When Axay Patel immigrated with his family from India to Connecticut at the age of 22, he says attending Naugatuck Valley Community College was “a perfect way to start,” even though he was close to earning a bachelor’s degree in his homeland.
Already having experience in accounting and waiting for his college credits to transfer from India, Patel made the decision to begin taking classes at NVCC. “I applied and I got accepted and started my associate degree.” He says the transition was challenging at first, but he persevered through hard work, asking a lot of questions and getting help from friends.
During his time at NVCC, Patel was a senator with the Student Government Association and secretary of the Accounting, Legal and Finance Club—and participating in those activities helped him with his studies and to forge bonds in the campus community. He also points out that extracurricular activities can make a candidate stand out to potential employers.
In 2012, Patel graduated from NVCC with a degree in accounting and continued on to Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, where, in 2014, he earned his bachelor’s degree—also in accounting. Though he initially wanted to start earning a four-year degree immediately, Patel says he’s happy he decided to start at a community college where he could tackle general educational requirements and core courses in his major first. “I saved a lot of money actually, doing an associate degree first. It makes a lot of sense.”
After working at a bank, Patel recently began a new chapter in his career with a job at IBM, where he’s a tax analyst. Patel says friends found a path to a job at the company by interning there during college. While he did not have that advantage, he says extracurricular activities during his time at NVCC and WCSU helped to make the difference with hiring managers.
One of his mentors at NVCC agrees. “Axay was a most inquiring student who also effectively networked with his peers through our Accounting, Legal and Finance Club as an active member and officer,” says Accounting Professor Scott R. Colvin. “I am confident he leveraged this skills set in landing his position with a most prestigious Fortune 100 corporation like IBM.”
What advice does Patel offer to other students? “Just work hard and don’t give up.”