CASA – a home away from home

October 5th, 2016 by msweeney

By Patricia Nwobodo

Although I’m a thousand miles away from home, I’m never more than a couple steps away from home. Literally.

As a Caribbean or African student living in a foreign country, there are bound to be times when you feel homesick, whether it is simply missing your traditional food or just from missing the comfort of being in a familiar environment with people who are just like you.

Being from Nigeria and attending boarding school in Massachusetts, I’ve been away from home for a long time; so trust me when I say that just like you, I understood the struggle of just wanting to be home once in awhile – that is until I came to Holy Cross. I remember the first time I visited Holy Cross. I walked into the Hogan Ballroom and right in the middle were a couple of girls next to a table with a large sign that read Caribbean African Student Alliance (CASA). They yelled enthusiastically, while waving their hands and motioning for my brother and I to come over and visit their table – and we did just that.

CASA is holding our fourth annual Head-To-Toe Expo, âCaribbean Meets Africa.â This event is about educating the Holy Cross Community about the beauty and strengths of the African and Caribbean culture through art, clothing, and food. Please come and enjoy the celebrated event on campus. Sponsored by C.A.S.A. (Caribbean African Student Assemblage)

A few months later, I found myself in that very ballroom again, writing down my name on a sheet of paper that read CASA; I was now officially a member of the Caribbean African Student Alliance. Little did I know that such a small gesture would make all the difference for my time here at Holy Cross.

The Caribbean African Student Alliance, also known as CASA, is Holy Cross’s student organization targeting Caribbean and African students at the college. Other students not from the Caribbean or Africa are also welcome to join, as some existing members in the club are neither Caribbean or African. CASA provides many exciting ways for members to get involved, such as our campus-wide fashion shows!  From strutting down the runway displaying the wonderful prints and colors of African and Caribbean attires, to working behind the scenes of the shows, there are many ways to get involved. And as a bonus for being a member, you can attend these fun-filled events for free!


Another event which I love that makes me feel like I’m back in Nigeria again is CASA’s culture night. During this, many Holy Cross students, whether they are from Worcester or halfway across the country, get a taste of what Caribbean and African culture is really like. A wide range of African and Caribbean food, music, dance, and prose are presented and performed and by the end of the night, students, as well as teachers, leave this event feeling more enlightened and enriched about our culture.

CASA is holding our fourth annual Head-To-Toe Expo, âCaribbean Meets Africa.â This event is about educating the Holy Cross Community about the beauty and strengths of the African and Caribbean culture through art, clothing, and food. Please come and enjoy the celebrated event on campus. Sponsored by C.A.S.A. (Caribbean African Student Assemblage)

Along with these wonderful ceremonies, the tight knit community CASA has been able to form aside from these events allows me to always feel close to home. My home and my culture make up my identity and are things that define me as a person.  I carry them with me everywhere I go. As I continue to embark on my Holy Cross journey and get to know more about other Holy Cross students and their cultures, I want them to be able to know more about me and my culture as well. Now I no longer have to merely just tell people who I am. Through CASA’s array of events, I can now also show people the real me and let them live in my world too.


As cliché as it sounds, in a small, secluded college a thousand miles away from home, I was able to truly find my home away from home.

Career Fair Follow-up

September 28th, 2016 by msweeney

By Emily Bowman ’17


From left, General Electric employees and College of the Holy Cross alumni, Whitney Fremeau '11, Richard DiMatteo '12 and Angela Chaisson '15 all talk to current College of the Holy Cross students during a job fair held on 9/24/14.

So you’ve attended the Career Fair, stocked up on business cards and handed out more resumes than you can keep track of. Success!  But now what?  One of the most crucial steps of any networking experience is the follow-up.  Letting people know that you valued their conversation and were truly interested in what they had to offer will go a long way.  Don’t forget, these recruiters talked to hundreds of students… you have to make yourself stand out!

In the email, you should thank the recruiter for taking the time to speak with you.  You should then mention one or two specific details of your conversation that really stuck with you.  This will demonstrate that you were engaged in the conversation and have spent time thinking about the discussion since then.  It’s also another opportunity for you to make a connection to the company – use the conversation as a way to prove your potential asset to the company.

If you felt that your dialogue with the recruiter was a helpful and productive one, you might want to ask the him/her a question to keep the conversation rolling.  Specific questions about the company or about the recruiter’s role are great.  It’s also more than appropriate to ask for any advice they might have for you at this stage in the job search process.  Recruiters understand the ins and outs of the networking process better than anyone else, so capitalize on this chance to pick their brains!

Overall, networking is about making connections on any level.  Keep your emails professional and friendly… but never be afraid to add a touch of personality too! The purpose of following up is to keep the conversations going, network further, and show recruiters that you would be a catch at any company!

If you have any questions about networking or want help crafting your follow-up emails, feel free to stop by the Center for Career Development (Hogan 203) during drop-in hours Monday-Friday, 1-4pm.

Co-Curricular Extravaganza: A Guide to Navigating a Room Filled with Over 100 Clubs

September 14th, 2016 by msweeney

By John Swartzwelder ‘19

Potential Class of 2020 students visit the Admissions open house on April, 17, 2016.
My first memory of the Co-Curricular Extravaganza was somewhat of a blur- and here’s why. The room was noticeably hotter than outside, more hectic than NYC during rush hour and louder than ten million girls screaming Justin Beiber’s name. Just about every club on campus is tightly packed into the Hogan Ballroom and overly enthusiastic RSO’s do just about anything to grab your attention to hear their club’s sales pitch. But do not be discouraged from going- if I survived and was able to meet with some clubs then you can too! Below, I’ve provided some advice to help you navigate the Co-Curricular Extravaganza and make the most of your experience there.

  • Grab a list of clubs present. If you skim through the packet quickly, you can save yourself a lot of time walking around. You can find the list just outside the ballroom.
  • Walk around and take everything in. Maybe walk around again. And again. You may just find something that catches the eye the second time around.
  • Do not be afraid to talk to the club director or general member at the table. You can ask them general to specific questions, which may give you a better idea about the club.
  • Put your name down on the email list! If you change your mind later, you can always take your name off. It is best to receive emails from clubs regarding informational sessions and general member meetings.
  • As a reward for being interested in their club, most tables provide freebies. Take them!
  • Do not feel pressured to join anything, especially if you already feel too overwhelmed. I express this piece of advice especially towards first-year students. Life at Holy Cross is hectic enough- your class dean recommends joining no more than two clubs and stresses the importance of academics first.
  • Just have fun! Holy Cross truly prides itself on creating and fostering “community” ideals, which starts with students getting involved with various clubs and organizations. Hopefully by the time you finish browsing, you will have found a co-curricular, or two, that truly interests you.

And on a final note, if you do join a club…Congratulations! Becoming a member of any campus organization is a full commitment but also extremely rewarding. My last piece of advice is to stop by the Center for Career Development to start or approve your resume, which will showcase all your accomplishments and highlight your on-campus involvement. Hours are M-F 1-4 pm and Wednesday 10am-12pm.

#CrusaderIntern: Oxfam America

August 9th, 2016 by msweeney

by Emily Peplowski ’17, Hunger Banquet Research and Concert Outreach InternE.Peplowski Oxfam America

This summer, I have been working closely with Oxfam America’s Community Engagement team on two of their biggest advocacy projects, Hunger Banquets and Concerts. My personal responsibility this summer has been to organize Oxfam volunteers from across the country for the U.S. leg of Coldplay’s “A Head Full of Dreams Tour.” By the end of my internship, I will have received over 500 volunteer applications, and coordinated 220 volunteers for 22 different shows, in 19 different cities as part of Oxfam’s global Stand as One Campaign.

The best part of my job is that I get to engage with the grass-roots foundation of a much larger, global effort. The incredible volunteers at these shows are essential in reaching the Stand As One campaign’s goal of 500,000 “signatures of solidarity” to support those globally who have been forced to flee their homes. This list of signatures will be presented to world leaders at the UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants in the fall, is led by the international organization Oxfam, is backed by Chris Martin and Coldplay, and represents such a global and current issue. Despite the massiveness of this effort and the high profile people involved, the success of the campaign is largely dependent on the volunteers that I have been coordinating all summer. It goes without saying that getting to work closely with- and see- the Coldplay tour has been a pretty cool part of my internship too!

I think what has surprised me most is how complicated and challenging volunteer coordination really is. There are many moving parts in each city, for each show, on every team, and with every individual volunteer. Sitting at my computer in Boston, it is difficult to keep track of all of these moving parts to ensure that Coldplay will have ten Oxfam volunteers at each of their shows to promote the campaign. With the 22 shows happening all across the United States in only 45 days, it is a fast-paced work environment with daily deadlines and not much room for error. Volunteer coordination is a fun position to have, and I love to work with so many different people for a great organization, but it really keeps me on my toes and tests my ability to adapt and problem solve!

Please and Thank You Notes

August 2nd, 2016 by msweeney

by Megan Chester, Assistant Director, Center for Career DevelopmentMeganChester Nov2012

Summer is not quite over but September is only a few short weeks away. As you prepare to wrap up your internship, keep in mind that leaving on a good note is just as important as the first impression you made back in June. You may want to return to this internship next summer or pursue a job with this employer. I know next summer and graduation are probably not on your mind right now, but a thoughtful thank you note will really pay off in the long run when you are ready to start searching for your next summer internship or full-time job.

Handwritten Thank You Notes
The conclusion of an internship is an instance where a handwritten note to your immediate supervisor and anyone else you worked closely with will really stand out. Be specific and personal in your note. Thank each person for something particular such as providing supervision and advice, helping you with a project, or taking the time to grab lunch together. Mentioning the little things reflects your maturity and sincerity. A thank you note will show your supervisor and co-workers that you took the internship seriously and really got something out of it. An actual handwritten card is also a tangible memory of you; it’s something to tack on a bulletin board and keep you top-of-mind in the months to come.

Thank You Email
Interactions with neighboring departments, clients, and other interns ebb and flow throughout the summer. A personalized thank you email to these peripheral contacts will help you stand out as a professional and create an avenue for future networking. An email is a perfect way to express gratitude for working with them, even if it was distant relationship or a onetime interaction, and reflect your greater understanding of their role and your industry knowledge. A thank you email will also help you build more of your own contacts in the industry and will result in warmer outreach when you are networking for your next internship or full-time role.

#CrusaderIntern: Yale School of Medicine Child Study Center

July 26th, 2016 by msweeney

by Margot Reed ’18, Research InternMargot Reed--Holy Cross Summer Internship 2016

This summer, I feel fortunate to work as a research intern in a child psychiatry lab at the Yale School of Medicine Child Study Center. I am currently researching Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in school children. I am researching how ADHD impacts a child’s behavior in a school setting. With the assistance of Yale Medical Residents, we are also studying possible therapies for school refusal and tracking mindfulness. Along with my mentor Dr. Michael Bloch, Assistant Professor in the Child Study Center, I also meet with children and their families to explore and possibly diagnose Tourette syndrome, Trichotillomania, OCD, ADHD, and other anxiety disorders. I then document these clinic visits summarizing the patient’s history as well as any diagnoses for submission to my mentor and his medical team for review.

I look most forward to case study days when I am able to meet with the patients and their families. During my first case interactions, I merely observed and took copious notes to help with the post interview documentation. However, I now have been asked to fully participate: I have the ability to ask questions of the patient and their family in order to help discover behaviors that might help diagnose a patient’s disorder. Through my participation, I feel that I am helping the patient by making it easier for them to understand their sometimes confusing behavior and the anxiety that it may cause, which will hopefully put them and their loved ones at ease.

I am fortunate enough to be working for a doctor who trusts his lab with responsibility. When I initially started, I did not think that I would be offered so many opportunities for face-to-face patient exposure and the responsibility to complete research on the most intriguing behavioral topics. Dr. Bloch continuously challenges us. He believes that we are capable of tasks that I hadn’t even imagined when I began my internship! I am humbled to be working not only for him, but with him.

#CrusaderIntern: Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA)

July 19th, 2016 by msweeney
Q.Nguyen MIRA

With Senator Ed Markey after a round table discussion on DACA/DAPA immigration policies on June 24, 2016.

by Quynh Nguyen ’17

Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) is a political organization that focuses on helping immigrants obtain legal status in the United States. We host citizenship clinics to help people fill out the naturalization application, host rallies and events to advocate for positive immigration policies, and lobby with local government officials to “pressure” policymakers. I am one of two communications interns this summer. The communications department is composed of the two interns and our director, so as such a small group we take on a lot more work than the other interns here from other departments.

On a day-to-day basis, I assist the Director with organizing and updating our member/volunteer database, researching CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, entering data for donations/registrations/etc, among other things. Before event days, I make E-poster announcements using an online platform and create draft emails to be sent out. Additionally, I make phone calls to our members, volunteers and news stations to invite them to the event. On event days, I am the designated photographer and social media publisher. I snap photos and update our Twitter account on a real-time basis. The days following an event, I call attendees to thank them for their effort and support and I update our social media accounts with photos.

What surprises me the most at MIRA is how hectic things are! I had always seen on TV that a political/governmental office is crazy with people running amuck with a mountainous stack of documents in one hand and a coffee mug in the other, but who knew that it’s really like this in real life! This hustling and bustling atmosphere really motivates me to adapt quickly and be part of the team. This is why I love my job with MIRA and appreciate the exposure I receive. I aspire to work for the United Nations one day to aid and promote minority issues so the experience at MIRA is giving me the opportunity to jumpstart my career. I am able to meet many important politicians while on the job so I am hopeful that I will be able to create an extensive network this way. MIRA is allowing me to become a young professional for a great cause and I can’t imagine a better internship!

#CrusaderIntern: Congratulations! You’re Halfway There

July 13th, 2016 by msweeney

PamAhearn_May2010_5x7Lgby Pam Ahearn, Senior Associate Director, Center for Career Development

Welcome to the halfway point of your internship. You’ve settled into the office, figured out where the bathrooms are, how to access your email, and what some of the office acronyms mean. You’ve also stopped getting lost on your way to fill up your water bottle. Now is a great time to check-in on the progress of your summer so far and assess if you are meeting your goals for the internship.

Take some time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished thus far:

  • Is there still unfinished business to attend to or skills that you want to hone?
  • Are there additional people you want to network with at the organization?
  • Have you identified additional goals for yourself? If so, write them down and try to strategize how you will achieve them.

Don’t forget to complete you Midpoint Evaluation in Crusader Connections!

Hopefully you are enjoying the experience and have just the right amount of work every day. I often hear from intern supervisors that the work they assign to their Holy Cross intern is done so efficiently that they need to find more work for the intern to do. (Well done, HC!)

If you find yourself in this situation and you need more work, think about the following:

  • Have you noticed a particular gap in a process at the organization?
  • Can you think of a project that would ease someone’s work load significantly?
  • Is there a need for organizing files (hard copy or electronic)?
  • Is there any research you could do that would move a project along?

If you can answer yes to any of these questions, then take the initiative and go about solving these problems. Everyone loves a go-getter! Be sure to ask your boss first before tackling a new project or asking other colleagues if they need help. Once you get the go-ahead, run with it!

Finally, have you discovered through this internship that this just isn’t the right industry or career path for you? Consider yourself lucky to have figured this out during a 10 week commitment versus a month or two into a full time job! Still, continue to do your best work and remain positive. A good attitude goes a long way and you’ll rely on your supervisor to give you a good reference in the future.

If you have some down time, think about how you might apply your talents and skills to a different career. We have a whole host of resources on our website that can assist you. You can also schedule a call with a Career Counselor to help you get started. We’re happy to chat over your lunch break!

Let us know if you are hitting other road blocks this summer. We are here to help you make the most of your summer!!!! We look forward to reading all of those Midpoint Evaluations!

#CrusaderIntern: Environment North Carolina

July 5th, 2016 by msweeney

by Abigail Benjamin ’18

This summer I am interning with Environment North Carolina. I work at their office in Raleigh, a city I was previously unfamiliar with, despite being a North Carolina resident. I work with four other interns, all of whom attend various East Coast colleges and universities. My daily routine is nonexistent; every day holds something different. While my overall week generally looks the same – Mondays spent in the office, Tuesdays spent phonebanking until 7PM, Wednesdays spent petitioning at the farmers’ market, Thursdays spent at the field office, and Fridays spent wrapping up the week’s work and planning for the next week – each day has a different schedule, which could change with a minute’s notice.

A.Benjamin bee_rally

Save the Bees Rally & Press Conference

I have a wide range of duties, but my favorites are the ones that involve the most responsibility. Our first real project was to assist a partner organization, Toxic Free NC, with their Save the Bees Rally and Press Conference. The project involved 500 petition signatures, hours of phonebanking, and a day of poster-making. It wasn’t anything difficult, but the experience prepared us for the rest of the summer. Currently, the other interns and I are planning four campaign events, at least two of which will involve a press conference. Having no previous event planning experience, this has proved challenging but fun. Basically, planning an event for Environment North Carolina involves contacting local governments, farmers, coalition partners, media, and businesses and lots of phonebanking, emails, and confirmation calls.

The other interns and I mostly work in groups while meeting individual goals, but I have been given two personal initiatives so far. The first is to assist with the release of our state report on pollution caused by Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, specifically Smithfield Foods’ hog operations in North Carolina. I am working with our state director and a Sierra Club employee to release this report and hold a Telepresser media brief. My second initiative is to train canvassers on how to write letter-to-the-editors and edit their letters each week.

I write a lot of letter-to-the-editors, usually at least one per week per active campaign. As an intern group, we have published at least one letter a week. My first letter was published in the Charlotte Observer, where they ran the letter alongside my most professional selfie. In hindsight, I should have attended the Career Fair when they were taking pictures for LinkedIn profiles.

The most exciting part of this internship so far has been when we go to the NC General Assembly. The first time, we delivered seismic blasting fact-sheets to legislators and asked them to sign on to a letter drafted by Representative Harrison addressed to Secretary Jewel, urging the Department of the Interior to deny all applications for seismic blasting permits on the Atlantic coast. I was able to speak to a number of legislators, including my own representative, Larry Pittman.

The second time I went to the General Assembly was when we tried to watch a vote on a particularly troubling bill that was disguised as environmentally friendly but would actually delay the cleanup of Duke Energy’s coal ash sites. The bill had already passed the Senate but still had the potential to be stopped by the House. I say we tried to watch the vote because we were not successful – the vote was pushed so far back in the day that we could not stay. Unfortunately, the bill ended up passing 82-32, much to the dismay of the Southern Environmental Law Center, Appalachian Voices, and Environment North Carolina.

Currently, I am looking forward to the Beach Days of Action that two other interns and I are planning. These Days of Action will take place on three different North Carolina beaches and will attempt to educate the public on the dangers of seismic blasting as well as create a platform for local advocates and citizens to voice their concerns about seismic blasting through signing petitions and tweeting photo petitions to President Obama. We will be hosting press conferences at two of the beaches, featuring remarks from coalition partners and – fingers-crossed – a Duke University researcher and the mayor of Kure Beach.

#CrusaderIntern: Networking Tips For Summer Interns

June 29th, 2016 by msweeney

by Julie Draczynski ’99, Associate Director, Center for Career DevelopmentJulie Photo

As you know, networking is a key part of an effective internship search. So, you might be thinking, “I’ve got the internship, now I can relax.” Think again!! What better place to expand your network and build relationships with key contacts than your place of employment for the summer? A summer internship gives you unique access to many professionals in an industry or company that interests you. Here are a few networking tips to make the most of your summer internship:

  1. Be friendly. Smile a lot and ask questions. It’s easy to meet people and build relationships among your team and across the organization if you’re approachable.
  2. Seek out people to network with. Get a copy of the organization chart. Find people that are in a role that you would like to learn more about. Talk to your supervisor about the best way to reach out and meet those people. Usually, it is as simple as sending an email to ask if they would be willing to meet for coffee or lunch.
  3. Go to company sponsored events. Getting yourself out of the office to mingle with co-workers at company sponsored social events can be an effective way to build relationships with people across the organization.
  4. Show interest in other people’s work. Learn more about the work others at the organization are doing and how it impacts your team, division and the company. People love to talk about themselves. Showing genuine interest in the work that they are doing can go a long way.
  5. Once you are settled into your role, talk about your future plans and ask for advice. Seek out people at the organization that are doing the type of work you aspire to do. Ask for an informational interview or to meet for coffee or lunch. Share your interests and ask for advice on how to position yourself as a strong candidate in the future.
  6. Nurture your relationships. Effective networking is an ongoing process that involves building and cultivating relationships. Keep in touch with the contacts you make at the company. Meet for coffee or simply smile and say hello when you’re passing their desk or office. Send a note at the end of the internship to thank them for taking the time to talk with you. Connect with them on LinkedIn and keep in touch throughout the year once you’re back on campus.

Summer internships provide a great opportunity to build your network of key contacts. Don’t let that opportunity pass you by! Get out there, smile and grab a coffee with a co-worker!

Written by Julie Draczynski
Associate Director, Center for Career Development