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My name is Brandon J. DeLallo and I am a Project Management Specialist at Northwestern University. I have been employed with the University since June of 2008 and with Project Café since June of 2011. I am currently working on an enterprise level project to launch the “Our Northwestern” Online Community, with the goals of increasing alumni development and social interaction.

I originally entered college out of high school in 1994 where I spent a year at Lake Tahoe Community College, then transferred and did another year at American River (Community) College in Sacramento. I took a break and in 2001, ended up at California State University, Sacramento in the Criminal Justice program. While at CSUS I was an Lambda Alpha Epsilon-Sigma Chi Criminal Justice Society Member and Communications Director. Unfortunately, before completing my degree I moved to Chicago in 2006 to accept a promotion with my employer, Citibank.

When it came time for me to leave the financial services industry in late 2007, I began looking at the local universities and their tuition benefits programs. I felt that without my degree I was missing something essential, not just validation of my abilities and achievements, but validation of the unknown possibilities and untapped capabilities.

I accepted employment with Northwestern University in the Information Technology department, and a year later began taking classes at the School of Continuing Studies. I majored in Political Science, minoring in History. In May of 2012, just prior to graduation, I was accepted into the Alpha Sigma Lambda Honors Society, which was a validation and reinforcement that all my hard work; balancing my job, my wife, my newborn son, plus getting a promotion and three NU Service Excellence Awards.

I accepted my current position with Project Cafe, starting in June of 2011. Interestingly, while organizing some files in the “Project Management” Folder on the server I came across several resumes of those whom had previously interviewed for my position, a position that had been vacant for over a year and a half. To say I was impressed with their qualifications is an understatement as they all had degrees from good schools as well as multiple accreditations via the Project Management Institute or International Institute of Business Analysis.

Feeling truly fortunate to have been chosen over (in my opinion) more qualified candidates got me thinking and I wanted to meet with my director for clarification on his choice. I arranged a meeting with my manager and asked him point blank what he saw in me. I knew I was highly technical, an apt desktop and server support technician, as well as able to resolve numerous software/hardware problems rapidly and effectively. However, with all this technical skill, I had never managed very large scale projects and certainly knew nothing of the PMI or IIBA nor its principles.

What I find most ironic is that my manager clarified why the four-round, ten-member interview group approved my hiring and why I continue to receive accolades; I can communicate and facilitate discussions effectively and get people communicating with one another to clearly articulate project concerns and requirements. I honestly didn’t know I had this skill or that it was even a skill. I knew I was good with people, but the fact my communication skills were considered a driving asset blew me away. Also, the frankness of my manager was refreshing, “Oh I know you weren’t qualified when we hired you, but we knew you could do the job.”

The point is, although you might not be completely cognizant of what skills the job requires, become familiar with what you can bring and sell it. Don’t ever minimize them or downplay those skills and once you learn them, develop them. For years I focused on my technical ability, but equally important was my ability to communicate technical information to non-tech folks in a meaningful way.

About Where The Wildcats Are
University Career Services’ alumni blog series “Where The Wildcats Are” features the career experiences and advice from Northwestern University alumni of all ages and stages. Learn where your fellow Wildcats are post-graduation and how they reached their career goals. Are you a Northwestern alumni interested in sharing your career development process with current students? Email careerservices@northwestern.edu and include “Alum blogger” in the subject line.