Alumni career services helped Matt Pagano ’09 adjust his career path and achieve a balanced life
By Stephen Wilson
Testing key messages in a television ad before it airs. Making sure a product name will resonate with consumers. Studying materials used by sales reps before the team hits the road.
All of these are done in day’s work by Matthew Pagano ’09. As research manager at BuzzBack, a consumer behavior and brand management enterprise, he leads a team that oversees projects in the health care sector, leveraging his extensive background in cognitive psychology. He balances his career with activities he loves, including taking Italian lessons and volunteering with the NYC alumni chapter.
Sounds like the perfect life … if that sense of perfection is recognized.
He started to see it but only after meeting with his “personal career coach” through the Gateway Career Center.
Matt discovered that career guidance was available from Lafayette even beyond graduation and spoke with Margie Cherry, associate director for alumni career services. While Matt needed to explore a new career direction with Margie, he found that she also offered services like résumé and personal statement reviews, and interview preparation.
Pagano had moved through some transitions.
Following his graduation from Lafayette, he dove into a master’s program in cognitive psychology at Villanova.
“After completing my master’s and giving my career path more thought, I realized it wasn’t the right fit,” says Pagano. “I just wasn’t intrinsically motivated to be an academic.”
He decided to change course. But now what?
He lacked the credentials and desire to pursue counseling psychology.
A friend from Villanova talked with him about market research. With his background in human subjects research, he took a chance. While he liked the work, it failed to leverage his quantitative skill sets.
“Part of this journey is learning about what I liked to do in a professional setting,” he says. “We each have our own constellation of strengths and weaknesses, interests and abilities.”
He was at an alumni association event when he was referred to Cherry.
“We want to make it easy and valuable for alumni to engage with us,” says Cherry. “Asking a quick question or setting up an appointment is simple through the Gateway Career Center website.”
“She provided a Career Services 101 for me,” he says. “She was empathetic in her personal guidance, instrumental in her feedback on my résumé, and pivotal in her perspective.”
Meeting with her gave him a fresh start, so when a recruiter reached out about a position at BuzzBack, Pagano was ready. Nearly four years in, he has earned several promotions.
“It was a privilege to have her at my disposal,” he says.
He’s now the person sending her referrals from other alumni at chapter events, in both English and Italian.