Fall 2023 – Salary and Benefits Panel

Recently the CPDC, in collaboration with Human Resource Management Program Chair Kim Krumsiek, hosted a panel for students to learn more about salary, benefits and how to negotiate their best starting deal.

The panel of speakers consisted of Nichols Alumni:

  • Jennifer Carabba ’03 – Vice President and Employee Relations Manager at Middlesex Savings Bank
  • Ryan Fasold ’03 – Senior Vice President, Employee Health and Benefits at March and McLennan Agency
  • Nancy Gervais ’98 – Associate Director of Talent Acquisition and Human Resources at Berklee College of Music

The panelist shared some very insightful information with those who attended the event which is summarized below.


How should a student handle salary questions if they come up before an interview?

  • Be honest about what you are looking for but also be realistic.
    • Do your research on what the average starting salary is for someone in that type of position.
    • If you are filling out an application and you are required to put in an expected salary, do not leave it blank! Some recruiters will stop looking at an application if nothing is filled in for that.

Is it okay to change your desired salary in an interview from what you had on your application?

  • Yes, this is okay. As you learn more about the job, you will understand the role and responsibilities more, which may not have been something that was considered in your earlier salary estimate written on the application.

Can fresh college graduates negotiate a salary?

  • Yes, BUT you need to be able to explain WHY you deserve a higher salary than what you are being offered. Share something that isn’t on your resume that is going to show the added value that you are going to bring to the company.

How should you approach salary negotiation?

  • This is something that can be brought up with the recruiter/talent acquisition manager.
  • Do your market research and use real world examples rather than comparing your salary to what someone like your friend is making.
  • Salary ranges can be extremely broad and ranges posted by third party websites are not always accurate

When is it appropriate to ask for a first raise?

  • It really depends on the organization you are working for. Find out how often they do performance reviews, it is best to wait until that time comes around.
  • If your role gets added job responsibilities, that can be cause for then having a conversation about a raise.


What are the top benefits from most employers?

  • Medical insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, long-term disability
  • Companies also have other voluntary benefits that employees can choose to enroll in.
  • Other unique benefits: loan forgiveness, subsidizing commutes, tuition reimbursement


  • As recent graduates, if you are already on your parents’ health insurance, you can stay on it until you are 26 years old; once you are 26 you will need to enroll in a medical plan.
  • Some companies will compensate employees who are not enrolled in their insurance plan because you are technically saving the company money.

Retirement Plans – DO IT!

  • 401K and 403B are types of retirement plans
  • This is going to help set you up for your future
  • Many employers will match a percentage of what an employee puts into their retirement account. Take advantage of this, it’s free money!!


  • You don’t need to accept the offer right on the spot, it’s okay to take the time to think it through.
  • If you need to ask for more time to consider that offer, give a specific day or time frame that you have your decision made by.
  • If you have received multiple offers:
    • Look at each compensation package and see which one will be a better fit for you
    • Compare the environments, which one will you be able to thrive the most in?
    • Ask what the trajectory of the position is. Is there room for growth?


  • Use the great network that you have from Nichols College to your advantage. There are many successful faculty/staff and alumni that would be more than willing to help you.
  • Use your resources, go to the CPDC!
By Mandy Laporte
Mandy Laporte Career Specialist, Employer Relations and Coaching