We race toward graduation every day; it’s the ultimate culmination of all we do here. But then what?
Each May, thousands of bright-eyed young people – drunk in a swirl of new suits, résumés and online offers for 250 free business cards – cascade into the working world, only to be sobered by the current hard times. What we forget is that another generation shared our plight, and many thrived in the face of hardship. Nick Kompare ’89 is one such survivor.
“I graduated during a recession, so I can relate to what current students are facing,” said Kompare, who is currently the director of competitive intelligence for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “I recall being very proud of graduating, getting that degree that I worked so hard for only to realize that there are so many other new graduates in the marketplace that are just like me.”
Kompare didn’t let the nasty financial climate rain on his parade. He applied for job after job, and interviewed for anything he could get his hands on – even jobs he knew he wouldn’t take. By gaining as much interviewing experience possible, Kompare was ready when his chance came.
That chance came in the form of a credit manager position for a consumer finance company. The job entailed issuing personal loans and collecting as they were paid back. Even though he had been a business major with a concentration in finance, Kompare wanted something different.
During his time at Geneseo, Kompare developed the skills that would eventually get him out of the credit business and into Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.
“I still remember sitting in Newton in Business 101 hearing that ‘wealth is good,’” Kompare said. The basics he learned in his classes allowed his understanding of the business world to blossom. Humanities and other core classes, he said, helped him “think more strategically – [to] see connections and interrelationships that might not otherwise be obvious.”
Geneseo’s social facets taught Kompare lessons about leadership and forming relationships. “If you go out to a party until 2 a.m. the night before a big exam, you’re not going to perform,” he said. “Learning those lessons is part of the college experience.”
Excellus BlueCross BlueShield is part of a $5 billion network of companies that provides health care across upstate New York and insurance all over the country.
According to Kompare, his department is “responsible for analyzing our top competitors, understanding what their strategies are, how they are beating us and how we can be more successful against them.” This includes looking honestly at his company’s flaws and communicating with customers about what they can do better.
Having successfully run the employment gauntlet himself, Kompare is in a position to offer advice to students today. He said that students must realize that there are thousands of other new graduates looking for jobs. “This requires you to market and brand [yourself],” he said, to show how you’re different than everyone else. He also advises new graduates to network however they can – including taking less than ideal jobs or moving to other parts of the country.
Finally, Kompare recommended that students get jobs before going to graduate school. “You will get a lot more out of graduate school studies with a little bit of work experience,” he said. “You don’t know what you don’t know.”