As a Business Administration major at Mansfield, Kristen Beals '04 admits she should have paid more attention to her professional skill set. Now, the AVP and Professional Development Officer with FCCB has returned to campus not only to help ensure that current students appreciate the value of their transferrable skills but also to help refine them with her company. 
"While technical skills and knowledge are crucial, I quickly learned that connections and interpersonal skills are equally significant in advancing one's career,” recalled Beals. "I wish I had known earlier how vital it is to actively seek mentorship and professional development opportunities.”
Beals says that while the close geographical area of FCCB and Commonwealth University-Mansfield was an initial consideration to implement an internship partnership, the professional development programming and opportunities for career experiences were significant factors in FCCB's decision to streamline their hiring process for Commonwealth students. As part of the new partnership, Beals attended several Career Connections Expos and other student events on multiple Commonwealth campuses. Not only was she able to find potential hires, but she also found that as an alum, she was able to mentor students.
"It was incredibly rewarding to see their confidence grow with each interaction," said Beals. "Moments like these underscore the impact alumni can have and remind me why I continue to volunteer and support these initiatives."
According to Beals, the most impressive aspect of her interactions with students was their drive and determination and the level of preparation they demonstrated through their questions. Beals says that being involved with current students is mutually beneficial; while students can practice networking and communication, her company gains fresh perspectives and enhance growth opportunities with potential hires.

"The students I met were exceptionally driven and eager to make a difference in their chosen fields," said Beals. "Seeing the programs Commonwealth has for students to succeed is very impressive, and I have heard from many students who now appreciate this approach." 

With 43 branches in four states, the Mansfield based bank is working to incorporate new ideas while reinforcing a small town culture where everyone feels like they belong. 
"[As an alum and an employer], I can bridge the gap between academic learning and professional experience," concluded Beals. "Volunteering and recruiting provide a chance to influence and mentor the next generation while gaining access to a pool of talented and motivated individuals. It's a fulfilling experience to see students grow and succeed, knowing you played a part in their journey."


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