Four successful alumni share insights with new graduates

We asked four recent Davenport grads to share how they got where they are today and what advice they’d give to the Class of 2020.

Vincent Conrad Douglas Jr.-Austin

Bachelor of Science in Biometric Security ’16
IT Business Analyst, Michigan Department of Technology,
Management and Budget

What innovative projects have you tackled?
Michigan was the first state to move the school bus inspection from a paper process to a website. Although I wasn’t involved with the launch of that project, I have spent the last three years maintaining and enhancing the application. The more effective the application, the better inspections can be performed and tracked, and the safer the kids that ride Michigan buses are!

What advice would you give new graduates?
Get in touch with the career services team to help you. Of course, you could look for a great career on your own but the career services coaches are paid to help you succeed. Not to toot her horn but Cindy Whittum at the Lansing campus is amazing! She has helped me find jobs at the last two companies I’ve worked for and set me on a path to success. Thanks, Cindy!

Arnaldo Melendez

Master of Education ’17
Instructional Administrator,
Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS)
Adjunct Instructor, College of Urban Education, Davenport University

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your career?
As an instructional administrator, it’s fulfilling to create and build a strong vision and mission in the school, allowing all students to become successful learners. My position as an adjunct instructor at Davenport has two benefits — supporting and guiding teachers to become highly effective in their field and then later being able to work together as professional educators.

What piece of advice would you give new graduates?
My advice to fellow educators would be to remain focused on your professional goals, create a system of support for yourself, and continue improving your teaching practices through professional development opportunities.

Meghan Reed

Bachelor of Business Administration in Management ’12 
Master of Management ’16
Director of Operations, ITS Partners, LLC

What is the most fulfilling aspect of working at ITS Partners?
I’ve never had a dream job or title in mind, I just always knew I wanted to work in a place where I felt like I belonged. ITS Partners is that place for me. Our core values are Work and Life in Balance, Value Trust First and Driven to be a Better Version of Ourselves.

These values were born the way all core values should be born; we looked at the culture we already built and found them living in it. We truly live and breathe these values every day, whether it’s having those difficult yet immeasurable conversations with our teammates, giving employees a random Friday afternoon off to enjoy time with family or creating opportunities within our company. We treat each other as human beings rather than employees. We work hard and play hard together, and if you ever tour our office in Ada, Michigan, or catch a Zoom meeting, our culture is palpable.

What piece of advice would you give new graduates?
Stay in touch with professors and mentors, and if you don’t have a mentor, find one — I wouldn’t be anywhere without mine. Be patient in finding the right job. I worked four jobs in college (simultaneously) and two jobs after I graduated before I found ITS. While the first jobs I found out of college did not end up being right for me, I still put in my time, paid my dues, networked and learned everything I could so that I would be ready for the right one. Be intentional about every opportunity you are handed, especially the ones that may not present themselves as opportunities right away, because every experience can help you grow.

Zachary Rybiski

Bachelor of Business Administration in International Business ’20
Financial Planning & Analyst Controller, Perrigo Company plc., Germany

What prepared you most for your job at Perrigo?
My internships and my time at Davenport University prepared me for my current position. During my first three years at Davenport, I interned at Robert Bosch, LLC as a logistics and product management intern — and I was able to get practical experience right from the beginning of my college career. During my senior year at Davenport, I accepted an internship at Perrigo working as a corporate FP&A intern.

This internship provided me tremendous opportunities in financial planning with Perrigo. I would not have been able to be successful in my internships and my current career without my Davenport education. The professors were amazing in teaching practical knowledge on how to perform finance and accounting; if it weren’t for them, I’m not sure I would be where I am today.

What piece of advice would you give new graduates?
Do not wait for opportunities but seek opportunities. Prove to companies that you are interested in them. I reached out to Perrigo Germany’s HR department on LinkedIn and explained how I enjoyed interning at Perrigo, learning about their mission and culture, and shared my interest in working abroad. They were impressed by my initiative and they found a position that fit my background.

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