A Keene State College faculty member is attempting to build bridges between New Hampshire-based businesses and KSC students.
Daniel Henderson, director of Corporate Relations at KSC, said he created the Business Speaker Series not only to benefit the students but the businesses as well.
“It is an opportunity for business leaders to talk about their business — what sorts of skills they’re looking for, and what sorts of opportunities there are for students,” Henderson said, ”For the students, it is an opportunity to see what sorts of businesses are out in the world, what they do, and whether or not it is something they could be interested in.”
Henderson said this is the first year the series has been formalized and has an actual name, but this is not the first time he brought businesses to campus.
“Last year I had five or six companies come and talk, but it wasn’t a formal series,” he said, “It went well and led to some students creating opportunities for themselves.” Henderson said he also sensed an interest in the businesses wanting to come to KSC and better connecting with students before graduation.
The meetings generally consist of a small presentation by the business or businesses, followed by an extensive question-and-answer session, where students and business leaders get a chance to connect. Students asked questions such as, “What can I do while I’m still in school to get a foot in the door at a business?” or, “How did you make connections post-graduation?” The business leaders also offered general advice for students as they transition from college to the work force and attempt to get jobs.
Brian Lavoie, a KSC alumnus and senior vice president of commercial lending for Eastern Bank, was one of the speakers brought to campus to talk about his career as a banker. Aside from doing that, Lavoie gave the students in the audience advice that applied to everybody.
“Our parents before us had those industries, like IBM [International Business Machines], where your dad would go do the same job for forty years and have a pension. That doesn’t exist anymore,” Lavoie said, “Working hard and keeping your nose clean puts you ninety percent ahead of everybody else. You don’t have to be smarter — just ask questions, be sincere, honest, show up to work early or stay late. Those few things will separate you from everybody else and provide you opportunities for advancement.”
Gregg Tewksbury, president and CEO of Savings Bank of Walpole, told students about the uncertainty he faced when he was a young adult fresh out of college and offered advice for it.
“I never aspired to be a CEO, and from the time I went to college I worked hard,” Tewksbury said, “My dad told me work hard and things will happen, and I did.”
Henderson said he tries to bring a wide variety of businesses to campus to reach out to as many students as possible. This year he has brought public alert systems manufacturer Whelen Engineering, Keene-based industrial printing system manufacturer Markem Imaje, biotech company Avitide, Savings Bank of Walpole and Eastern Bank. Henderson said he feels the series has proved beneficial, but could use bigger turnouts.
“I’d love for more younger students to come, because it’s a great opportunity early in their academic lives to start thinking about what life after college might offer,” Henderson said, “It’s a terrific opportunity, it doesn’t cost anything, and you never know what doors it might open for you.”
The next Business Speaker Series presentation will feature growing metal casting company Hitchiner Manufacturing on Wednesday, Dec. 5, and Henderson said he is already lining up speakers for spring 2015.
Jesse Reynolds can be contacted at email@example.com