In our quest to find students or recent grads who were familiar with AfterCollege and based in the Boston area, we got in touch with Casey Hsiung. Casey is a Marketing and Finance major who graduated from Boston College in May 2012. After dealing with a few initial speed bumps, Casey began working at Inter-Con Security in January 2014.
We catch up with Casey to learn about the job search process and what she’s learned along the way.
Where do you work and what do you do there?
I just recently (January 2014) started a Contracts Analyst position at Inter-Con Security Systems, Inc., which is a private security contractor specializing in physical security.
What have you been doing since you graduated?
I have been working this whole time, but at two other companies. Unfortunately neither of these companies proved to provide stable environments, as I was laid off at the first, went through five months of unemployment, and then almost laid off at the second (I accepted the offer at Inter-Con right before).
These experiences have taught me a lot and I believe they can attest to the difficulties of new-graduate unemployment. My job at Inter-Con has proven to be the most promising and is in an industry I would be very happy to stay in.
How did you go about your job search?
Because of the multiple challenges that face entry-level applicants, I took advantage of every job-hunting resource available. I reached out into my network and spoke to former supervisors, professors, and other connections for job leads and recommendations to increase my competitiveness in the job market. My alma mater provides resources such as interview workshops and alumni networking events, both of which I found effective.
I also utilized online job boards like AfterCollege, which is how I landed my current opportunity at Inter-Con.
On the other hand, social media is an undervalued tool for the job search process. It allows you to develop your personal brand while connecting with others you otherwise would not meet. I interviewed with a manager once who was impressed by my online professional profile—a huge benefit that differentiated me from the other candidates.
How long did your job search take?
Job searching is indeed a tedious process that requires a lot of patience, determination, and preparation. For me, it took about five months of interviewing for many positions before landing the right one with the right fit.
My advice is to stay confident and not to settle for less. Don’t grab an offer simply because it is the only one given to you at the time. Always consider other factors such as who you will be working with, company culture, exit opportunities/career growth, etc. Don’t forget that it is a dual-sided process; no one wants to work somewhere and not be satisfied with their job!
How did you become interested in your field?
Growing up, I always loved watching action movies filled with scenes of bank heists and police chases. If you think about it, security infrastructures in movies are always poorly planned, which is why the villain steals the jewelry in the first place.
What I am doing now actually has a direct effect on how security is organized and implemented. At Inter-Con, we contract, train, and equip security personnel while ensuring our security services are top-notch and impenetrable.
We also deal with multi-million dollar government security contracts, which have exposed me to the different facets of security planning for agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Marshals Service.
What have you enjoyed about your job the most so far?
Although I just started this contracting position, I really enjoy the challenges that have been present thus far. A lot of what I do necessitates a work ethic that thrives under little or no direction.
My teammates and I have demanding schedules, so for the most part I figure out things on my own. As for projects, I am currently analyzing materials ranging from contractual commitments and collective bargaining agreements (unions) to economic indicators in order to substantiate estimates and facilitate logistical instructions to operational teams in the company.
One could compare it to putting together the pieces of a very large puzzle. As I gain more experience over time, I hope to have a direct impact on security proposals and have opportunities to sign large contracts since they both utilize leadership functions.
What advice would you give to college students who are interested in pursuing a career in your field?
Security operations tends to have many technicalities involved but is something people with different backgrounds can be successful in. Since everything is intricately related, it is very important to be able to comprehend industry and client information.
In my position, dealing with hundred-page contracts and proposals requires accuracy and an inclination for noticing minute details. A missed mistake could cause legal or operational issues elsewhere.
However, a contract analyst position is generally something that can be very rewarding if performed well. It could lead to a lucrative career depending on contract size and client type—or lead to jobs for the federal government and large companies such as Boeing.
Homework time! Casey talks about some of the techniques that helped her in her job search—attending alumni events and workshops put on by her school, maintaining her online presence, and using job search resources like AfterCollege. Set aside 15 minutes to schedule an appointment, polish your online profile, or explore jobs. Let us know how it goes!