Passing Along the Key to Career Success: Networking
Ask Cory Nichols B.S. ’08, MBA ’10 the secret to career success, and he’ll tell you, "Network, and network often."
As the corporate inspections manager for Eagle Fire Inc., the premier fire protection and life safety company in Virginia and surrounding states, Nichols works with customers and company technicians to provide customer service and with the management team to set organizational goals. His position allows him to utilize the entrepreneurial skills he honed in school, and it’s an example of how networking can change a career path.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in finance from Longwood, Nichols stayed on campus to pursue his master’s degree in business administration.
As a graduate assistant for the College of Business and Economics, one of Nichols’ responsibilities was to greet and provide campus tours for prospective members of the college’s Corporate Advisory Board. Board members serve as consultants for the college, advising on new business trends and practices and identifying internship and career opportunities.
"During my second year in the MBA program, I met Harry Hoffon [the owner of Eagle Fire] on one of these tours," Nichols said. "We spent an hour together walking through campus and talking about Longwood’s history. At the end of the tour, I gave him a business card with my contact information."
The same day that Nichols met Hoffon, he was offered a position as a financial analyst with The Boeing Company, the world’s largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems. Nichols lived in Washington, D.C., for two years while working for the company. Then one day he received a phone call out of the blue.
"Harry reached out to me and offered me a job at his company," Nichols said. "About a month later, my wife and I were packing our things to start a new life in Richmond. He had kept my information for two years after first meeting me on campus."
Nichols said that it’s these connections, in addition to his course work, that made his Longwood experience so valuable.
"Longwood creates an environment on the campus where students are encouraged to get involved. It has this aura about it that makes people better. It isn’t just a college experience, it’s also a life experience," he said.
Now a member of the Alumni Advisory Board for the College of Business and Economics, Nichols helps to give current Longwood students networking opportunities through an internship program at Eagle Fire.
"My advice to current students is to get off the computer and all the job-search websites and go talk with someone in person," he said. "Pick their brains about what they like and what they don’t like about their line of work. Don’t look for a job with the biggest salary. Look for a career at a company that has great management, great people and a great culture. Everything else is negotiable."