Sometimes, what looks like a roadblock turns out to be a guidepost to success.
Greenville native Timothy Thomason ‘16 said that after graduating from Riverside High, his first thought had been to attend a state technical college, but he said that after emailing the school, he did not feel the staff there gave him the attention that a student deserved.
Rather than succumbing to this roadblock, Thomason changed course and enrolled at the University of South Carolina Upstate. He said that, at the time, he thought he knew the correct path for him, but as it turned out, he was due for yet another course correction.
“I started college as a pre-law student interested in becoming a real-estate attorney,” he said. “It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I decided that pre-law was not the best route for me. I messaged the department of Informatics to inquire about the unique department and fell in love with the IMS program. Speaking with the faculty is what made me realize I had a passion for not only technology, but for what it can do for organizations. I was meant to be an IMS major.”
Not only did Thomason find his career path at USC Upstate, he took advantage of offerings, including Career Services, to help him advance along that path.
“Career Services was an amazing resource for me as a student at USC Upstate,” he said. “I met with Sherry McAdams on multiple occasions and she assisted me with interview questions, role playing, resume critiquing and general career advice. In fact, I obtained two of my three internships because of internship fairs and events hosted by Career Services. Career Services prepared me for each of my interviews, which led me to obtain internships with Applied Network Consulting Group, BMW Manufacturing and UnitedHealth Group.”
The internship with UnitedHealth Group would eventually lead to a job offer, and in January, Thomason embarked on his career with UnitedHealth Group || Optum Technology.
Thomason said he knows he was fortunate to find a good fit so quickly, and offered valuable advice for students who might be struggling to find the right career path.
“If you do not know how to transfer what you are learning in your degree program to the workforce, you may need to talk with Career Services, your professors or do some research,” he said. “You cannot expect an employer to know what your value-add is if you don’t even know. This is particularly difficult for students with multi-disciplinary majors like mine, so I recommend that students do research and network with professionals and alumni that share your major or professional interest.”
In working with Career Services, Thomason said he found an excellent resource for students who might not understand all the nuances that contribute to a successful job search.
“When I went to Career Services for the first time I had a two-and-a-half-page resume that was written with no professional goal in mind,” he said. “Quickly I learned that everything on your resume should be of value. A resume should be concise, informative and well worded to show your experience and knowledge.”
Thomason said he hopes more students will discover the value that Career Services offers to students who are looking for rewarding careers.
“I believe Career Services is an asset … that is underutilized,” he explained. “I have talked with many of my peers that either did not fully understand the value of Career Services or believed they didn’t need assistance. I assure you, it is worth your time even if it is to have a second set of eyes simply look over your resume.”
In addition, Thomason stressed that having a degree doesn’t necessarily translate into having a job.
“A lot of students focus on the value of their degree or significance of their major, but you have to show that you are of value as well,” he said. “In this competitive market, a company may interview 30 other candidates with the same major, so why should they choose you if others have the same credentials? You must differentiate yourself and be confident when showing employers that you will add value to their company.”