Gatepost Interview: Rich Davino – Director of Career Services and Employer Relations
By Ashlyn Kelly
What is your professional and educational background?
I graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh with my bachelor of arts in speech communications and minor in psychology. After taking some graduate classes, I went back to SUNY Plattsburgh to complete my master’s degree in ... counseling, with an emphasis in college student affairs. And so in a professional background, I’ve been in higher education as a staff member for probably just over 25 years. I started off in residential life. I then morphed into Career Services. I then walked into a combination of career services that I did academic advising with graduate students and doctoral students. ... I did a lot with internships. ... I worked at Seton Hall University in New Jersey for five years in career services. I then moved back to Massachusetts and I worked for Boston University for about a year and a half doing the academic advising piece. Then I worked at a place called Framingham State University from 2007 to 2012. I left Framingham State and worked at Dean College doing the internship and career services piece for two and a half years. And then I worked at Becker College for Jve years doing Career Services. Now I’ve had the good fortune of returning back to Framingham State in the role that I had in the office that I had.
What brought you to Framingham State?
It was an opportunity because at that time I had been an associate director at a few different places. So, part of it was an opportunity to become a director. On the attraction side ... being a product of state school education, I really identified with a lot of amazing things that go into being a first generation state school graduate and I wanted to be in a position to give back. I felt like I could identify with students. In some ways, I can identify with everybody in the same way. In some ways, at that time I felt like I kind of get this. The second trip around, it was a little bit different. I’m eight years removed from Framingham State. I feel like I’ve grown my skill set a lot – taking on internships in a totally different way, taking on academic advising in a completely different way, and still really appreciate the whole state school piece and what that can help students achieve. So that’s certainly a part of it and part of my makeup and part of my mindset. But I also know Framingham State has changed a lot. A lot of upper administration has changed. The commitment in trying to get better at it every day and we’re not there yet, but the commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and anti-racism is not something you see at every school, especially the anti-racism piece. Those were all things that were important to me, are important to me, and drew me back into wanting to apply.
What is your role at FSU and what does your job entail?
I am the director of Career Services and Employer Relations so my job is multilayered. The overarching piece of it is to oversee the Career Services Employer Relations Office, the operation, which means supervising six other folks – an office manager, an internship coordinator, career counselors. ... It’s to deliver on the idea that we want to help students try to figure out how to make their major, their concentration, their minor, their passions make sense or connect them to what comes next. Each member of my staff has a piece of that in different ways engaging with employers and encouraging them to take on FSU students either as interns, volunteers, entry level employees. ... My specific responsibility to summarize it – get specific – is everything from engaging with those employers to overseeing the office to meeting with students directly. ... It keeps me grounded. It makes me understand what students are looking for from the office, what joys they’re having, and what struggles they’re having. It also helps me connect with my staff. If I’m meeting with students and they’re meeting with students, I know what their jobs are like and I think that’s really important for me to understand what they do on a daily basis. Plus, honestly, it’s a lot more fun than looking at budgets, spreadsheets, reports, and all the other things I need to do.
What do you like most about your work?
I love watching students succeed. If I’m a part of that, that’s great, but I don’t need to be a part of that. I really like witnessing it. I love when a student writes that resume and thinks it’s really good and all of a sudden they apply somewhere and they get interviewed. I had been working with a student, reached back out to kind of get an update wondering how things were going and he was overjoyed on the fact that he just landed an internship after going through a whole interview process. He was worried about getting an internship for the summer. It really needed to be a paid internship. He really needs to earn credit because it’s a part of this curriculum. ... That to me is why I do what I do. That’s his success. He did all of that. ... I wasn’t sitting with them during the interview process. So that’s awesome.
What is your number one piece of advice to students?
Allow us or someone you trust to help you along your career journey. Do a little something every day to try to identify what you’re passionate about and what you can see yourself doing as that first job after you graduate. Along the way, I think it makes those tough times of, “Wow, this class is really hard,” or “There’s so much else going on in my life, what am I even doing here?” or “I’m not sure if I’m gonna even make it to next week, forget about the end of the semester,” [easier] when you start to sort of see a vision of your future. ... It really helps serve as an internal motivator to keep going and get there. Find that support however you can find it, hold on to those people, and, hopefully, also be that support for other people.