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Nate Desmarais
Graduated: 2001
Major: Human Resource Management
Director of Human Resources, CURE International

Nate DesmaraisChoosing a Major
Nate Desmarais grew up with the dream of owning his own business someday, and he aimed to advance toward that goal with a major in business administration at Messiah.  Soon, however, his interest was piqued by human resource management.  Appreciating the combination of administrative skills and personal interactions that the field offered, Nate decided to change his major.  He elaborates, “Human Resources involves much in the way of planning, implementation and details, but also integrates the need to make decisions that take into account the personal effects that those decisions often have.  It’s a perfect fit for the skills that God has given me.”

The Messiah Experience
Engaging in a variety of extracurricular opportunities in his four years, Nate values the way his involvement contributed to his personal development.  As a first-year student, he was a class senator with the Student Government Association, and he was president of his class both sophomore and senior years.  He also served as a resident assistant for a year, an experience he calls “an incredible opportunity,” and he was involved with the college’s student chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management.  Of his extracurricular involvements Nate says, “Each of them again helped me to refine and utilize my leadership skills.  They also helped me to better understand how to consider the ‘people impact’ in how things are handled.”

Career Center Experience
“I was enrolled in the internship class for two semesters.  As a requirement of my internships, I had to prepare a portfolio.  The portfolio provided me with an opportunity to review my work from the prior semester and better understand my strengths and weaknesses.  Since graduating from Messiah, I have had the opportunity to do a number of workshops for the Career Center regarding resume writing, apartment hunting, and understanding and evaluating employee benefit packages.”

Of the many things Nate gleaned from his experience at Messiah, he believes that the two most important skills he learned are effective writing and critical thinking.  Messiah’s “emphasis on excellent writing skills has served me well, as it taught me how to really write – which I use daily in my position in human resources.”  He adds, “Messiah also taught me how to look at the ‘big picture’. . . At Messiah, I was reminded again and again about how important it is to always consider how one’s (or your company’s) decisions affect those around you.”  Nate applies this idea to the problem-solving he engages in every day:  “I find that if you are willing to listen, calmly and rationally discuss issues, and empower people to influence how decisions impact them, then people will tap into you as a resource again and again.  It is gratifying when you know that employees and managers come to you because they respect and trust you for the value that you add to solving issues that they face on a daily basis.”

What to Do Next
Nate’s first year out of college, as he describes it, “was a little rocky.”  After graduation, he faced a dilemma that troubles many recent graduates:  a job offer he did not really want but with the benefits and stability he could not turn down.  “As could have been predicted,” he explains, “I was very unhappy and left that position to take a position with the company with which I had interned during college.”  After another obstacle – the company restructured, eliminating his position – he finally found a position in human resources.  Although it was entry-level, “it provided me with the foundation I needed,” he says.

Effective networking in college and in the career field has proven beneficial to Nate throughout his career journey.  His college internship provided a connection to the company he ended up working with when he left his first position after graduation.  Networking with his manager at that company opened the door to his next opportunity, and he obtained his current position through a Messiah alumnus who provided his referral.  Clearly, Nate has learned through his experiences that “networking is critical.”


• Don’t jump at the first opportunity to come along.  Just because a job is presented to you does not mean that it is the job for you.
• Critically assess your strengths and ask those around you what they think you’re good at if you’re having trouble identifying strengths on your own.
•Pray about your decisions and make sure that you’re at peace with the decisions you are making.  Put God first in your life and you cannot go wrong.

Dynamic Process
It took Nate some time to click with the right position in his field, but he values his intermediary jobs because they provided him with the foundational skills and experience he needs for the work he does now.  “Although the work seemed mundane and entry level at times,” he explains, “it has helped me train others to do those tasks as I’ve moved on in my career and taken on new challenges.  In addition, it has given me an appreciation for how critical those tasks are to the efficient functioning of the department, although mundane at first glance.”  Nate is now pursuing a master’s degree in his field.

A Typical Day
As Director of Human Resources at CURE International, Nate has a variety of responsibilities but is “primarily involved with employee relations, training, recruitment, benefits, compensation, and special projects.”  He appreciates the way his position incorporates many different facets of human resource management, and his work day is characterized by variety.  Days of high productivity and progress are balanced out by their share of days of “simply putting out fire after fire after fire.”  Ultimately, Nate finds immense gratification in his opportunities to restore relationships: “when I am able to help facilitate resolution to an issue that results in an employee being retained, a relationship between a manager and an employee restored, or some other positive outcome attained.”

A "Why" Moment
Nate views his position as “customer service” to the managers and employees of his company.  “I am reassured that I am in the right place when my customers comment that I provide excellent customer service,” he asserts, adding, “I also know that I am in the right place when I can calmly and rationally diffuse a potentially explosive situation.  However, I also know that it is only by the grace of God that I am able to do so.”

Nate sees his involvement in global missions as an opportunity to share his commitment to service of God and others with his coworkers:  “I am actively involved in doing short-term mission work in Honduras, and this has given me an incredible springboard to introduce the concept of my faith and why I do what I do to others in the workplace.”  He also serves in his church community as a leader of its junior high program, “which has proven to be an incredible experience of helping to facilitate the growth and maturing process of young men in their formative years.”

Dreams Still Dreaming
Nate recently fulfilled one of his primary goals by being promoted to a management position in the field of human resources.  He adds, “I am also actively looking to potentially step out of the field of human resources and into full-time missionary work.  I am praying about these decisions and asking God to show me His ways so that I can join Him where He is working and thereby fulfill the vision that He has for my life.”


Profile by Tiffany DeRewal, October 2006


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