Alumni in 5 Spotlights
Benjamin Parsell '19
1. Tell us about your journey since graduation.
Even prior to graduating, I had been interning throughout my senior year at OST, which is a local Digital Consultancy specializing in software development, design, strategy, and an abundance of other services. I joined full-time after graduation as a Developer, and have worked up to a Consultant where I now lead clients through a transformation within the Digital Commerce space - we get to investigate and build out how customers buy online, supporting the entire process involved there. I couldn't be happier - it's the perfect combination of technical and entrepreneurial work. For about a year, I was mostly focused on my career and ultimately realized how much I missed that connection to GVSU. Realizing that, I ended up applying and becoming part of the Young Alumni Council here at GVSU.
2. Share a favorite Grand Valley memory.
During my Junior year, GVSU sent me and three other students to travel out to Palo Alto, CA for a meetup through the University Innovation Fellows. We had a 3-4 day design conference where we dove into design challenges, helped envision ideas for non-profit companies, and ultimately got to experience the Google and Stanford (d.school) campuses. I still look back on that as a pivotal moment where I recognized the ability that GVSU has to show students the potential they have, and I'll never forget that experience.
3. What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
When I was 17, I was down in West Virginia for a week doing construction work through a non-profit where we were working directly on a family's home. That family had a 5-year-old boy, who I remember asking me "Why are you always smiling?" Although not your traditional form of advice, I took that to heart in the sense that being able to smile and carry joy through the work you do every day might make someone else's day better. I try to go into each interaction with a smile on my face, and I ultimately hope I might be remembered someday for that trait.
4. List three words you would use to describe your Grand
Opportunity, Entrepreneurship, Joy
5. What difference would you like to make in the world?
My ultimate dream job would be to do philanthropy work full-time. I have such a deep admiration for and interest in the Appalachian region. The Appalachians are filled with both wonderful people and families, but also so much pain, poverty, and desire for change. Given that, I'd love to eventually have a platform where I'm able to support that region and create change through community development work. I see so much value in being able to influence creating new opportunities for people through tech, or whatever other industries I may dip my toes into during my career. Overall, my biggest passion in life is people, and if I can help them with my entrepreneurial drive, curiosity, and empathetic approach to life, I owe that to them.