Finding a job in a tough economy is difficult, and finding one you love is even tougher. Bryant’s Class of 2021 is heading out into the world ready to start great careers – and to use their education in ways that matter to them.
Furthering diversity, equity, and inclusion have long been a passion for Derrick Leroy Jr. ’21, who will be starting in Travelers’ Operations Leadership and Development program after graduation. Bryant helped him match that passion with a major in Human Resource Management. “The more I learned about HRM, the more I realized ‘This is my route. This is how I can help people,’” Leroy states.
Working with companies such as Target on real-life projects helped him translate classroom lessons on managing and inspiring people into making a real difference. “You see how your courses translate to everyday life – and they definitely translate,” Leroy says.
"You come to school for four years of your life to prepare for the next forty of your life. Everything I’ve experienced has helped me to become the person I am now.”
One of his favorite projects involved working with The Tomorrow Fund through his Management Principles and Practices course, which partners students with local nonprofit agencies to work on semester-long assignments. “You get really hands on,” he says. “You don’t just analyze something or write up a report about it – you actually get involved. You visit the facilities, get to understand the people that work there, and work with them to solve problems.” He also appreciated the opportunity to use his talents in the service of others.
Leroy, a member of Bryant’s Division I football team and a founder of the University’s Woke Athletes social activism organization, says that his 24/7 Bryant experience in the classroom, on campus, and on the field has helped him build a bright future. "You come to school for four years of your life to prepare for the next forty of your life," he notes. “Everything I’ve experienced has helped me to become the person I am now. I’m proud of that.”
As he transitions from college to career, Leroy credits Patricia Miernicki, the Assistant Director of Career Services for Bryant’s Amica Center for Career Education, with assisting him every step of the way. “She’s been like a second mom,” Leroy laughs. "She's one of the biggest supporters I've ever had and she set me up on the path to success."
“I was introduced to a world of possibility I never expected to have access to.”
College, says Marketing and Sociology double major Hannah Bloomwald ’21, is about exploring your options. “Bryant sets you up for success because you have the opportunity to make your own destiny. You have the resources and the building blocks to figure out what you like and what you don’t,” notes Bloomwald, an incoming Franchise Customer Success Operations Analyst for VMware. That mindset helped her find a position that was a perfect fit. “When I saw this job come up, I said "Oh, this is what I want to do,’" she recalls.
She relished the freedom to find an academic path that fit her perfectly. “The Marketing curriculum exposes you to a little bit of everything, from sales to marketing research,” states Bloomwald. “You get a sense of all the directions you can go in, but you also get to make your own decisions as you go along.” Exploring her options also led her to Senior Lecturer of History and Social Sciences David Ciliberto, Ph.D., and Professor Judith McDonnell, Ph.D., who helped her discover a passion for Sociology and develop a better understanding of how people think – skills she knows will help her succeed in the future.”
In her first year at Bryant, Bloomwald attended the University’s Clubs and Organizations fair, where a member of the Bryant Sales Team encouraged her to join the group. Through the team, she found a network of mentors, including Professor of Marketing Stefanie Boyer, Ph.D., and older students, who helped her discover development opportunities, career options, and internships with top organizations such as HP.
“He doesn’t just say ‘Here are your formulas and here’s what you’ll get as outputs.' He always goes further and show us what those formulas really mean and how to apply them.”
“The network I’ve built at Bryant is one of the things I’m proudest of,” she says. “I’ve made so many friends and so many important connections that I know I’ll keep in contact with.”
Throughout her time at Bryant, Bloomwald has found opportunities to develop her skills and challenge herself – from competing in regional and national sales competitions to helping organize and run the annual Northeast Intercollegiate Sales Competition. “I was introduced to a world of possibility I never expected to have access to,” says Bloomwald. “I’ve always had a strong work ethic and Bryant offered so many opportunities I could take advantage of.”
Tools for success
This summer, Actuarial Mathematics major Leah Ryan ’21 will be joining Unum’s actuarial development program. She chose attend Bryant because she knew the University’s Actuarial Math program was one of the best in the country and a perfect fit for her chosen field.
Ryan realized early that she loved analyzing problems and coming up with solutions, so she’s excited to get started in her new career. “As an actuary, you're using data to project what you think is going to happen and then prepare for that happening,” she explains. “It's a very complicated analytical field, so you need to really understand what's going on.”
“None of my professors or advisors ever said, ‘This isn't something you can do.’ They said, ‘Let’s see how we can make this happen.’”
Mentors such as Professor of Mathematics Rick Gorvett, Ph.D., were always there to help her understand what her technical analyses actually meant to the real world. “He doesn’t just say ‘Here are your formulas and here’s what you’ll get as outputs,’” Ryan notes. “He always goes further and show us what those formulas really mean and how to apply them.”
The addition of a Team and Project Management concentration brought another dimension to her education, and helped her develop her strategic thinking abilities and her ability to work with others. “Now I have this really technical math degree but I also have soft skills that people in my field sometimes struggle with,” she points out.
As part of the interview process for her position at Unum, she had to analyze an industry case study, derive key insights, and then present her findings – tasks her Bryant coursework had more than prepared her for. “It felt a lot like class,” she admits.
Her four years at Bryant also built Ryan’s confidence and now she aims to become a leader in her field. “Everyone is here to support you,” she says. “None of my professors or advisors ever said, ‘This isn't something you can do.’ They said, ‘Let’s see how we can make this happen.’”