By Ed Brennen
It’s a Tuesday morning in early June, and newly minted Manning School of Business
grad David Seybert ’20 is the only person in the office at Thrasio, a quickly growing startup that acquires small, third-party Amazon businesses and integrates them onto its proprietary operating platform.
Seybert joined Thrasio last summer and was promoted to marketing operations manager in March — two months before earning his degree in business administration and just as the COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone to work from home.
Most of the 100-plus employees weren’t scheduled to return to the office in Walpole, Mass., for another week. But, as usual, Seybert wanted to get a jump on things.
“I’m very, very lucky and blessed that I got a job here before graduating,” says Seybert, an Attleboro, Mass., native who completed his bachelor’s degree in just three years. “If I tried to work for this company now, it would be much harder.”
As if graduating early and getting a head start on his career weren’t enough, Seybert has also just self-published his first book, “One Student to Another: 200 Tips to Ensure College Success
In the book, he shares what he learned in his three years at UMass Lowell, where he compiled quite a résumé: a 3.9 GPA; a runner on the Division I cross country and track and field teams; an internship at Schneider Electric; a winning entry
in the Rist DifferenceMaker Institute
competition; and a member of multiple student organizations, including the Student Government Association.
“The opportunities that you have in college can change your life in incredible ways,” says Seybert, whose concentrations were in marketing and international business. “High school is important because it gets you into college, but really it’s the things you do in college that shape your future — the people you meet, the skills you acquire, the experiences you gain.”
“The best way I can help someone else learn is to make them feel like I’m their peer, working with them one-on-one at the same level.”
Seybert took a few minutes to talk about his new book by phone from an otherwise empty Thrasio office.
Q: How did the book come about, and how did you land on 200 tips?A:
The idea came to me after my freshman year, but I didn’t actually put pen to paper until last May, after my second year of school. I feel like most of the tips for college success that you see in books and articles are super general. I wanted to make mine very specific and actionable, as opposed to stuff like, “Be sure to study.” And I wanted to do something outrageous, so I decided to make it 200 tips. I started writing four tips a day, working on them for about two hours each morning before work. I separated the tips into three categories — school, career and personal development. Each tip is two paragraphs of “why” and “how,” followed by a call to action. At the end of the book there are some blank pages with the same structure so people can write down their own tips that they learn.
Q: What kind of actionable tips do you include in your book?A:
One example is to keep your room well lit when studying. It’s a small thing that you might not think of, but it makes a significant difference, especially in the winter when there’s 10 feet of snow outside and you don’t want to go to the library. One of the career tips is to go on company tours. When you know the types of organizations you want to be a part of, connect with an employee on LinkedIn and see if they can help you schedule one. Or see if you can pair up with an HR person and do a tour. I did one at Salesforce and I met some very interesting people.
Q: You say you weren’t a great student in high school. What changed at UML?A:
I wasn’t particularly motivated in high school academically. I took a lot of AP classes but didn’t do well in any of them. But once I got to UML, I figured out what worked for me. Probably the most important thing was the people I surrounded myself with in my first year. That had a very powerful effect on my overall success. Everyone knows deep down the things you have to do in order to be successful in college, but not everyone puts in the consistent effort to do those things.
Q: Your sophomore year, you took eight classes in the fall and nine classes in the spring. Is that something you’d recommend to other students?A:
I don’t recommend taking nine classes. There are other things people should value in college like making connections and doing activities. It worked for me because I was able to multitask and network while in class. I am extroverted and talk to people a lot during a busy day. An introvert would get exhausted being around people that long. So try to keep a balance. But I do encourage students to take on a little bit more than what they think they’re capable of. People don’t push themselves enough.
Q: Were there specific classes you took that helped shape your success?A:
“Professional Communications” with (Asst. Teaching Prof.) Olga Tines
was great. She gave us a lot of valuable insights, like how to make presentations visually appealing and adding speaker notes at the bottom of the slides. That’s especially helpful in group projects. And “New Product and Service Management” with (Asst. Prof.) Denise Dunlap
. That class taught me to save the quality work you do in school to a portfolio, as opposed to just submitting the assignment and forgetting about it. By taking ownership of your work, you say, “I want to do this exceptionally well because I get to keep this and it will be useful in my portfolio for the rest of my career.”
Q: Why should an incoming college student listen to your advice? A:
Mostly because I’ve seen people do it. I’ve seen many people who started college and were in the same situation as me — they didn’t really ever work hard and then they implemented a few of these habits and behaviors and completely changed the outcome of their college career. The book is supposed to be a relatable series of stories and situations that help people to see how they can implement these tips in their lives. The best way I can help someone else learn is to make them feel like I’m their peer, working with them one-on-one at the same level.
Q: Now that you’ve earned your degree and landed a job, what’s next?A:
I have a feeling I’ll miss school pretty soon, so I’ll probably go back for my master’s degree. And I definitely want to write another book someday, specifically for marketing people — once I learn more about marketing. I love writing and I definitely want to keep doing it.