Building Alumni-Student Connections in Business
A degree from Trinity College, military service, and an entrepreneurial drive have all fueled the ambition of Jason Ray ’08. Eleven years after graduating from Trinity, he is co-founder and CEO of Paperless Parts, a Boston-based startup that produces manufacturing software to streamline the customer service process. Ray has grown the business by recruiting high-performing staff members through a robust internship and hiring initiative that includes Trinity students and graduates. Bantams representing four class years work in the company, both as interns and full-time employees.
“We’re pulling in students who are incredible—and highly trained in physics and engineering,” said Ray. “I specifically like Trinity grads because they are personable and can interact in a business setting professionally.”
As an undergraduate at Trinity, Ray majored in economics and history, was a member of the wrestling team, and was involved in the Psi U fraternity. He depended on financial aid and noted that he would not have been able to attend Trinity without it. Between his junior and senior years, he interned under Trinity alumni Andy Merrill ’85 and Tripp Kyle ’06 at financial public relations firm Finsbury, where he gained experience working in a fast-paced professional environment. By bringing Bantams into his own business, Ray said that he enjoys having the opportunity to pay it forward. “Those guys gave me a chance, and now I can give Trinity students a chance,” he said.
Graduating from Trinity in 2008 during a dramatic economic downturn meant that Ray had to rethink his career path. “To graduate with an economics degree, we all thought we’d go to school, then to Wall Street,” he said. After considering his options, Ray applied for and was accepted into naval officer candidate training school. It was in the military that Ray developed an interest and appreciation for manufacturing’s role in the national economy. “When I got out of the military, I had finished an MBA at Babson and learned a ton about the lack of modern software tools in this custom parts manufacturing,” he said. He also saw highly skilled machinists spend an inordinate amount of time working on price quotes and other customer relations issues, instead of their areas of specialization. To address this need, Ray launched Paperless Parts. Now in its third year, the company addresses the gap Ray saw in the manufacturing market.
As his company grew, Ray needed talent to help keep up with the blossoming business. Fortunately, he knew where to look. Through his Trinity contacts, he connected with Dana Wensberg ’18, then a junior physics and engineering major. Wensberg’s internship at Paperless Parts spanned his junior and senior years at Trinity, and he remains passionate about the opportunity. “My internship with Paperless was incredible,” Wensberg said. “I was given the opportunity and the tools to make an immediate impact. Since coming on, my personal growth has been immense, both in my technical abilities and business acumen. I am so proud of what I have accomplished here, and I cannot wait to share this experience with more Trinity alumni.” He eventually joined the company as a full-time employee and now is a computational geometry software engineer.
This began a pattern of employing Trinity interns and hiring them to join the startup. Since Wensberg came on board, Ray has formalized the process. “Part of their job offer is contingent on bringing back at least two interns who are at the top of their class,” Ray said. Since then, Ray has built a staff full of young talent, with significant representation from Trinity. The caliber of Trinity’s students is key for Ray, particularly given the specialized nature of his business. “Trinity students have a tenacity to educate themselves on the industry and become assets to the company,” Ray added.
Ray’s initiative at Paperless Parts represents just one of the ways in which Trinity alumni support students as they enter the professional world. Alumni and students can make new connections on the Bantam Career Network, an online mentoring and networking platform, by clicking here.
Ray said that he hopes others in the alumni network will develop similar hiring initiatives and commitments to bring Trinity students and alumni into their workforce. “I think there’s something we can do as alumni to tie people in the Trinity community together,” he said. “This is how I start giving back.”
Written by Tess Dudek-Rolon