As a high jumper on the UML women’s track and field team, junior Danielle Poublon literally sets a high bar for herself. If she happens to knock it down on an attempt, she resets the bar and tries again. The same holds true for Poublon outside of the athletic arena.
Of the 12 co-op positions for which the business administration major from Nashua, N.H., interviewed in her sophomore year, Poublon had her sights set on Kronos.
Then came the big interview.
“It was awful. A total train wreck. I don’t blame them for not hiring me,” says Poublon, who responded in the only way she knows how – by resetting the bar and trying again. “I have to work at this,” she told herself.
Then Jim McGonigle, assistant director of professional co-ops for the Manning School of Business, told Poublon about a six-month operations management co-op at Raytheon in Andover.
Poublon, whose concentrations are in marketing and management, wasn’t familiar with operations management. However, she did some research, talked to Raytheon reps at the Spring Career Fair and landed an interview.
This time, she cleared the bar and was hired as an integrated product team lead for the defense and electronics giant (where, coincidentally, her great-grandfather once worked).
“I couldn’t have asked for a better experience,” says Poublon, who served as the go-between for project managers and the factory floor to ensure the timely delivery of $70 million in contracted integrated defense systems.
After a “hectic” first month of learning processes and acronyms, Poublon was surprised when her supervisor asked her to begin leading weekly status update meetings with company directors.
“They threw me in the deep end, and I loved that. It’s the only way I was going to learn,” says Poublon, who credits her professional communications course for helping prepare her for the challenge. “The experience gave me a lot of confidence in the work that I do and my abilities as a professional.”
While Poublon put her studies on pause during the co-op, she still had track and field practices to attend. So for seven months, from June to January, she went to work at 5:30 a.m., left at 3:15 in the afternoon for practice until 6:30, then returned home for dinner and bed at 8 p.m.
“At one point toward the end of the year, I didn’t see the light of day,” Poublon says. “I’d see the sun on the weekend, which was odd.”
Poublon’s discipline is paying off. At the ECAC/IC4A Indoor Championships this winter, she finished third in the high jump with a personal-best of 5 feet, 8 inches. At the America East Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships, she finished second in her other event, the pentathlon.
“She has become a more well-rounded athlete,” says head coach Gary Gardner, who awarded Poublon an athletic scholarship based on her first-year performance with the team. “She has gotten better each year.”
“I’m glad to be part of such a great group,” says Poublon, who volunteered to compete in the pentathlon as a sophomore to help her team earn more points in meets. “My coaches and teammates are so supportive.”
After such a positive experience at Raytheon (where she even got to see products loaded onto a jumbo cargo jet to be shipped overseas), Poublon is setting her sights on another co-op or internship, this time more in the marketing realm. That includes another try at Kronos.
“You’re only in college once,” Poublon says. “I’ll gladly push out school an extra semester for another co-op. You can’t get that kind of experience and make those kind of connections in the classroom.”