New career consultant helps students and alumni navigate career path
By Kim Markesich
The recent appointment of Paul Gagnon as a career consultant for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Ratcliffe Hicks School of Agriculture provides students and alumni with one-to-one career management services.
“The chance to work directly with CANR students in pursuit of their life ambitions was an opportunity that could not be passed up,” Gagnon says. “I enjoy working with young people to help them navigate and imagine their career development because I know firsthand how challenging the whole process can be.”
Gagnon joined the Center for Career Development in February 2013, with a full-time assignment to the College. His office will be located in the newly renovated Young building. He will work closely with the Center for Career Development, the UConn Foundation and the College’s Alumni Association.
“We are thrilled to have Paul Gagnon join the College and School,” says Cameron Faustman, professor and associate dean and director. “He’ll provide internship and career counseling to our students and be instrumental in their efforts to secure employment consistent with their interests. His activities will complement the activities of the Academic Programs and Alumni offices."
According to Gagnon, there are several areas within career counseling that he plans to develop. He will work to:
- Expand the outreach program for potential employers to increase on-campus interviews for internships and first destination positions.
- Create a social media portal (within LinkedIn) that will connect alumni, potential employers and student ambassadors with students, to facilitate connections and establish a virtual mentoring program.
- Organize career expeditions to introduce groups of students to business owners and leaders, and provide information on various career opportunities and paths.
- Assist Meagan Ridder, academic advisor, and Pam Chudzik, director of alumni relations, with Career Night and other College activities. Gagnon hopes to increase the diversity of participating firms to represent more departments within the College. “Working with Paul will give us the opportunity to expand programming and activities that feature the career experience and talents of our many alumni,” says Chudzik.
- Provide one-on-one career counseling that includes résumé and cover letter development and referral to the Center for Career Development for practice interviews for internships, graduate school and employment.
Recruit more employers to post internships and employment opportunities for CANR and RH students on the HuskyCareerLink site database “This site is a great tool for students and employers to manage the recruiting process,” Gagnon points out.
Become a presence within the classroom, lecturing to students enrolled in first year, special topics and senior year seminars.
Gagnon’s own career path has been an interesting one. He received an AS in turf management and BS in plant and soil science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst; an MBA at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY; and an MA in public policy from Trinity College in Hartford.
“My career is actually four careers rolled into one,” Gagnon explains. The first ten years were devoted to learning everything he could about the golf industry, and that experience included holding positions of assistant greens keeper and assistant golf pro. Then, after earning his MBA, for the next fourteen years Gagnon was involved in strategic planning and new business development activities in mergers and acquisitions, product marketing and business analytics for three Fortune 500 international food, beverage and agri-genetics organizations.
Over the past sixteen years, Gagnon has designed and taught numerous business and management courses, advised executives of small businesses and counseled students on career management, both in private industry and at Central Connecticut State University, where he served as interim associate dean. During that time, Gagnon also operated a business development consulting firm and launched the Wesleyan University Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship, which helps students and alumni create companies that address a public need in areas such as healthcare, education and sustainable agriculture.
Gagnon’s interesting career path will serve him well as he works with students at the beginning of their careers. “I see things from a very broad perspective,” he explains. “I am looking forward to the late-August arrival of our students, when my first full academic year with them will begin.”