By Scott Maguire
There are many places where students can work post graduation. One of the most stressful parts of graduating from a university is the thought of joining the real working world rather than going back home and living with their parents. One opportunity of employment that provides a unique experience that might not be obvious to students, is working at the university they attended. Fitchburg State University graduate, Michael Bober, works the FSU IT Helpdesk and speaks about his experiences of his employment situation.
Michael currently works as a Technical Support Specialist, however this profession was not originally what he had planned. Michael explains,“People generally assume (logically) that I was CS (Computer Science) or CIS (Computer Information Systems), but actually I came to Fitchburg State for the Comm Media program, specifically Film/Video. After my first year I decided to switch over to English so I could focus on writing (screenwriting). I felt the literary emphasis there would lend itself really well to screenwriting.”
While he was pursuing his degree, Michael unknowingly explored a work study interest that would eventually help him get a full time job in the future. When asked just how Michael got his current job, he said, “I started out in FSU’s IT department as a student technician. I had been working for GCE in more of a “file clerk” role, but one of my friends was gunning for a spot in IT’s summer student crew and persuaded me to apply too. I didn’t get it, but they interviewed me during the summer for a fall position. I had little in terms of being computer savvy, outside of some A/V knowledge, but I’m a quick learner and have a good attitude (at least most of the time) and that will really take you a long way.”
One aspect that Michael explains as something unique to returning graduates working at their school is the transition from student to employee. “For the most part, having been an undergrad here made the transition really easy – I knew 75% of the staff and faculty from when I was a student, and the layout hadn’t changed much. I hadn’t even been gone a full two years, so many folks didn’t know I’d left. For a while I had to remind folks I had graduated, but everyone was and has been friendly and professional. Sometimes I would get mistaken for a student (by the 25% I hadn’t known), although that’s not really an issue much anymore. Perhaps it’s the business casual dress, the way I carry myself, or just that I look older.”
There are certain advantages to being employed by universities in general, especially FSU where employees of the school are able to take courses for no cost. Michael has been taking advantage of this. “I’ve taken French courses and this semester am studying Spanish, and I’m also finishing up an MBA. That’s an incredible value and something that’ll serve me well for the rest of my career.” He also explained that he enjoyed the “laid back” atmosphere of working on a college campus.
Michael summarized his feelings of Fitchburg, “Students used to talk about the “dirty burg” but I always thought that was really unfair. Every town has some sketchy parts, and Fitchburg is no exception, but there are a lot of excellent restaurants, parks and cultural points of interest in Fitchburg and the surrounding area.” Michael currently resides in Leominster, but grew up in Connecticut, and due to his job, he is able to stay in the area he has gotten to know very well.
Michael explained his thoughts about the school and the hiring of students in general, “I think it’s a testament to the quality of our students that they’re frequently hired back into full-time positions, but that’s almost always after they’ve been seasoned at other companies or institutions. They’re also vetted by going through the same hiring process and meeting the same qualifications as other candidates, so you know it’s not just nepotism. Yes, there are definitely opportunities for students to be hired back (and not just in IT), although that shouldn’t really be an expectation, either.”
Although not every student can be hired back to the university based off of the amount of students and positions available, there are opportunities for students who have established connections and meet the qualifications. There are certainly benefits available to those who do. While graduating students are filling out their future job applications, applying to their school might just be worth a shot.