CHRIS HART-WILLIAMS | Editor-in-Chief
Black young professionals, working and excelling in the corporate world, shared their personal experiences with students on Tuesday night.
The N.C. State Black Business Student Association, BBSA, invited a panel of Black professionals to campus for a discussion and networking event entitled Young, Gifted, and Black in Witherspoon Student Center.
The seven panelists answered questions regarding their careers and life since graduation. “Remember why you came here,” said Christina Mass, an alumna of the Poole College of Management. “You’ll need it to keep going, go deep.”
Mass graduated from N.C. State with a degree in business administration and marketing in 2009, and she’s currently pursuing a graduate degree in Career Counseling Development.
She encouraged students in attendance, especially upperclassmen, to not give in to hardship while in school or in the corporate world, but to grow from challenges. “Y’all have to make it, you made it too far to give up now,” said Mass.
According to her there is much to gain from a job that is uncomfortable. “It took me two or three jobs to figure out what I wanted to do,” said Mass. “Gain as much as you can from that experience and grow.”
It doesn’t matter where you come from, success as a professional is attainable, said one of the other panelists Otis Ricks a senior in the Advisory Services practice at Ernst & Young. “At N.C. State there wasn’t a gift that was given to us,” said Ricks. “Aim to be the boss, not the employee.”
Panelist and PNC Arena Assistant Vice President, Business Relationship Manager Christopher Fredrick, said two things he regrets not doing while in college was studying abroad and interning.
“Try out any internship opportunities you are interested in so you know if you like it or not, said Fredrick. “It may change your life, it may change your major.” “Keep in mind the type of reputation you put out because it starts now,” said Karen Bestman. “I never knew what it was going to do,” said Me’chelle Degree, a senior consultant for Sciquest a software company. “People like to talk and people like to help you. Talk to the people that are out there actually doing it.”
Degree stressed the importance of relevant work experiences for students and the purpose of networking. “You don’t know who knows who – people network all the time. You definitely want to have an internship, you need internships. Everyone is graduating now, the pool of looking for a job is different now. It makes it even better if you’ve already had exposure to different things.”
Building relationships can help navigate your career choices, said Fredrick. “Even if you don’t like the job at your internship, make sure you do your best, and make friends.”