On Oct. 29. Darren Conway, a graduate of Mercyhurst from the class of 2009, came back to Mercyhurst to provide insight into corporate America to students. Conway’s visit was a part of the ongoing Alumni Speaker Series organized by the Office of Advancement and Academic Support. Conway came to the United States from Ireland when he was 18 and has remained here in Erie ever since.
Throughout his presentation he expressed the importance of having goals. When Conway graduated, the U.S. economy was in a recession. He got a job bartending out of school to make some money while he figured out what he wanted to do in the future. He stated that it is not a bad idea to take some time to get settled after college, especially if graduate school is in the future for the student.
Conway discussed how when he went on to get his Master’s degree, he felt that it was useful to have some professional experience compared to the naivety of some of the students attending graduate school immediately following their undergraduate studies.
One ideology Conway stressed during his presentation is that Mercyhurst is a great school but can be a safe zone for many students. He highly encourages students to branch out and explore the city and meet other people in the area. While Stone Wednesdays were as much the rage back then as they are now, Conway wished there were times when he went downtown more to establish connections with people from Gannon or Erie professionals. Networking can provide more opportunities than one would think, he said.
He also stated that spending an extra half an hour or hour in the library reading over notes will be extremely helpful. Conway said in hindsight he would not have missed out on anything and he could have put more effort into his studies which would have benefited him in the long run.
After school, Conway began working for General Electric, which was the largest employer in Erie at the time. He told students that they should look into the top hiring companies in their own cities, because especially for entry level jobs, the larger companies are more likely to hire you and offer opportunities for someone to grow in their career. GE provided him with many opportunities and helped him with immigration sponsorship. GE also helped him get his Master’s degree, which he felt that he needed.
In early 2019, he decided that his interest and goals had expanded beyond what the company could offer him. He wanted to work with a team and expand his personal skills, which he did not feel he was on the path to accomplish at GE. He looked for a new job and accepted a job at Eaton Aerospace, a multinational power management company. When he gave his two week notice to GE, the company offered him $5,000 more to stay.
Conway asked each student what they would have done in this case, and almost everyone said they would still take the new job. He said that is what he would, and did, choose. In his new job for Eaton, Conway manages a team and travels during each quarter to places like Los Angeles, Fort Worth and the United Kingdom for his work.
His new job is under the supply chain realm which Conway said that he did not even know was a path he could take until he entered the work world.
Another tip Conway had for students entering the workplace is to interview at least once a year. He compared it to lifting; if you could lift 220 pounds, and then did not work out for a year, you would not be able to lift 220 pounds on your first try again.
You must keep your practice current. Along the same lines, Conway told students to keep their resumes current. He said that if Elon Musk can have a one-page resume, so can you. One last tip Conway left for students is to have a mentor.
This person does not need to be in the same field as you but having an experienced person to balance out your career considerations is very helpful. One of Conway’s mentors is a CEO of a smaller business, who has provided great insight and help to Conway during his career. Overall, students were very thankful that Darren Conway came back to Mercyhurst to bestow his useful knowledge of the corporate world onto students.