Joyce Pegler could have made her senior year at Stevens Institute of Technology so much easier for herself. But taking the easy path has never been her approach, especially as it pertains to her education and career.
The Spring Lake, New Jersey native will graduate in May with a bachelor’s in Business and Technology, as well as a master’s in Information Systems. Last summer, Pegler received a job offer from PwC after completing an internship in the cybersecurity division of PwC’s New York offices.
Most business students would have jumped at the chance to work for one of the “Big Four” accounting firms straight out of college and secure their post-graduate futures before the start of senior year.
But not Pegler, she felt the opportunity just wasn’t a good fit for her.
Pegler’s decision to turn down PwC’s offer wasn’t made lightly. After all, she had been in the company’s pipeline since taking part in its diversity program as a freshman. Plus, she had no other job offer in hand at the time.
Still, she felt confident she would find something that was much better suited for her. She believed her business & technology education at Stevens had prepared her to succeed in any industry, any position, and any company.
“All B&T students are trained to have a business and analytical mindset that gives you the flexibility to move, shift and pivot your career to be something that you want it to be,” she says.
On top of that, she adds, the technology training at the core of a Stevens education can really shine through in job interviews.
“We’re able to show employers that we understand technology, how to use it, and how to integrate systems into companies. Even if we don’t know a specific technology, we’re able to show that we would be able to pick it up pretty quickly because we have this background.”
Pegler’s confidence was also boosted by Stevens’ excellent standing with employers.
“School of Business students have done so well for themselves that companies recruit from Stevens time and time again. They want Stevens students because the Stevens students they currently have are proving their value to their companies,” said Pegler, adding “I remember telling my dad, ‘everyone gets a job, I don’t know anyone who graduated from the school who didn’t get a job.’”
That claim was recently supported by the Class of 2017 Career Outcomes Report, which show nearly 100 percent of School of Business graduates were employed or enrolled in graduate school within six months after commencement.
The Stevens connection, in fact, led Pegler to her eventual employer – Scholastic, the world's largest publisher and distributor of children's books.
At the Fall 2017 Career Fair, a Stevens alumna working at Scholastic introduced Pegler to a hiring manager for the company, putting Pegler on the company's recruitment radar.
A successful on-campus interview was quickly followed by an invitation to the company’s “Super Day,” in which select candidates are brought in for a full day of presentations, lunch and group exercises which serve as interviews.
“That was on a Friday. They called me on the following Monday to say I was getting an offer, which was really nice.”
Pegler didn’t immediately accept the offer to become a business analyst. She still had another job offer to consider – from a company that provided software for banks and credit markets.
The two offers were similar in terms of compensation, but ultimately it came down to the organizational mission, she says.
“Scholastic makes children’s books and helps children read, and that was something I could get behind.”
Focus on advancing women was key
In addition to the mission, the opportunity for growth was especially important to Pegler, who was seeking a long-term relationship with a company.
“Even though it was my first job, ideally, I wanted it to be at a company where I could see myself in for a really long time.”
That goal required asking very targeted questions during job interviews, she says.
“I asked every interviewer, ‘What is XYZ Company doing to advance women in the workplace?’ A lot of companies were caught off guard and some companies answered it very well.”
And some, she observed, suffered from severe gender imbalances.
“It’s not just about parity in the same room, but also at the senior levels. It’s really important to me that women have the opportunity to advance in the same way that men do in the company.”
With Scholastic in her future, Pegler says she is glad she followed her instincts during her job search. She admits she still isn’t quite sure what she wants to do long-term. What she does know is that she has choices.
“When I came to Stevens, I figured the B&T degree would give me enough business expertise to go into any industry. That turned out to be true. You’re not pigeonholed into a career in finance or banking. For me, it was more about how I could help a company whose mission and values I agree with.”