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Young Gun Alum

Daniel Prentice '14

Prentice HeadshotWhile many recent college graduates enter the job market at entry-level positions, few can say their first job out of college involved developing and managing a $100 million municipal budget.

But when a multi-million-dollar financial planning opportunity presented itself soon after graduation, accounting major Daniel Prentice ’14 was determined to rise to the occasion.

“I went in for an accounting technician interview because I thought that it would be a good entry-level job. But during the interview, [the hiring committee] actually decided to put me in for consideration for a budget manager position,” says Prentice.

It may not be your typical fresh-out-of-college job, but that’s because Prentice’s career journey has been anything but. In 2016, after serving a year and a half as budget manager for the Town of Mount Pleasant, he became the chief financial officer and deputy administrator for Dorchester County — the 12th largest county in the state — at the age of 24.

Today he is responsible for the county’s financial planning while overseeing six departments including business services, information technology and human resources.

Having risen through the ranks relatively quickly, Prentice says his strong accounting foundation from the School of Business, his prior public sector experience at the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission and time volunteering with the City of Charleston Police Department enabled him to walk into higher-level roles early in his career.

But as many young professionals in leadership will tell you, being the youngest in charge comes with its fair share of hurdles. Prentice notes his age and experience as barriers that he faced in his current role. However, instead of working to prove himself to others, he chose to put people first. 

“Having direct reports all with significantly longer tenures than mine, it was obviously a challenge,” says Prentice. “I really had to work hard to establish good relationships and prove that I could be trusted.”

According to a survey by CareerBuilder, approximately 38 percent of respondents directly report to someone younger than themselves. To curb generational differences, Prentice encourages young bosses to listen rather than talk. 

“Come in and listen — learn the needs of staff and have an understanding of where the organization has been,” says Prentice. “Spend quality time with all stakeholders and take the time to understand the challenges they have experienced over the years.” Prentice believes these actions not only helped him in his job, but it also allowed him to gain respect as a young CFO. 

As for what’s next for Prentice, he says he is happy in his current role. After all, this is where he originally saw himself being at least 20 years into his career. His focus now is to work on projects that will usher in the next era of Dorchester County under his leadership. 

“I really enjoy working on what impacts my life and the lives around me directly,” says Prentice. “I cannot go a couple of miles without seeing projects that I have worked on. It gives me a sense of pride that I have a place in the community that I get to call home.”

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