Meet Alum Daniel O’Brien ’17, PhD Candidate, Georgetown

Name: Daniel O’Brien

Class Year: 2017

Title: PhD Candidate at Georgetown

 

1. In one sentence, what does your job entail?  

I’m designing and building a “smart BandAid”-like patch for monitoring patient health.

 

2. What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? 

I wanted to experience physics research, so I applied for and was accepted to an NSF-REU program at Georgetown after my sophomore year at Holy Cross. After, graduation, I ended up returning for grad school.

 

3. How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?    
My department is small and has a great community, just like HC Physics! After getting to know everybody on a first-name basis, I was sure it was the spot for me.

 

4. What were you involved in when you were on campus?  

I was in the society of physics students, acting as president during senior year. The rest of my time was taken by intramural sports.
5. What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?
I was a physics major at HC, and my time in class taught me analytical skills that I’m sure will carry on for years. I hope to stay in STEM, moving to either micro-scale device fabrication, medical work, or climate science after grad school.
6. What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work? 
My writing – every day. I write papers, grant applications, etc. When I’m not in lab, I’m either writing or analyzing data, so I recommend you take those CRAW classes seriously and don’t go skipping lecture.
7. What advice do you have for students today?
Get more involved! I wish I spent more time as an ally & engaging with BSU, Pride, POW, LASO, etc. Every community needs allyship in order to extend its reach, and that’s a sphere I wish I spent more time in. Also: take advantage of those common area requirements. They’re not just check boxes to tick — you can gain so much by really taking advantage of the liberal arts offerings.

 

Meet Alum Patrick C. Drain ’01, Deputy Foreign Policy Advisor to the Chief of Naval Operations

Name: Patrick C. Drain

Class Year: 2001

Job Title: Deputy Foreign Policy Advisor to the Chief of Naval Operations

Military Rank: Commander (O-5)

Organization Name: US Navy

 

1. In one sentence, what does your job entail?

I support the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) through his Foreign Policy Advisor to by providing key information, analysis, and specific advice on a wide range of diplomatic and political-military issues that concern the U.S. Navy.

 

2. What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?

I joined the US Navy in 2001 upon graduating from Holy Cross, and initially I served as a Surface Warfare Officer.  It was a pretty good fit, but after about a decade I realized there was a better option for me within the Navy.

 In 2011, I transferred into the Foreign Area Officer (FAO) Community in the Navy, which placed me in a cadre of Middle East (CENTCOM)-focused officers and offered one year of Arabic language training and a Master’s Degree in National Security Studies.

My focus was to do my best as a Middle East FAO, and this eventually earned me enough recognition to be asked by name to join the CNO’s personal staff.

My tip on knowing if something is a good fit: If on most days you wake up in the morning and look forward to going to work, then you’re in the right place.  If on most occasions this doesn’t happen, then you should probably look for a new job.

 

3. What were you involved in when you were on campus?

 

Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), all four years

Student Government Association – Class VP (freshman and sophomore years), SGA Parliamentarian (Junior Year)

Resident Assistant (Junior Year)

Students for Responsible Choices (Senior Year)

First Year Program

 

4. What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?

 

Political Science.  It was a reflection of my interest in international affairs, and I do not think it affected any of my career decisions.  I could have majored in anything at Holy Cross and gone down the same path.  They critical thing Holy Cross gave me is a firm foundation in thinking deeply about issues and the capability to intelligently express my ideas.

 

 

5. What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

 

Writing.  The amount of writing – and the thorough analysis of our writing, at Holy Cross helped to hone a crucially important skill for many, many jobs.

 

6. What advice do you have for students on campus today?

 

 Stick with what you love to do – you’ll work with more enthusiasm in these fields than you would otherwise.  Even if doing what you love means you will be starting at the bottom of what seems like an impossibly long ladder, it will be worth it in the long run.  People notice enthusiasm, and it will open doors you cannot imagine.

 

Don’t stick with jobs that are “comfortable.”  Once you get good at something and you feel like you’ve learned what you need to learn and you’ve got it down, it’s time to start thinking about where you want to go next.  Look to do things that will push your envelope and force you to learn more and be more than the comfortable job ever would.

 

Minor in a foreign language and aim for fluency.

 

Take a statistics course.

Meet Alumna Melissa Howland ’15, Senior Program Coordinator for Off-Campus Programs, Boston University

Name: Melissa Howland

Class Year: 2015

Title: Senior Program Coordinator for Off-Campus Programs

Organization Name: Boston University, School of Social Work

 

1. In one sentence, what does your job entail? 

My job entails coordinating events, class schedules, faculty assignments, student services and advising to Masters of Social Work students across our four Off-Campus satellite locations around the state.

 

2. What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?  

Right out of college I thought I wanted to work in emergency management and was offered a position with FEMA, but due to some health issues I was not able to take the position. I then started thinking about education since right out of high school I thought I wanted to become a teacher. I applied to work with an organization called College Possible at their Philadelphia office to work with high school students. I was offered a position in their St. Paul office working with college students. Although it was not what I thought I originally wanted, I accepted and that decision has helped shape my career in higher education and non-profits since.

I learned that I enjoyed working with college students, especially in an advising capacity and working with them through the transition from high school to college. I quickly learned that I was not destined to be a classroom teacher and I really appreciated working with students one-on-one. I now work in a bit of a different capacity where I get to develop and administer a program to continually enhance the student-experience.

 

3. What were you involved in when you were on campus?

When I was a student, I was involved with the Student Advisory Committee for the Sociology & Anthropology department, I studied abroad in La Coruna, Spain and I worked in lower Kimball.

 

4. What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?

I was an Anthropology major and completed a concentration in Latin American & Latino Studies. The biggest takeaway for me from this major was that I enjoyed learning about people and hearing their stories. This became evident when I started advising students because I was able to build relationships with them that allowed us to develop plans for them to reach their own academic or personal goals.

 

5. What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

Some major skills I developed at Holy Cross were my time management and organizational skills. Especially the few semester I was taking 5 classes, I had to stay on top of my readings and assignments or I would quickly fall behind. When I was managing caseloads of between 80-150 students it was critical to keep on top of my workload and now managing four satellite campuses, it is critical I stay organized to deliver an equitable program across all sites and stay on task for the many different deadlines throughout the academic year.

I also learned how to say yes to a lot of opportunities while at Holy Cross which is something I have carried with me. I said yes to many events on campus that led me to meeting many people, trying out classes I otherwise would not have signed up for and attending events put on by all different clubs. This has continued in how I have made career choices, from applying for jobs outside of my comfort zone to moving across the country for different opportunities. It has even guided me back to school, as I am now a Master’s in Business Administration candidate with a focus on Social Impact.

 

6. What advice do you have for students on campus today?

I would encourage students to take advantage of the many opportunities around campus to try out new experiences and build their resume. I was involved in a few things but really regret not doing more. I would also encourage students to reach out to alumni or others in their network to learn about all types of jobs. Mostly, be willing to step outside your comfort zone, try something new and maybe take a chance on something even if it not exactly what you think you want. It could be the best choice you ever make!

Meet Alum Bill Garey ’14, Director of Acquisitions, Taurus Investment Holdings

Name:Bill Garey

Class Year: 2014

Title: Director of Acquisitions

Organization Name:Taurus Investment Holdings

 

1. In one sentence, what does your job entail? 

Sourcing & underwriting acquisition opportunities across the commercial real estate sector.

 

2. What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?

I started working at Wells Fargo in their Real Estate Banking Group. I wanted an analyst role with high deal volume to start understanding the industry and the different sectors within it. I was always interested in real estate and learned more by speaking with Holy Cross alumni in the industry. Through continuing to network and experience on the job, I was able to decipher which areas were the best fit for my interests.

 

3. What were you involved in when you were on campus?

 Intramurals, SGA and club basketball.

 

4. What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?

 I was an economics major. I knew I wanted to go into business and it helped prepare me to think critically and understand the larger economy.

 

5. What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

My writing ability and critical thinking. The broad education at Holy Cross has been hugely beneficial early in my career. While I was focused on technical knowledge and understanding the numbers in business, I underestimated the importance of strong writing and critical thinking. Holy Cross gave me a strong foundation to write succinctly, clearly articulate my thoughts and try to understand situations from different perspectives.

 

6. What advice do you have for students on campus today?

Network and follow up. The Holy Cross alumni are incredibly generous with their time and most are happy to provide advice. If they don’t answer you, don’t be discouraged – they are likely busy. Feel free to follow up and keep in touch with the people you meet. A better network helps you at all stages of your career.

Meet Alumna Erin Kenning ’17, Global Senior PR Manager

Name: Erin Kenning

Class Year: 2017

Title: Global Senior PR Manager

Organization Name: Galvan London

 

1. In one sentence, what does your job entail?

I am responsible for achieving the overall positioning and image goals of the brand on a global level through editorial placements, celebrity dressings, influencer activations, digital PR, and branded events.

 

2. What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?  

I always imagined myself working in the fashion industry since I was a young girl, but I didn’t know exactly what field I wanted to be in. When I was a freshman, I attended a Holy Cross fashion networking event at alumni Carolyn Risoli’s home in NYC. At this event, I met Erika Bearman who was the SVP of Global Communications and PR at Oscar de la Renta. After hearing Erika speak about her career at the event, I reconnected with her through email to speak more about her career path. We met at Oscar de la Renta’s HQ in New York, and soon after she offered me a summer internship in the PR department. From the moment I entered the PR closet and became immersed in the PR world of fashion, I knew then and there that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I continued to intern at Oscar de la Renta for almost two years every winter and summer break. After I graduated, a woman from the Oscar de la Renta PR team offered me a position at a new company she was moving to called Solid & Striped. It was a unique role where I would help build and establish the first in-house global communications and PR team, which jump started my career.

 

3. What were you involved in when you were on campus?

I was involved in HC Fashion Society and volunteered at Blaire House (Alzheimer’s home) and Girls Inc. in Worcester.

 

4. What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?

I was an English major with a concentration in creative writing. I don’t think that my major necessarily affected my career decisions, however it certainly helped me in my career as it is very important to be able to speak and write articulately in PR.

 

5. What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

The key skill that I developed at Holy Cross was to be a divergent, unconventional thinker which I attribute to my liberal arts education.

 

6. What advice do you have for students on campus today?

Never stop learning. If you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong place.

Meet Alumna Lizzie McManus Streit ’13, Online Business- It’s a Veg World After All

Name: Lizzie McManus Streit

Class Year: 2013

Title: Self Employed/ Online Business

Organization: It’s a Veg World After All

 

1. In one sentence, what does your job entail?  

I am a self-employed registered dietitian, cookbook author, and creator of It’s a Veg World After All who focuses on nutrition communications and culinary nutrition, providing science writing, recipe development, photography, and video content services.

 

2. What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decided it was a good fit for you? 

Since I went to graduate school shortly after Holy Cross, I didn’t have a traditional employer right away. Instead, I spent the time between graduation and starting my masters program launching my blog, which started as a hobby website where I would showcase the ways I used vegetables from my community supported agriculture (CSA) share. I was definitely inspired by my coursework at HC to become a dietitian and pursue a career in food. One event that sticks out in my mind is a guest lecture that I attended in Fenwick by the professor David Montgomery from University of Washington (author of the book Dirt) on soil health. This lecture, as well as a course about nutrition and psychology offered by Professor Axelson that I took during my senior year, were two key events that inspired me to continue to learn about food systems and the intersections between food production, food choices, and the environment. Starting a blog and pursuing a masters in nutrition allowed me to explore these concepts while building up a portfolio that would eventually launch my career.

 

3. What were you involved in when you were on campus?  

I was the co-chair of the Eco-Action club, a member of the Presidential Task Force on the Environment, and an intern for the Regional Environmental Council in Worcester. I also wrote a thesis in sociology on natural disasters and mental health with Professor Daina Harvey as my adviser.

 

4. What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?  

I had a double major in Sociology and Environmental Studies. By combining these majors, I was exposed to both social and natural sciences. Having a liberal arts degree before pursuing a masters in science has really shaped how I work as a dietitian now. When writing about nutrition, I am able to understand and analyze scientific studies while also critically thinking about the application of science in real life.

 

5. What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work? 

Reading and understanding scientific studies, public speaking, and writing!

 

6. What advice do you have for students today? 

It’s never too early or too late to start pursuing what you want to do for a career. If you don’t know what you want to do right now, don’t stress! Attend lectures, go to networking events, email with alumni who work in your field of interest, or start writing and reading about topics that interest you.

Meet Alumna Lauren Brown ’07, Assistant Attorney General

Name: Lauren Brown

Class Year: 2007

Title:  Assistant Attorney General

Organization Name: Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia

 

1. In one sentence, what does your job entail?

I work in the Government Contracts Section of the Commercial Division at the Office of the Attorney General, where I represent the District in bid protest litigation and review and negotiate contracts for various agency purchases that include items, such as new fire trucks for the District to working on the contract for a new bridge worth more than $440 million.

 

2. What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?

After I graduated Holy Cross, I went straight to law school, so I didn’t start my job search until I was in law school. I knew I wanted to work for the government in some capacity, so I started applying to positions, but at the time, the legal market didn’t have very many open, entry-level positions. Moreover, I was fresh out of school with no actual job experience (beyond internships). Thus, my first few positions after law school were temporary positions, which provided me with an opportunity to gain work experience and additional skills while I continued my job search for a permanent position.

One of the key themes in terms of events that connected me to my employers has been networking. Even if a connection may not have a job opening right now, it is important to maintain that relationship because you never know when that individual will have an opening in the future or they will hear about an opportunity that they can share with you. I learned about my current position from one of my former supervisors at the Connecticut General Assembly, Office of Legislative Management. My former supervisor was attending a procurement conference in Washington, DC and heard that the Office of the Attorney General was going to be hiring procurement attorneys and she passed the information along to me. I then applied for that position, which is how I learned about my current job. Therefore, it is important to grow and maintain your network and to let your network know that you are searching for a job.

Working in some positions that weren’t necessarily the best fit has helped me realize what is most important to me when I was searching for my current position. What I like most about my current position is working closely with our agency clients to accomplish their goals to improve life for District residents. I also like that my position provides me with a mixture of independent assignments, as well as an opportunity to work on other projects as a team with my colleagues.

 

3. What were you involved in when you were on campus?

I tutored at the Nativity School of Worcester through SPUD, served as Vice President of the Holy Cross Chapter of Model United Nations, worked as an Article Editor for the Holy Cross Journal of Law and Public Policy, and was a member of the Political Science Student Advisory Council, the Holy Cross College Republicans, and the Investment Club.

 

4. What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?

I majored in Political Science and minored in Economics at Holy Cross. I loved majoring in Political Science and took so many great courses at Holy Cross that I knew I wanted to continue my pursuit toward working in the government. I considered getting a master’s degree in public policy, but at the time, I wasn’t sure that was ultimately the area that I wanted to spend my entire career in. After learning about the broad range of careers that people with law degrees have, from practicing law in the traditional sense to being CEOs of companies and everything in between, I decided that going to law school would provide me with more flexibility over the course of my career. Ultimately, the law school I selected to attend also offered a Law and Public Policy Certificate program, so I could still pursue that aspect of my education.

 

5. What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

Some of the most important skills I developed at Holy Cross that I use in my work are the ability to clearly write and communicate, as well as to analyze complex issues and succinctly explain them to others. Also, time management is crucial because on a daily basis I have numerous competing demands that I need to balance in order to meet various, oftentimes short, deadlines.

 

6. What advice do you have for students on campus today?

I recommend reaching out to Holy Cross alumni to ask if they would be willing to do an informational interview with you. It is a good way to learn more about what their current position entails and the steps they took to get to that point in their career. I’ve met with numerous alumni who have all been very generous with their time and it is a beneficial way to informally learn more about various positions and career paths. The strength of the Holy Cross Alumni Network is very true.

Doing internships or volunteer work in an area in which you are interested in gaining additional experience is beneficial. Internships and volunteering also provide you with an opportunity to see whether that type of work is something that you truly enjoy doing and want to pursue as a career. Programs such as Holy Cross’ Washington Semester Program are invaluable in terms of providing you with a high-quality internship and work experience.

Another suggestion is to join professional organizations, even while you are still a student. Many organizations offer free or reduced membership rates to students, offer valuable mentoring programs, and provide leadership opportunities. I am on the Board of Directors of the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia and we always encourage students to attend our events and to get more involved, which provides students with an opportunity to learn about various areas of the law in which they may want to pursue a career.

Meet Alumna Sara Swillo Muckian ’05, Director of Student Activities and Leadership Development

Name: Sara Swillo Muckian

Class Year: 2005

Title: Director of Student Activities and Leadership Development

Organization Name: Assumption University

 

1. In one sentence, what does your job entail?

My job is to provide a wide variety of vibrant activities and leadership development opportunities on campus for all students as well as advise student leaders on how they can take what they are learning in the classroom and apply it to their co-curricular activities and in real world experiences.

 

2. What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?  

I was working in OSI over the summer when I had a conversation with Brenda Hounsell Sullivan about how to remain active with orientation once my time as an OL was finished. She shared with me about getting a masters of education in student personnel administration and from there I applied to graduate schools. In graduate school, I attended a conference and was speaking after a presentation with one of presenter and thru a Worcester connection, I was offered an internship, at Assumption College, which then turned into my first job as Assistant Director of Student Activities. It is always important to make connections and maintain them!!

I knew that higher education was the right fit for me because I liked going to work, even on Mondays. I am a very extroverted person and being with students and hearing their stories fills my cup and gives me energy so I knew I was in the right field because I am happy to go to work!

 

3. What were you involved in when you were on campus?

As a student at Holy Cross, I was on Varsity XC, Winter and Spring track for two years before an injury prevented me from running. Then I became involved with CAB as the Special Events Chair. I was an Orientation leader for three years as well as a student employee in OSI. I also was on PKS and in charge of Purple Pride Day.

 

4. What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?

I was a Sociology major and to be honest I had no idea what I was going to do with that major. I did an internship my senior year in a middle school guidance counselor office  and realized rather quickly that I did not want to go into social work. I do love hearing people’s stories and learning about their backgrounds and how they work in a group so I knew I wanted to work with populations of people ideally in education. Just so happened that all my co-curricular activities were the starting point for my career.

 

5. What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

Active Listening- I know we did so many activities as a student leader that involved active listening and it has helped me immensely in my career, especially when it comes to listening to students and meeting them where they are.

Reflection and Discernment- I do not think I truly appreciated these skills in college as much as I do now. I find that when I have to make a difficult decision or when I am unsure of the correct path I should take, I spend time reflecting on past experiences, talking with mentors and my support system as well as taking time to think of all the possible outcomes from my decision. I learned to journal at Holy Cross and continue to do so today!

 

6. What advice do you have for students on campus today?

Get Involved!!! Get involved with something you are passionate about and make sure to attend events and programs that are outside of your comfort zone- these are the programs where you will learn the most. And lastly, make sure to slow down and truly appreciate the four years you are on Mt. St. James, enjoy the late night coffee breaks with your friends, attending sporting events and lectures and make sure to take some time to find out what you are passionate about and what drives you! Holy Cross is a great place to find yourself!

Meet Alum Sean Pacheco ’17, Creative Director at VIO Collective Inc.

Name: Sean Pacheco

Class Year: 2017

Title: Creative Director

Organization Name: VIO Collective Inc.

 

1. In one sentence, what does your job entail?

My job entails developing a voice for brands as well as producing results for small and large businesses through digital marketing methods, such as sales funnels, digital ad campaigns, innovative content creation, and more!

 

 

2. What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?  

When I was a first-year, I started to practice using my camera to make videos and take photos. My first collaboration was with the Admissions Office, where my friend was a social media intern. We created videos for the Admissions Office, Kimball Dining Hall, and more organizations on campus. It snowballed from there where as the more I did work, the more people started to recognize me and ask me to do work for them. So, my networking and just putting myself out there, trying to see how to use my talents across campus eventually connected me to a content creator job for a phone app startup right out of college.

 

3. What were you involved in when you were on campus?

I was very involved in the Campus Activities Board. CAB introduced me to marketing in a very fun and experimental way, and taught me how to start analyzing how audiences react to certain initiatives. I eventually started a digital marketing/content creation sub-section of CAB in which I was able to practice my craft and eventually put that on my resume as a pre-professional experience that aligns with my industry.

 

4. What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?

My major was Psychology with a Film minor, and the one thing about psychology that still helps me to this day is analyzing data, statistics, and understanding research methods. In the digital marketing world, you need to understand data and how to read it and also how to visualize it appropriately. Psychology has also helped me understand the psychology of the online user and has helped me deepen my understanding when working in digital marketing.

 

5. What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

A skill that I have developed at Holy Cross is presentation of information. Many times in the corporate world, you will be asked to present info and data, and Holy Cross prepared me in summarizing info, getting to the point, and figuring out what is the appropriate way of showing that info.

 

 

6. What advice do you have for students on campus today?

The advice I have is do things! Collaborate! You have a talent of some kind, whether if it’s artistic or not. Identify that and just try practicing it with clubs on campus, organizations, offices, and more. This is great for building your resume as well as developing your skills.

Meet Alumna Virginia Roach ’81, Stormwater/Green Infrastructure Lead Practitioner

Name: Virginia Roach

Class Year: 1981

Title: Stormwater/Green Infrastructure Lead Practitioner

Organization: CDM Smith

 

1. In one sentence, what does your job entail?

I am a civil/environmental engineer managing and designing stormwater/combined sewer overflow/green infrastructure systems with CDM Smith Inc. in Boston.

 

2. What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decided it was a good fit for you?  

Joined Jesuit Volunteer Corps, teaching 7thand 8th grade in Zuni, New Mexico after graduating from Holy Cross in 1981. Was then enrolled in law school, but read more about civil/environmental engineering in WPI course catalogue and was drawn to it.  Switched to WPI civil/environmental engineering program, and professor recommended me to CDM Smith recruiter visiting campus.  Have been working there since graduating from WPI in 1985.

 

3. What were you involved in when you were on campus?

Long-distance running, theater, Holy Cross Choir

 

4. What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?

Major at Holy Cross was mathematics, and studied junior year abroad in Madrid, Spain.  The combination of mathematics, Spanish language skills and liberal arts provided a great, broad foundation for civil engineering career.  Was able to complete second Bachelor’s Degree in civil/environmental engineering in a little over two years.  Completed Master’s Degree in civil engineering while working at CDM Smith.

 

5. What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

One of the most important skills developed at Holy Cross that has helped me in my career is writing.  Another is the ability to prove ideas through logic, developed from proving mathematical theorems.

 

6. What advice do you have for students on campus today?

If you are planning to continue your education after Holy Cross in a specialized area, read the course descriptions for the courses you will be taking.  This will give you a better idea of what you are getting into, and you will know better how interested you are in that career.