Despite Recession, Student-Alumni Contact Helps Graduate Land JobDespite Recession, Student-Alumni Contact Helps Graduate Land Job
Stephen Nigolian '08 had expected to receive a job offer from the Bank of New York Mellon when, two days before, the company froze all hiring.

Stephen Nigolian '08 had expected to receive a job offer from the Bank of New York Mellon when, two days before, the company froze all hiring.

It was September 2008, as the financial crisis neared its lowest point, a stomach-churning time for investors as well as young job seekers.

On one day -- September 29, 2008 -- the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 777 points, or 6.98 percent.

Ten months would elapse between Nigolian’s graduation in May 2008 and when he finally started working at Bank of New York Mellon in April 2009.

His lengthy job search is a tale of perseverance and lessons learned.

As a student and business administration major, he admits he didn’t concentrate on the job market. He says he was confident that job prospects would remain stable.

"I didn’t feel like I needed to be in a hurry to find a job. I could not have been more wrong," said Nigolian. Most classmates shared his outlook, he remembers. "We were not aware of how rapidly things would change in the labor markets nor of the impact it would have on our job searches."

By the summer of 2008, he was applying to at least two jobs a day. One of them was at the Bank of New York Mellon, where Nigolian was in contact with Ithaca College School of Business alum Dan DiMarco '05, whom Nigolian had known long before arriving at Ithaca. DiMarco gave him an insider’s knowledge of the position and described qualities managers would be looking for in candidates.

"What I had to do was explain how I could apply my previous experience and education to connect the dots with the functions of the position," Nigolian said. "Employers really are not too concerned about what you’ve done, no matter how great, unless you can show them how it will make you successful in the position."

The bank interviewed him twice in late August.

"I was confident I was going to get that position,"’ he said, but then the markets collapsed.

So almost every week, starting that September, he sent an e-mail to each manager with whom he had interviewed. He wanted to keep his name before them "and show that I was committed to working for the company. I feel that was very important in preventing me from getting mixed back in with the other applicants."

In March 2009, the bank called to see if he was still interested in the position and asked him to come in for a brief interview -- which ended with a job offer.

Today Nigolian is an account administrator in Global Institutional Investor Services at Bank of New York Mellon's office of more than 400 employees in East Syracuse.

All those applications through the fall and winter led to many interviews, every one a chance to refine his skills, he says.

"The experience taught me that you must make the most out of every communication with an employer and use every opportunity to go to an interview and sell yourself.

"It takes a lot of practice learning how to handle interviews. You are going to face several types of interview styles; the more you experience, the better off you will be in handling them.

"So even if you don’t want a particular job you keep getting contacted about, go to the interview anyway and practice your pitch."

Nigolian played two seasons of varsity football for the Bombers, before two injuries ended his career. Sports were part of a well-rounded college experience he considers vital to the job search because it taught him to deal with different personalities and situations.

"Once you enter the work force, these skills are important because you will be faced with many different personalities and management styles," he said. "You must be able to recognize them and adapt to the different ones when dealing with managers, coworkers and clients if you want to be successful."


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