Student Success Story - How Ashley Hilfman '18 leveraged student employment and found a gateway into her dream career
As a freshman, Ashley Hilfman '18 was unsure of her career path but knew she loved helping and inspiring others. Once she starting working part-time on campus, the experience she gained as a student employee ended up being her gateway into her dream career.
"My student employment experience may have been my most impactful experience for my professional development throughout college," Hilfman said. "Not only did it teach me a new level of accountability, but it also taught me self-advocacy both as an employee and in my own career development."
Hilfman, now a People Advisory Consultant at Ernst & Young (EY), graduated from Binghamton University with a bachelor of science in business administration. During her time at Binghamton, she worked as a senior peer assistant at the Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development, the University's centralized career center.
As a senior peer assistant, Hilfman assisted students with concerns regarding job and internship searches and career options. She also conducted resume and cover letter critiques for undergraduate students. Hilfman said her student employment experience showed her what she was capable of in a professional setting, even while pursuing her degree.
"This was an incredible opportunity for me - navigating the challenging financial circumstances of pursuing a college education while requiring the flexibility to keep my educational performance my priority," Hilfman said. "It was an environment where I was encouraged to contribute my ideas to the center, which helped me gain a new sense of confidence that I had valuable ideas to bring to the table, regardless of my age or seniority in the role."
Hilfman's student employment experience allowed her to find the confidence necessary to support her own career development and gain a deeper understanding of her strengths to narrow down her career options. After attending an EY event during her freshman year, Hilfman was drawn to the organization but was unsure if she would have a place there without an accounting degree.
"Through my student employment experience in the Fleishman Center, I was exposed to the power of conducting personal research and networking to explore your career interests," Hilfman said. "I began to explore my passion for the 'people' side of business by networking with Binghamton alumni in various sectors of consulting and HR and learned of human capital consulting- a field I had never considered!"
Between her junior and senior year, Hilfman was hired as a People Advisory Intern as EY, a role that turned into a full-time position after her graduation in 2018. As the first People Advisory Consultant to be hired from Binghamton University, Hilfman works on a team that travels to different organizations across the country and offers them support through services designed to lead companies through complex organization transactions, transformations and, global workforce and mobile talent challenges.
Since she has always loved communicating with others, as shown in her involvement with the Fleishman Center, Hilfman said that she is excited that now, her career allows her to help others on a daily basis.
"I am most passionate about helping people find fulfillment," Hilfman said. "There is no greater feeling to me than helping a friend navigate through a challenge, supporting people to find the career that they are passionate about, or helping a person get access to something they need."
Hilfman now has a strong Ernst & Young network that provides her with support as she navigates obstacles, similar to the network she built through her job at Fleishman Center.
"Every day I have learned something new and I am surrounded by fantastic teammates who take a genuine interest in understanding my strengths and goals and do everything they can to help me grow as a professional," Hilfman said. "There have been countless things I didn't 'know,' but I learned early on from my team as long as you display a positive attitude, strong work ethic, and resourcefulness, any challenge will be a growth opportunity."
Hilfman said that she hopes other students can find success through their student employment experiences and similar opportunities that she was provided with across campus.
"My experience taught me career development will be a lifelong goal and helped me get excited about that," Hilfman said. "It showed me that incredible opportunities can come when you're least expecting them."