For a college student with little experience in the world of business, career networking with corporate executives can be an intimidating task.
Fortunately, at most companies there is someone willing to take the time to encourage college interns or those seeking an informational interview. At Delta Dental of Rhode Island, that person is Kathryn M. Shanley, the company’s vice president of external affairs.
“Kathryn was always available to give feedback on my work and encouraged me to excel,” said Erin Lawler, a Providence College senior who was an intern last year in Delta Dental’s corporate communications office.
“What’s more, she was willing to offer insight on my educational and career plans from a professional perspective, whether it was suggesting a particular course to take, or giving me tips on approaching the job market after graduation. … She’s a very approachable person, and immediately took an interest not only in my educational and career goals, but also in my personal pursuits.”
Through her 30-year career, Shanley has offered advice and opportunities to many people taking their first steps toward a business career. It’s something she picked up from her father, the late Joseph Shanley, a co-founder of the Providence-based advertising agency Duffy & Shanley. He frequently counseled his children on how to do their best, and she has passed on those lessons to others.
“I’ve always enjoyed helping people who work for me reach their full potential in the workplace,” she said. “I want to see them taking on new challenges, maybe things they didn’t think they could do. For me, the biggest compliment is when someone tells me I made a difference in their professional life.”
Young employees, college students, and even high schoolers have all benefited from her guidance and friendship. She has helped establish internship programs and provides career advice. Her door is always open to young people who request informational interviews. She is, in short, a mentor, and generous with her time and energy.
A graduate of Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass., Shanley began her career at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, where she rose to the position of director of marketing-support services. In 1992, she returned to her native Rhode Island to join the newly independent Delta Dental, the state’s leading dental insurer. As vice president of external affairs, she is involved with corporate communications, public relations and Statehouse lobbying. She is also responsible for corporate-compliance programs and oversees the office of the dental director, program integrity and dental case management.