This blog article is based on the College Talks & More podcast brought to you by Mybookcart.com. Hanna and Cari interviewed Matt, who offers information about a young professional group called Pulse and how to get a job after college. He started out by giving a brief overview of himself:
My name is Matt Calcagni. I work at Quinnipiac University and I oversee their marketing sales of athletic events. I’m also a board member for the Pulse young professional group, which is out of New Haven county. I’m happy to be here with you all today.
What is the Pulse New Haven Young Professionals Group?
Pulse consists of eight members initially serving on it’s board. I am one of these members and we have a great relationship with the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, which is rare for a lot of young professional groups. Our mission is simple: we bring young professionals together from various industries and we connect them, not only with each other, but with members in our community either by networking, educational, or social events. Pulse is just a group of young professionals trying to engage and learn more about the local community. They also try to find opportunities and enhance relationships that are formed as a member of our group.
How does Pulse help students find a job after graduation?
Pulse has a variety of opportunities for graduates or anyone looking to find a job after graduating. We do that by setting up networking events that help to grow their marketability and expand their brand. Throughout the year, we coordinate a number of workshops and meet-ups with local professionals. For example, this past fall, we had one of our signature events where we invite local guests who set up breakout sessions that are specific to certain topics, one of which was LinkedIn. A lot of universities now might require a student to create a LinkedIn account. Essentially, in my opinion, LinkedIn is a professional version of Facebook and I think it is under utilized for a lot of students or graduates looking to enter the job market. So we had somebody speak about that and the best practices on how to use LinkedIn to market themselves to others. We also had HR Consultants join us to speak about resume building and the best practices for interviews. Lastly, our another professional we had was a photographer. What they did was provide professional, high-quality head shots that they would send back to the graduate. They could use the head shots as their new LinkedIn profile picture or any other social media picture. Again, in terms of Pulse and students finding jobs after graduation, there’s growth opportunities we provide them that we hope will enhance their brand and marketability to local businesses. Also, with our relationship with the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, we have great resources where we can know what businesses are hiring. It’s great for us to please people if they reach out and let us know what they’re looking for. If you go to the Greater New Haven website, there’s a jobs tab where you can scroll down and if you see something as a graduating student, please reach out to us. We’d be happy to put you in contact with someone that’s more knowledgeable in that job or whatever it is you’re looking for.
Who can be a member of Pulse, how much is the membership fee, and what does the membership fee include?
We don’t really go by guidelines of who can be a member. I like to say that anybody can be a member, but typically we do find people that are either 21 or between the ages of 21 and 40. We find that a lot of our members fall into that age range anyway. Our members come from various backgrounds and industries. In terms of who can be a member, anybody can if they’re motivated to join us and be part of our mission. Also, in terms of fees, we do offer a lot of free events and we have great sponsors that will donate food, beverages, or a space to hold the events. There’s really no cost to us, so there’s no cost to our members. Again, if you go to gnhcc.com, there is a tab at the top that, if you scroll to the right, you’ll see Pulse. You can click on that or hover over it and there will be a drop-down bar, which will lead you to a membership link and from there you could see that we have different information regarding memberships. Whether it’s a business or company that’s looking to team up with us and offer our services to their employees or if it’s just a student or young professional looking to join on an individual basis. That fee is $45 and what usually comes with that type of membership is access to specific and unique events and then discounts for events that may have a cost associated with them. In short, anyone can attend a lot of free events, so there’s really no need to sign up but if you want the full experience of being a member, it would be $45.
So it sounds like if someone was still in college and they were looking at building their resume and getting ready for a career, they could still be a member of Pulse. Is that correct?
Absolutely. Again, I work at Quinnipiac University and some of the students that I work with have come to the events just to learn more. They heard me talking about guest speakers coming up and they wanted to hear those speakers, so they came and loved it. You can come to events that correspond with what you’re interested in or just come to check it out, but you are absolutely correct with that.
How often does Pulse have networking events and where are they usually held?
Typically, we aim to have at least one networking event each month, but depending on the time of year, we will have two or three per month. We stick to the Greater New Haven area, although sometimes we have events in Milford, too. Our strong relationship with the Greater New Haven district is beneficial to us. I think that’s it.
What types of educational seminars does Pulse provide and how often are they held?
We have a number of seminars associated with different backgrounds, so from health and wellness, work-life balance to professional industry-specific seminars. One of my favorites was when we had Nick Wedge speak with us about the innovative projects that he and his team are working on. Nick is a Connecticut native, who is the head of learning and development for Uber and their advanced technologies groups. Through our partnership, we had the opportunity to display a seminar that he was putting on and extend it to our members. It really helped people within the industry to learn more, make connections, and get excited about their interests and options. The seminars themselves are different topics, but that was just one example of a seminar that we recently did.
So when I was reading up on Pulse, I went to the Pulse website and it mentioned that you are involved with community service projects. Can you tell me a little bit about that and do you have to be a member of Pulse to get involved?
You do not need to be a member to get involved. We do like to, as a community group, give back and support the people that support us. We take care of people that can’t take care of themselves. We’ve teamed up in the past, around the holidays, with the Yale New Haven’s Children Hospital to do a toy collection. We also planned to team up with Fish of Greater New Haven to host a food drive. They are a nonprofit organization that delivers groceries out to folks within our community who are either homebound or are really in need. Those are just two quick groups that we have worked with. We’re also open to other relationships and helping out as many nonprofit organizations as we can. Those were the top two that came to me off the top of my mind because they really speak about what we do for the community and the projects that we try to be a part of.
So, what is the benefit of doing networking events, seminars, and service projects for a recent grad?
I think the number one reason will be to get yourself out there, connect with people, and be part of the community. Realistically, I think a lot of what we do hopefully aligns with a lot of students trying to graduate. I think the diversity that we have and whether it’s a seminar or event taken, we have a lot of topics that we cover that we think they’ll be interested in. Through those we hope the young professionals meet like-minded people that will enhance their journey. I think to just be involved and show up to an event, even if you don’t know anything about what it is, is good to be able to experience something new if they haven’t done so already.
Is Pulse nationwide or specific to Connecticut only?
Pulse is just specific to Connecticut, but there might be a Pulse in California. You will see if you’re looking at young professional groups that there are a number of them actually in Connecticut. I know one that we partnered with was FUEL, which I think is located in Shelton. Closer to where you all are is SPARC, which is located in the Greater River Valley. There are a number of young professional groups located in Connecticut. We are specific to the greater New Haven County, but there are national ones that you could find across the nation. Another thing that we try to do is when connecting with our business partners, they might have some people that are moving from out of state to Connecticut. Not just Connecticut to Connecticut, but for a job relocation. We try to serve those companies by sharing what’s local and introducing their employees to the community so that they feel like they’re welcome and can see if it’s a good fit for them. Again, if you were to look across the nation, you would find a number of young professional groups putting on events similar to what we do.
Does Pulse provide any mentorship programs?
We don’t have any, but we have found that when we do our events, we see some of the members or even if they aren’t members, come to an event to find somebody that shares the same background and interests. Through that relationship, they do become mentors to each other. So again we don’t really have an official mentorship program but if that is something that interests a graduating student, don’t be afraid to ask because we are interested in connecting people with other people and expanding relationships. That’s the power of networking.
So for any current college students, what kind of college major would you say would benefit most from joining Pulse?
All backgrounds are welcome. Again, we have a diverse membership pool and with resources and connections from the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce so we really can fit all backgrounds. In terms of planning events or opportunities we may present throughout the year, the graduates might jump from a robotics seminar or discussion to something different that is in the health and wellness field. Everyone is welcome and there’s really no limitation to certain backgrounds or interests that people have. They can join us and come to our events anytime.
Over the last few months things have obviously changed a lot due to Covid-19. How was Pulse affected and how did Pulse adapt?
Like many organizations, Covid-19 threw a curveball on how we operated. We had to actually cancel one of our March Madness happy hour social events because of it. We’ve moved to a lot of virtual channels in social media and leaned on them more. We do have a Pulse Instagram and a Pulse young professionals group on Facebook. We’ve been leaning on the social media platforms, including Zoom meetings, as I’m sure a lot of people have whether it’s for classes or for meetings. Again, we really went digital and in May, we held a State of the Jobs Market seminar with a recruiter and an HR professional. They spoke about what was going on within Connecticut and the job market because within the state of Connecticut and the nation, we’re all affected to some degree from Covid-19. A lot of people were concerned about what Covid-19 means for them, so I think for us to really use and utilize the social media platforms and Zoom meetings is how we adapted. We were actually thinking about how this reopening and the different phases in Connecticut will affect our events moving forward. It’s something we have to be thoughtful about and understand it’s affecting everyone.
Have you noticed if Covid-19 has affected participation at seminars hosted by Pulse?
It certainly has an effect. To be honest, our virtual conversation about the State of the Job Market was one of our better and well-attended events. I think it lasted about an hour, but we had probably half of the members or attendees just stay for the whole thing, where some people just stopped in for a little bit to see what it was about out and listen to what they were interested in. We had two different people talk about different things, but I think there’s a heightened sense of being involved more because people want to know what’s going on within their community. I think it will affect some of our attendees moving forward. If we were to have something in person, I’m sure the amount of people there would drop off a little bit just out of concern or precaution. There’s still a lot of unknowns with the Coronavirus so everyone’s trying to be protective in some way or another. I could see us staying with virtual or some kind of online social events in the near future. I think we will have some sense of security with the vaccine or whatnot. I do think Covid-19 will have some sort of effect on our events moving forward.
Were you involved with Pulse before becoming the public relations chair?
I wasn’t too knowledgeable about Pulse. I just learned about Pulse through my network. It turned out that one of my colleagues at Quinnipiac took a position with the chamber. We’re really grateful for the chamber because they provide us some leadership. I know Garrett Sheehan, Tameika Miller, Jesse Phillips do a great job for us and with us. It was really through my network that I learned about Pulse and they said they had an opening for a chair on the committee. I said, “This is something I want to be part of,” and that’s how it came to be.
So does Pulse help you personally?
Absolutely. Again, it’s really expanding my network like I’ve met so many people through Pulse. It’s just unbelievable. At first, you have to go slow because it’s a new change and there are many names and faces, so it takes time to learn a lot of people. In terms of my career, I think it’s great just because it extends my network and if I have any questions, like I think a lot of people could be pigeon-holed into what their job role is and really don’t have a resource to reach out to. Through Pulse, I have met many people in different industries that I can really reach out to and bounce a question off of them if I’m just curious or want to learn more. Overall, in long terms, it’s going to be a great move for me just to be part of Pulse.
You mentioned earlier that you work at Quinnipiac University. Are you involved with any other college related organizations?
My work with college and Quinnipiac athletics is the extent of what I do at the university level. It’s really a full time job in it’s own right. Again, I think my position itself touches upon a lot of different areas within the University. I’ve been privileged to really wear a lot of hats, learn a lot of things, and get connected whether it’s with student affairs, commencement, or spring concerts. It’s not just what I do for the University and athletics, but also how I contribute to the community at Quinnipiac and really inspire the students that I interact with daily and see how I can help them achieve their goals. In short, I think that’s the extent of my working life at Quinnipiac. I can’t really say more than that.
What sports does Quinnipiac offer and how did Covid-19 affect them?
Primarily, I work with men and women’s hockey and basketball. At the time, in late or mid March, we are looking to go to our playoffs. For basketball, we were going down to Atlantic City for the first year as part of the Mac Championships for basketball. Then, we were looking to host the quarter finals for the ECAC Men’s Hockey. In the middle of that, we knew Covid was really on the horizon months ahead. Quinnipiac actually pulled many of their students out. They can’t force them, but they suggested that the students who were studying abroad in Italy follow suit and leave. I think that was earlier than other universities and a lot of people are thankful for that. Not only athletics, but Covid-19 has affected the whole university. Also, we have a lot of Ivy schools that, within athletics, we play against. On the hockey side, we were actually looking to go up against Yale, but their athletic director and leadership team decided that it’s in the best interest to pull themselves out of competitions just because they didn’t want to put their student athletes in harm’s way. There’s a lot of uncertainty and precautions so we were scrambling to find an opponent to play and I think it was Princeton at the time. Everything happened so quick that the NBA was the first professional league to make the decision to cancel or suspend the rest of their season. Within athletics, once that decision was made, everyone followed suit and were really trying to figure out how to navigate to online, distance learning, but also how to stay connected with our student athletes because there was so much change happening very quickly. Communication for us was very important, but overall I think we did a good job at managing that as best as we could.
Is Quinnipiac University planning on offering sports to student athletes this fall?
So as of right now, we are planning for a full season for fall and winter sports, primarily speaking about the basketball and hockey seasons. There might be some fall sports that start earlier, like soccer, that might be affected. With Covid-19, we’ve looked at reducing the distance that a lot of our teams travel, whether it’s on planes or buses. I think those types of sports will be affected and have a shortened season, which might eliminate some non-conference games, but still have their regular conference schedule and a championship at the end of it. For the most part, the earlier sports will be affected to some degree and as long as things trend down and reopen within the state, those guidelines (I know we are currently in Phase 2, but I think there’s up to Phase 4 at least) could allow us to have a full season for our main sports. I feel bad for the schools and universities that have football because they start even earlier with practices. To a certain extent, our basketball teams are typically on campus taking summer classes and doing workouts to try to get better and prepare for the season. It’s really interesting how this pandemic has changed the landscape of college athletics and the college lifestyle as a whole.
What is your favorite sport?
I have to say football. That’s my favorite, but my second favorite would be baseball. They can be crazy, but I love sports. I always grew up playing them, so if I had to pick one, I would have to say it’s football.
What’s your favorite sports team?
For football, the Indianapolis Colts are my favorite team.
Not the Patriots?!
Not the Patriots. I just want to have my own team and everyone is either on the Patriots or the Giants. There are very few on the Jets, but I just wanted my own team. At the time, I was a big fan of Peyton Manning and I said, “Wherever he gets drafted, that’s the team I’m going to latch onto.” Even when he moved on, I was still a Colts fan. That’s how I led myself to be a Colts fan, but for baseball, I like the Dodgers and the Yankees. For basketball, I like the Spurs. Gotta love Tim Duncan. I went to school at Siena College, so in terms of hockey, I’m a Sabres fan. They’re really a strong group.
So one last question and it’s back to talking about Pulse. How does Pulse advertise to college students?
One of our sponsors is actually Southern Connecticut State University and we’ve partnered with them to kind of be known in that university. We share what our mission is about with their students. Also, as a Quinnipiac employee and new leadership with Judy Olian, she’s become more engaged with the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce. We’re starting to direct market more: we have pamphlets, a website, and social media. We really have to enhance our efforts to get out to more students, share our story, and how we plan to help others. Once we do that, our ranks will grow by a lot. One of our growth opportunities is looking at the colleges and seeing a lot of people within the state and helping them find local jobs. We still have some work to do, but we are going to try to utilize all the channels that we possibly can.