2/20: From Undergrad to Grad: A Different Perspective from The Marist Poll

Mike Conte has a unique insight into The Marist Poll.  As an undergraduate, the now 23-year-old Conte had a successful tenure at The Marist Poll.  And, while he received his bachelor’s degree in business marketing from Marist College last spring, Conte is back at the Institute, working as a graduate assistant while he pursues his MBA.

Michael Conte

As a high school student, the Connecticut native always envisioned himself sitting in a corner office in a large skyscraper someday.  But, he never thought he would become a political enthusiast.  While Conte acknowledges a mild interest in politics before attending Marist College, he attributes the spark to his time at the Institute.

“I was broke.  Every night I volunteered to work…and a lot was the Obama-McCain [race],” he recalls.

So, why then pursue a job at The Marist Poll?  For Conte, the initial appeal was that near universal factor that unites many college students – money.  But, beyond the financial component, Conte saw an added benefit to The Marist Poll.  It was a way to expand his circle of friends.

“It’s a great place.  There are so many kids who work here from different majors, also, not just one.  So, you really just meet a diversity of different students,” he states.

Additionally, Conte recognized the possibility for advancement at the poll.  Once inside the door, he quickly rose through the ranks at the Institute.  He volunteered for extra shifts, got to know The Marist Poll staff, and soon applied for position of supervisor.  And when he was offered the higher position of Poll Assist instead, a pleasantly surprised Conte, jumped at the chance.  The position, which requires working in the Marist Poll office, allowed him the opportunity to gain knowledge of the inner workings of The Marist Poll.  At the time, the, then, undergrad was working a second on-campus job, but left in order to devote more time to The Marist Poll.  It was a position Conte would hold from sophomore year until he graduated.

But, why return to the Marist Poll after graduation?  For Conte, it was a realization he had before his senior year.  In the summer of 2011, Conte interned at a large retail corporation.  Despite the lucrative financial opportunities such a position would provide, it lacked one very important thing.

“I just realized it was a good life.  It was good money, but it wasn’t what I was personally interested in,” Conte reveals.  “I realized I actually work at a place at school that I’m truly interested in the subject material.”

As for Conte’s professional aspirations after he receives his degree, Conte hopes to find employment in marketing or survey research at a large firm.  Not one to sit by the sidelines, the 23-year-old pictures himself at a company with lots of room for advancement.  And, he believes his time at The Marist Poll has prepared him well for those future endeavors.

“I think just the amount of background that I now have in research itself will definitely help me to be more of an attractive candidate so I won’t just be a resume in a stack,” Conte asserts.  “I will be a resume with real, true life experience in the field I am applying for, and all that experience came from The Marist Poll.”

In the meantime, this graduate assistant is content drawing upon his undergraduate experiences to help advance the goals of the Institute.  Conte says he often acts as an intermediary between the current undergraduate students and the full-time Marist Poll staff.  And, he offers one important piece of advice to those incoming freshman who are just learning about The Marist Poll.

“Just have a good attitude about it and know that you will get out of it what you [put] into it.”