SMC PMBA Degree Helps Alumnus Pivot to Competitive Tech Role at UC Berkeley

After working in higher education as an infrastructure team lead dealing with global security for over a decade, Paul Giguere, PMBA, '17, was looking for a change.

Paul Giguere PMBA 17

The journey to Giguere's new role with University of California, Berkeley as a senior technical project manager started with a decision to return to college for his graduate degree. Having been with the Lawrence Livermore National Security Lab since early on in his career as an information technology specialist, Giguere knew that he needed some extra help beyond a simple job search. With the high quality in graduate short-term programs that also worked around his schedule, affordable cost, beautiful campus, and focus on social responsibility and becoming well-rounded  person, Saint Mary's College was high on his list. 

"When I went and toured at Davis in San Ramon, they talked more about the weight of having a Davis degree versus other schools. I didn't care about that. When I went to Saint Mary's, the information I got was along the lines of, 'This is the kind of person you're going to become when you're done with the program.' That was more what I was looking for," said Giguere. 

After getting settled into his program, Giguere headed to the Career Services department, where he received advice on how to proceed with seeking out new work. The staff within SEBA Career services first asked him, "What experience do you want to have next?" Giguere wanted to work at Google. Because of this, he sent them a ton of applications, as he thought was the procedure for getting hired. 

"When you work at the same place for a decade, you kind of lose touch with how to apply for jobs. Learning new job hunt strategies was huge for me," said Giguere.

Back in the beginning of his career, when he was attending University of the Pacific, he was studying to be a record producer. "I didn't go to University of the Pacific to be an IT professional," said Giguere. As he was graduating, the record industry changed dramatically. "There were no jobs in 2005 for record producers. The music industry was collapsing and I had to switch majors quickly," said Giguere.

He switched to a Bachelor of Science in Computer and Information technology, eventually working his way up to a job at the Lawrence Berkeley Labs as a Network and Systems Associate, working towards the end of his time there as an infrastructure team lead. He knew he needed to expand his horizons by changing roles, but there was no where to go where he was working.

While looking Giguere felt stuck due to having ten years of experience working in government and education. This inhibited him from being prime candidate for companies such as Google. While he had the skills to work at places like Pandora, Workday, and Linkedin, along with a positive hey- let's-do-this attitude, nobody was biting.

 "I got an interview at Netflix, and they told me I was overqualified," said Giguere. He started to apply these new job hunting strategies he was learning from SEBA Career Services in his job search. 

"It wasn't 'til I started looking at places that were 90 degrees away from where I working already, but weren't in the same space, that I found my current success," said Giguere. 

A change of values was also in order. "I had been commuting either from San Jose or the East Bay to Livermore every day and I didn't realize how much my quality of life would increase just by being closer to home. I was chasing a certain paycheck and the matching skill set lines on my resume. I wasn't looking at where I would be a good fit and what my experience would be, which is important."

"Now I'm a senior technical project manager within an IT department at UC Berkeley, at the UC Berkeley Extension," said Giguere.

 In order to get the position, he networked with friends at the companies he wanted to work for, reached out to recruiters, as well as  sent out revised resumes. The main difference in resume was to highlight his experience in project management, which was not at the forefront when he started applying for job, even though he did have plenty of experience in that arena. He credits the College and it’s focus on the whole person, not simply the advanced degree, for his current success.