Martino Rabaioli is a Regional Market Director with Cimco Sales and Marketing, a small agency based in Puyallup, WA. He is a PhD candidate in Italian Studies within the UNC Department of Romance Studies, with an expected graduation date of May 2020.
1. Tell us a little more about the work you are currently engaged in. What are your main job responsibilities?
I work in technical consultative sales. I am in charge of keeping business relationships with both vendors and distributors, as well as other kinds of end users (such as municipalities) that might be interested in our products, with the intent of selling and consulting about specific aspects and uses of the lines we represent.
2. Please share a brief overview of your career trajectory. What steps did you take to end up where you are now?
I started this job in August 2019. In Fall 2018 I had begun a more traditional academic career, having found a position as an adjunct instructor of Italian language and culture. That was the second year I had applied to tenure-track academic positions, without success. The adjunct position entailed an incredible amount of work, in conditions far from ideal for a fulfilling career path. Therefore, I decided that I wanted to look outside academia and enter the business world. Through my network I managed to find this position in a solid and quickly growing company, with very bright career prospects, in an engaging and exciting environment where my talents are valued and utilized widely.
3. What professional development resources and programs did you use or participate in while at UNC and how did these benefit you?
I worked closely with University Career Services and the Graduate School’s professional development programs at UNC. I participated in workshops about balancing life and my personal values with the job search and about creating and setting up a LinkedIn profile. And I have helped with organizing talks for graduate students in the Humanities at UNC about job perspectives outside academia. All these opportunities helped me find resources to support myself in starting to look outside the academy for my career path – a prospect that can be daunting to someone, like me, who never really looked outside the university for professional fulfillment. Moreover, I learned the meaning and usefulness of things like informational interviews, networking and resume writing.
4. What steps did you take when you were still a graduate student to prepare yourself for the job market/your industry?
I explored career paths that could potentially be more in tune with my interests, personality and personal values. I studied what transferable skills I had and how to market them. I reached out to people in the business world (alumni of UNC and others) who could give me advice and direction.
5. What skills/competencies did you acquire in graduate school that you apply in your job today or that have helped you progress in your career?
Learning how to conduct during my PhD taught me how to approach a problem and to look for a solution. Now that I work in a field totally unrelated to what I studied, I can see that my doctoral skills of analyzing a problem in-depth, understanding its implications and facets and finding where to dig for a solution, is crucial in the business world as well. Moreover, going through the PhD taught me resilience and great time and project management skills. Strong and well-structured critical thinking is another wonderful skill that I use on a daily basis in my professional and personal life, and which I learned during my training as a PhD student.
6. What advice would you offer current graduate students about professional development in general or career advice for your industry/position specifically?
Start early with brainstorming and exploring different career paths. I wish I had done that! There are so many amazing trajectories and opportunities outside academia, so just focusing on the academic professional options (like the majority of PhD students in the Humanities do) is very restrictive. My advice is: start exploring professional options in your first year of grad school. It is exciting, fulfilling and formative. Of course, this doesn’t mean that PhD students in the Humanities should give up their dream of a tenure-track academic job if that is what they are interested in. Rather, it means setting down the foundations for a strong career after graduation and understanding the breadth of possibilities available in the world.