"My eyes popped out of my head when I saw that he was a member of Commonwealth Honors College, had a high GPA, and substantial internship experience and involvement in campus activities,” recalls David Goldstein ’61, after reviewing the resume of Adam Benvie ‘16.
Goldstein had received a LinkedIn message from Benvie, then a UMass Amherst student looking to connect with alumni at IBM. Goldstein, a longtime IBM employee, had recently retired but was still doing consulting work in the company’s Global Sales School. Goldstein was intrigued.
After seeing Benvie’s resume, Goldstein was convinced that this was someone IBM would want to hire. The two had a few phone conversations during which Goldstein learned of Benvie’s interest in working for IBM’s Watson division. “Adam’s timing was good, since I was teaching a class to a group of Watson sellers at that time,” says Goldstein. He connected Benvie to one of his current students, who was so impressed that she urged Goldstein, “We have to get him here.” After graduating in May 2016 Benvie started his position as an offering associate at IBM in August.
Starting in his first year at UMass, Benvie, who majored in operations and information management and economics with a minor in political science used the resources at the Isenberg School of Management’s Chase Career Center. He learned how to build his resume, to use LinkedIn effectively, and the etiquette of reaching out to alumni and employers. “When it comes to finding a job, these skills are useful to everyone no matter their major,” says Benvie. During his senior year, Benvie chose to pay for a subscription to LinkedIn Premium so that he could directly contact people working for companies of interest to him. He targeted his LinkedIn searches to Fortune 500 companies not currently recruiting at UMass Amherst, and further narrowed his search to UMass Amherst alumni. Benvie estimates that he contacted about 100 people, and received two responses from UMass Amherst alumni.
“David quickly became my mentor and advocate as I sought to join IBM,” Benvie recalls. “He was my coach in the corner during the whole process, making introductions, sharing knowledge of what the company was looking for in applicants, and prepping me on what questions to expect in the interviews.”
Goldstein says that when he was a student at UMass, “no structure existed to prepare students for careers. In fact, when I was at Columbia University getting my MBA, I almost didn’t go to IBM’s recruiting event on campus.” IBM hired Goldstein into its finance organization and he went on to the sales division. He had a long career with the company that brought him to 14 countries and 47 U.S. states.
When asked what caused him to mentor Benvie, he says, “I want to help any student with Adam’s initiative and drive. Furthermore, I didn’t get to where I was by myself. This current generation needs all the help they can get. Anyone who has an opportunity to help the next generation should.”
A new tool now exists to help generations of UMass Amherst students and alumni connect. The UMass Amherst Alumni Advisor Network is a powerful online platform that facilitates one-on-one career conversations. It was created for alumni professionals, young alumni, and current students to connect and network about careers. It builds a profile from each participant’s LinkedIn account, and provides a way for students and alumni to contact each other, review resumes, and conduct mock interviews at no cost. A simple keyword search can help Commonwealth Honors College students and alumni find each other.
Now, students like Benvie no longer have to invest the time and money that he put into his job search. They can just click and connect.