Current Senior Alexander Pereira, from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, has melded his curriculum into his future career path all the while ensuring that future students can do the same. On campus, you can find him studying in the library, playing intramurals like soccer, basketball, volleyball and flag football, at the gym, and being a leader in the Villanova Consulting Group.
During the first semester of his sophomore year, he declared a major in Communications. Specializing in Organizational Communication, and a minor in Business. He had known before coming to Villanova that he wanted to work in a business environment, but it took him until coming to Villanova to explore his passion for the people and relationship skills side of business. As a freshman, since he knew he wanted to pursue something in the business field, he tried Economics. Soon, he realized that the Economic courses were not for him while realizing that he was enjoying his communication classes, like Public Speaking, the most.
He said, “Certain majors and certain courses comes easier to other people, it depends on the person. Like for me I love public speaking, I love presentations, I love getting up in the morning, and I love having conversations with people, so for me I realized that my loves and my skills fit communications after I read about the different specializations. Before when I thought of communications I thought of television, the media, and journalism, but I didn’t realize there was a whole side of with specializations in interpersonal communication and organizational communication. I was able to make links between that program and business.”
So, he realized that Organizational Communication suited his career goals. He explains his academic program as “almost like the liberal arts version of business management where you not only look at how people operate and organize themselves in a business but in everyday life within society.”
By adapting Communications to suit his career path towards business, Alex was able to experience different sides of Villanova. “Having the opportunity to take classes in both Garey and Bartley positioned myself well because I wasn’t sucked fully into one mindset. At the end of the day, I had a good breadth of experience within my classes as a whole. I would say the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences does a good job of exposing students to different types of courses through pre-requisites and general education courses. They can be overwhelming, but as a senior, I now see why we have them because you are able to take these different courses in different areas and see what you like and don’t like.”
The varied courses that he took allowed him to realize his passion for business consulting that led him to take the course Consulting and Organization taught by adjunct professor, Dr. Suzanne Seidl, whom he has taken the last three semesters. Dr. Seidl’s teaching style has Alex’s preferred mix of communication and business, for she teaches communication through a business mindset and has many guest speakers come to her classes.
Dr. Seidl’s class required students to become actual consultants. “Our professor gave us the freedom to pinpoint a problem that we saw on Villanova’s campus, find a client, and work with them to come up with a strategy report, implementation plan, and needs assessment on how to fix it in the best way possible. My client was Kate Szumanski, the Director of Leadership and Professional Development in OUS. I had noticed that consulting opportunities are growing fast in Villanova, but many of those opportunities are housed within Bartley even though consulting is open to all majors. In consulting they want a diversity of thought, backgrounds, and communication skills. That diversity of thought is needed to solve a client’s problem as efficiently as possible. So, I met with Kate to implement a plan on how to spread awareness in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences about all of these consulting opportunities. For that, we created a new ASPD Consulting Course, which will hopefully be running by next year.”
For the course, which would run once a week and be pass/fail, Alex and Kate plan on having Nova Alumni that we are current consultants to come to the class and talk about their own experiences in order to educate students about that career path and network with them. Alex believes that this course could save students time. “From the class, if you can figure out, hey I’m a sophomore, and I love consulting, now I’m going to put my best foot forward and start preparing for interviews and internships for my junior year. Or you say, I took this course, put my best foot forward, met some interesting people, but I don’t think consulting is for me, and now I can focus on different careers.”
Alex has also had multiple internship experiences that have built the foundation for the career he is pursuing. Growing up, he worked alongside his father and his uncle in their family construction business. This work provided him with sales and technical work experience.
Then, during the fall semester of his junior year, he participated in a study abroad program in Sydney, Australia. There, he took courses and worked as a marketing and communications intern for Discovery Communications, which is the umbrella network for channels like Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, and TLC. Throughout the internship, he was given exposure to how television networks work, he helped out with Shark Week, and he was even an extra in some of the network’s commercials.
Last summer, he interned at Burlington Stores in New Jersey as a planning and allocations analyst, a position he received after attending one of Villanova’s Career Fairs and meeting an employer from Burlington. Even though it was a more financial and business type of role, he was also able to engage in elements of communication and presentation that he loves. He recalls that, “It was exciting to be working within that business because the nature of standard brick and mortar retail is starting to go down whereas off-price discount retailers like Burlington are on the rise.”
Currently, Alex is interning in Philadelphia at a Public Relations Advertising firm called the Brownstein Group in their strategy department. He was able to get that position when he learned about the company and reached out on LinkedIn to a Villanova Alumni who works there. She referred him to others in the business and helped him get an interview.
Starting in the summer, Alex will be working as a consultant at a global consulting firm called Accenture in their Philadelphia office, fulfilling his goals of becoming a consultant. “I am really excited to have the opportunity to be in a firm like this, be able to travel, be expected to think on my feet, adapt to different industries and clients, and be able to have consulting training and development invested in me.”
Alex left the interview with one piece of advice. “Balance is important. This is something I still struggle with. I often spend too much time in my academics and not as much compared to other opportunities. What I have been able to realize looking back at my time here, is that obviously you want to come here for a good education and pursue something that you are passionate about, but what is unique about college, something that you may not realize at first, is that there are so many areas where you can learn and develop outside of the classroom like living with someone you don’t know or independently, learning to manage conflict, making friends, and maybe going abroad. All of it is part of the learning experience that makes college so valuable over the degree. It is important to understand that and realize that you should be consciously trying to allocate your time to developing yourself as a person in addition to your studies.”