From the recruit to the recruiter- JMU alumna, Prissie Nguyen, offers advice and insight for students as they prepare to embark on the recruiting process in efforts to transition from college to the working world.
Prissie Nguyen, ’94 JMU grad, majored in Computer Information Systems. Originally from Saigon, Vietnam, Prissie grew up in Chesapeake, VA and is currently an IT Recruiter & Marketing Coordinator for CapTech in Richmond,VA.
Prissie currently works with a team of 5 recruiters to source and hire top IT talent as full-time consultants for CapTech. Networking, which is a large part of her job now, was how she was able to obtain her current role. Prissie worked with Kevin McQueen, while at Capital One as a Business Systems Analyst, and he reached out to her to see if she’d be interested in coming to work for CapTech. Because of their focus on work / life balance for their employees, CapTech allowed her to work in a part time capacity and says that’s how she “fell” into the Recruiting role.
We asked Prissie about her experiences as an undergraduate student and the advice she can give. She knows how it feels to be in the shoes of the student, but now she has the perspective from the other side. Here is the insight Prissie had to share:
As an undergraduate student at James Madison University, what did you do to become more engaged on campus?
“I joined the cheerleading squad my Freshman year so I was instantly engaged with Athletics at JMU! I cheered for both basketball and football on the JV squad that year and then moved up to Varsity my Sophomore and Junior years. I also joined a sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha, my sophomore year which helped me engage socially and within the community. I also worked part-time all four years at JMU; first within the Dean’s office at the College of Business and then in the computer labs throughout campus. This gave me a chance to not only support myself through school but to also gain valuable experience that helped me to find a job once I graduated.”
How did your engagement help lead to success in your personal and professional life?
“Cheerleading definitely helped me to stay physically active and fit and also taught me teamwork and perseverance. Having to juggle practices, games, and classes really helped me to prioritize and stay organized in order to keep up my grades. This has definitely helped me to continue to do things like run marathons and to be able to balance family and a career. Joining ZTA really helped me to engage socially and build lifetime bonds and relationships with my fellow sisters. The philanthropic work that we did with Susan G. Komen and other organizations allowed me to give back to the community I loved so much. Being a refugee, my family greatly benefited from the kindness of others when we arrived so I wanted to make sure to show that same kindness to whomever may need it. To take it a step even further, my husband, Brad Showalter (also a JMU alum!) and I joined the Peace Corps shortly after we graduated and spent two years in Papua New Guinea. Upon returning, I continued to volunteer for Ten Thousand Villages and other non-profit groups such as Habitat for Humanity and Freedom House while working full-time at Capital One. Because I truly had achieved the “American Dream” with work, marriage, running and volunteering, I was thrilled to find out that I was nominated and chosen to carry the Olympic Torch for the Salt Lake City Winter Games in 2002. It was such an honor and a very humbling experience! Working in the Dean’s office and Computer Labs helped me gain the valuable technical experience I needed to find an IT position upon graduation and to continue to succeed in my career first as a Developer and now as an IT recruiter. The customer service experience I gained by helping students with their computer issues still applies now when I am helping managers find the right talent they need for our organization or helping candidates throughout our recruiting process.”
From your perspective as a recruiter what insight can you give on best practices and areas to highlight?
“Internships and work experience in your field or area of interest are the first things I look for as a recruiter. Knowing that the student is motivated enough to seek out work in their major is very impressive. Also, keeping your resume very simple, clear and concise while highlighting your technical skills and strengths are very important.
Do not assume that course work or team projects are enough to land your perfect job. Also, do not ever give up on your dreams or worry about failure. Those who fail are only the ones who never try.”
How can students make the best first impression when beginning a new position after graduation?
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions and volunteer for roles or assignments. Be confident but not pushy and try to get as immersed in the culture and company as much as possible. Take advantage of mentors or peers who can help you navigate processes or answer any questions you may have.”
What is the most valuable lesson you learned throughout your transition to becoming a professional?
“The importance of listening, understanding, and working with others to achieve the common goals for yourself, your team, and the company.”
What is one piece of advice you wish you could go back and tell your 20 year-old self?
“Be more confident and believe in yourself!”
As we prepare for another great recruiting season at JMU, be on the lookout for more spotlights on JMU alumni.