unique twist on it. And he believes this is what helped him get the offer!

Summary

In short, the event was a great success. We appreciated having Matt, Nicholas, and Ivan join us to share their experiences and answer our questions. It’s very helpful for current students to learn from and engage with alumni, because they’ve already been through the MBS program and have navigated the professional world. Their experiences, wisdom and advice are invaluable to us.

We hope to host more Alumni Career Stories events soon; It’s clear that students are enthusiastic to partake in them!