Landing a job: Accounting alumnus Chris Carey shares his journey

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"Networking is so commonly used, but so uncommonly taken advantage of."

Chris Carey, a 2008 accounting graduate from the Milgard School of Business, is no stranger to the term "networking". Over the last 10 years, Chris has attributed his career success to direct and personal networking.

Today, Chris plays a critical role as the Transition Program Manager for the Northwest Seaport Alliance, the cargo partnership between the ports of Tacoma and Seattle. The Alliance serves as the fourth-largest gateway for cargo shipping between Asia and major distribution ports in the U.S. (including 80% of total trade volume from Alaska). As a facilitator of collaboration amongst port industry professionals, Chris applies his networking and communication skills on a daily basis.

Operations at Northwest Seaport Alliance, photo retrieved from "https://www.nwseaportalliance.com/operations" on 2/26/2018

His career journey was far from conventional, as he's experienced a wide array of positions across multiple industries, from accounting to the US Navy.

At 25 years old, Chris began his academic life at Tacoma Community College. At that time, he had a family of his own to support and was working two jobs to help fund his college tuition. Shortly after graduating, Chris decided to transfer from TCC to UW Tacoma to further his education.

Upon arriving to UW Tacoma, Chris quickly realized this would be the institution that would provide him with the tools needed to kickstart his career. For Chris, it was the passion of the professors in a dedicated, community-based campus that helped him decide on accounting.

Shortly after graduating UW Tacoma, Chris landed a job with KPMG, one of the largest firms in the industry. It was through internal networking at KPMG that Chris realized an opportunity to run accounting operations for a construction firm in the Silverdale area. After years immersed in the accounting world, Chris decided to change his field by becoming an active service member of the United States Navy. After serving his term as an active-duty officer, Chris discovered his current role as the Transition Manager for the Northwest Seaport Alliance. Chris remains a reservist, attributing much of his success in the Seaport Alliance as a result of his Navy experience.

"Networking is so common, yet so uncommonly taken advantage of" Chris stated. Networking is not just about showing up to events but taking full advantage of opportunities to engage with peers, professors, and mentors both on and off campus. He encourages students to not be afraid. Start up a conversation while in line for coffee or go to a campus event and introduce yourself to at least five new people. Often, it's unclear where the most valuable connection will appear.

A candid photo of Chris on location at Northwest Seaport Alliance

Chris emphasized that finding a job you love is often based on experiencing things you may not have the same passion for. You won't know what the best fit is until you have a sense of what isn't. Build the path to a successful career by expanding your network and taking advantage of offered resources.

Stay updated at tacoma.uw.edu/milgard and follow @MilgardUWT for upcoming networking events!

Written by: 
Shane Benoit, Trevor Nhan / February 14, 2018
Media contact: 

Shane Benoit