Todd DeVoe: Hey, welcome to EM student and this is your host, Todd DeVoe speaking, and today this is an exciting day for me or actually at the headquarters of the Titan HST App who is actually one of the sponsors for EM Weekly and I have with me today and with you guys obviously is the CEO of Titan HST Vic, Vic, why don’t you go in? Introduce yourself.
Vic Merjanian: Hi, thank you for having me on today. My name is Vic and I’m the founder and CEO of Titan HST and we’re an emergency communication two-way mass notification system and we believe in the power of people basically connecting people who need help with people who can help.
Todd DeVoe: So Vic, obviously with the student podcast, one of the things that we really want to do is teach our students on how to move to the next step. So these guys are all going through college right now. They’re getting their degrees, bachelor’s degrees or master’s degrees, maybe even a PhD out there in emergency management, but I really want to focus on those that haven’t really gone into the workforce yet. How do you get your first job in like say emergency management or even like outside because I want them to think outside the box a little bit here because everybody always thinks about going working for the government or whatever, but there are opportunities for emergency managers in companies like yours. How would they do this?
Vic Merjanian: Absolutely. So I think the biggest thing that employers, ourselves included, are always looking for are people who can create synergy and people who can create more than the sum of their parts. There’s a lot of people who can execute tasks, you know, whether it’s checking off a box, creating spreadsheets, something like that, but it’s the person who can go and meet people and then take an idea on emergency communication and combined them in a way that creates a greater synergy as some that’s larger than its parts and impact. That is profound. That’s what we look for and that’s really, I think how to make the best impact and the best opportunity to find a job both in the private sector or in the government sector.
Todd DeVoe: So as a student, you know, graduated high school, really not a lot of job experience. Maybe you’ve worked fast food or retail or something like that. How do you parlay that information that you’ve done in the past to your first, and I hate to say it this way, but your first real job, your first as one of my students one time told me, Oh, I got my first big boy job. I didn’t get that.
Vic Merjanian: You know, here’s what I’ll say. The biggest thing that employers look for, his hunger. I get so many people who apply who don’t have necessarily the most relevant background, but we always say in the office, you can teach anyone skills. You cannot teach them hungry. So if you’ve got that hunger and that ambition and it can look in different ways, right? Some people it looks like we posted a job on the internet and so on, stops by the office just to drop off their resume and put a name to the face. We remember that. That’s a lot of hunger. You know, or you remember someone who has come in for an interview and they happened to be the person who’s read every nook and cranny of your website. Well, it doesn’t matter what they were doing before, right? I mean that’s something that’s completely self-contained. Not anyone can do, but it shows a level of hunger that makes us want to invest in that employee and then when the employer invests in that employee, that employee will continue to thrive and that’s how you create a sum that’s larger than the parts.
Todd DeVoe: Do you think it’s important for your potential employee who again is coming from the college to have done say internships elsewhere? Or is it you prefer them to come kind of to you raw?
Vic Merjanian: You know, it’s a great question and people ask us all the time, what is the perfect candidate look like? And the answer is there really isn’t someone necessarily. We have people who have had internships and that’s been great and they bring a skill set that comes from that internship. On the flip side, if they’ve had a few internships, they tend to also be perhaps more set in their ways and think that this is how things are done. So I really think there’s… you know, the moral of this story is there’s no right answer. It’s we’re hiring for hunger, for abilities and for basically someone wants to get out there and make a difference because the person who wants to do that, we’ll find a way to make a difference and that will help people and it’ll help the company.
Todd DeVoe: How does that a potential applicant separate themselves from everybody else.
Vic Merjanian: You know, the funny thing is, as much as everyone thinks that they’re different, their resumes tend to really read the same. You’ve got some level of experience that may or may not be relevant. You’ve got some level of education that may or may not be relevant, and those all kind of bleed the same. The things that really stand out are when we see something that nobody else has and that always comes down, at least as far as resumes are concerned to application. We see so many people who have done school and so many people who’ve done internships or this or that or whatever. Very few people have anything that shows that they’ve taken what they’ve learned or the opportunities they’ve had and they’ve applied them. Let me give you some real examples of that that we’ve seen. There were some people who had taken some business classes in high school and also an Undergrad that taken business classes and then what they did is they went to schools where at the end of the year, supplies were thrown out every year. They collected all the supplies and then they donated them to other schools, so without having to raise money to buy new supplies. They took pencils that were nine-tenths, not used, you know, and they were able to donate tens of thousands of dollars of these supplies to other less fortunate areas. Now this is something that’s not particularly directly related to what Titan does, but it showed us that this is a person who’s taken business skill found a resource converted that asset into something more valuable for different market or group. And again, it’s not about. They didn’t make money off it, but they created something again that to some larger than its parts. That’s the kind of thing that stands out because it shows creativity. It shows a drive. I mean, anyone can add, you know, we joke just moments ago that Siri can add, right? But that creative thinking, that analytical thinking, that drive, it’s something that the computers can’t do and that’s really, that’s, that stands out.
Todd DeVoe: So during the interview process, and I’ve been on both sides of the table obviously, and I remember one time we were interviewing somebody for different city. I was on the panel and we asked the question, do you think you’re the best candidate for the job? And the applicant says I might not be the best candidate for the job. And like right there, I was like, know she’s off my off my list. Number one, how do you prepare yourself for that interview and not have that big mistake? And number two, if you do make a mistake in the interview, what do you think they can do to make up for that?
Vic Merjanian: You know, this is something that uh, people ask us from time to time, especially at the end of their internships when, when we have those people ask us, well, you know, Devin, you advice or this or that, and I’ll tell you, it’s very, very rare in interviews are like airplanes at any given time. There’s probably a bunch of stuff that’s not going that great in there, but it takes a whole lot of things going really wrong to sink it. So you’d have to make, you know, obviously, if someone, if the cabin door flies open, you’ve got a problem in mid-flight, you know. And so, you know, if somebody comes in and they say something really horrible, probably uh, you know, maybe move on to the next day. But in general, it’s not about any one particular answer or anything like that. I feel like when we’re hiring and, and when I talked to other people who are hiring to, it’s more ambiguous, It’s the energy that we feel, you know, if we didn’t generally, like what was their objectives on the resume, you wouldn’t be in here for the interview. And so when you’re there for the interview, it’s really about selling the personality, the energy, just kind of the fit because as much as it’s a business, it’s also you’re going to be spending more time with these people in your family. Do you want to be around them? Will they make you a better person? Will they drive the business? And that’s the kind of stuff that should relieve a little bit of that pressure. It’s not about the black and white, this fact versus that fact. We already know generally who you were about once we’ve seen the resume.
Todd DeVoe: Yeah, you’re absolutely right there. A lot of my students will ask me like what organizations could they volunteer with that gets them a better opportunity to get in front of, you know, to get for their resume to pass the muster. Right. And I always tell them, I said, you know, it doesn’t make a difference what volunteer organization that you go to, whether it’s Team Rubicon or the American Red Cross or salvation army or, or the know Baptist charities or Catholic charities for disaster response. Any of those that there’s skills that you get to learn from all those charities and so that being said, no matter where you go and kind of goes back to your point, even if you’re working at, you know, Johnny’s fast food restaurant, there are skills that you can learn there that you can parlay into emergency management and I think that’s really important for people to understand. So for those students out there that are working in retail, make sure you put that on your resume.
Vic Merjanian: I mean, there’s so many options, right? Because you think about things and especially in the world of emergency management, you have to be creative and think fast, but there’s always new problems that are coming out. One of the things that, it’s kind of funny when we’re interviewing people, people come in and say, I’ve done this, I’ve done that, I’ve done this. You know what I mean? To be totally frank, if you’re coming out of Undergrad, you don’t have the skills you need to fully do what, what is needed. You’re going to have to learn on the job. And so the question is, what have you done? So let’s go back to this fast food example that’s come up several times now. Right? Okay. So you’re in fast food. Is flipping hamburgers or stuffing French fries directly related to EM? Probably not. However, what if you were there and you were saying While I was here, I saw that there was a tendency for people to come out with wet hands out of the bathroom and there was always drips of water and in high traffic areas or on busy days, those little chips turned into little slick puddle areas and I thought someone would fall. So what I did is I recommended that we put some paper towels closer to the door or I recommended putting a mat down on the floor. I would hire that person in an instant because it’s not about whether or not they were flipping hamburgers or stuffing fries. I said this person identified a problem, took initiative, created a solution and implemented it. And that’s what would blow me away.
Todd DeVoe: Yeah, no, I’m right there with you. You know, same thing with the idea of, of a supply chain. And waste reduction. Oh, absolutely. If you can talk about how the supply chain works for you and waste reduction, that’s key into going. Oh, you’re thinking long term.
Vic Merjanian: Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s that thought process. That’s so critical. that’s what we want.
Todd DeVoe: Yeah. No, I agree with you 100 percent on that because yeah. I mean, like I said, you know, you’re 16, 17 years old, you’re not working.
Vic Merjanian: Oh yeah. You’re not going to impress us with any. I mean, unless you’re the 16-year-old who built the NASA or work for Elon Musk. Good. It’s like, oh, I actually built the rocket booster nights. Say, oh wow. You know, other than that, you know, you don’t have the full skill set. So it’s, are you organized? Do you know how to gather data? Can you put information together in a way that’s communicated well? Are you creative? Are you hungry? That’s what we’re looking for.
Todd DeVoe: So for somebody who’s entering into school and one of the questions that’s always asked to me is, what degree program should I get into? And you know, obviously if you really know that you want to be an emergency manager, there’s that degree program and there was criminal justice system, there’s public administration, there’s all that kind of stuff. And oddly enough, one of the programs I always recommend kids getting into it would be public administration because I think it’s a really well-rounded degree. Gets you a lot of different um, ideas. Are you looking for specific degrees? Were for people to come into or what are you looking for in their degree application?
Vic Merjanian: I look for a degree that requires them to assimilate data, research data and presented in a way that makes sense. So if you were a history major and you know, it was something where it was all multiple choice, probably not impressed, but if you tell me that you went out and researched, you know, some, I don’t know, Florentine period and found this or that, I mean, whatever, right? Then I’d say, Oh wow, that that’s a skill set we can use. So it’s not so much the degree per se, but what did you do in that degree that shows the key features? We’re looking for are the ability to gather data, analyze the data, and then present the data in a way that makes sense because that’s basically what the skill set is at the end of the day. And I don’t care what the data was, which is why I don’t care what the degree is. But did you do that in that degree,
Todd DeVoe: Right? Yeah. No, you’re right. It’s sort of important and I think that’s one of the reasons why I like public administration so much because you have to do a lot of
Vic Merjanian: hits on those topics perfectly. Represents an easy way to kind of make sure you’ve checked all those boxes. Absolutely.
Todd DeVoe: You know, one of the, one of the advices I always give students that are, especially those that are wanting to go into law enforcement or fire and they were like, oh, I’m taking fire science or I’m taking criminal justice and I’m like, those are fine degrees. You know, there’s some stuff you can get out of those two degrees I said, but it Kinda, it Kinda can pigeonholed you into just those fields and if you get hurt on the job, can you do something different and, and so if you can parlay that, and I always, I like this… one of my favorite words, parley . If you can parley that into like you said, showing that if you’re going through a fire administration class that you actually did research on, you know, well, what is the best system to use and why it’s the best system to use and get the analytical data based upon that. That’s something that you can kind of parlay. Yeah. Cool. All right, well we’re getting close here to end of the interview here. So like again, is there, if there’s any one piece of advice that you could tell a graduating college student, what would it be?
Vic Merjanian: Be Hungry and meet as many people as you can and find a way to weave your hunger with people and that together we’ll create a synergy that any employer will be absolutely ecstatic to have onboard.
Todd DeVoe: Well, Vic Thanks so much for your time and thank you for sharing your success with the students that are out there. And maybe, uh, you know, maybe one of you guys out there might work for Vic one day and it’s Titan HST.
Vic Merjanian: Always looking for great people.
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