Archive for January, 2018

You Have Failed

January 24th, 2018 by eklamm

By: Lisa Samaraweera

Last semester I had the pleasure of being back on campus at the College of the Holy Cross. Over the past 15 years I’ve worked sporadically in the office of Career Development, covering maternity leaves and staff transitions. I help out with resumes and mock interviews, and any questions that come up for students around the job search process.  I was recently reminded of a blog post I wrote when I was on campus two years ago, and so as not to break tradition, I leave you with a few parting words as I pack up my desk from this most recent visit. Hope to see you all again soon!

I need you to sit down for this, because this will be hard to hear.

YOU HAVE FAILED.

Yup, that’s right. No sugar coating. No you-kinda-sorta-didn’t-succeed. No blaming on something or someone else. You have failed, and you need to own it.

Now, I understand that you’ve grown up in a world where you have been told how wonderful you are every step of the way. I know you’ve been bubble wrapped in accolades, and achievements, and a culture obsessively focused on success. You have parents who have expected great things from you, and you feel the pressure to be incredible and infallible. The world looks to you to save the planet AND be as glossy as Kim Kardashian AND as genius as Mark Zuckerberg. It’s very likely that you don’t talk about the word “failure” at all – and that, my friends, is what will hold you back as you make your way into the real world.

Learning how to fail, and come out in one piece, is what makes us human. Feeling crushing defeat, experiencing gut twisting regret, losing something or someone you love to a bad decision – these are the moments where we learn who we are. Where we discover what we are made of. These failures teach us how to be better and stronger – and without these failures we NEVER grow.

As you apply for internships and jobs, someone is going to inevitably ask you: “Tell me about a time that you failed.” This will make your skin crawl, and your stomach twist into knots. I know this because I’ve watched as many of you struggle through mock interviews, uncomfortable with the idea of sharing the parts of you that are vulnerable. You wonder what people will think of you if you tell them the truth. You search your brain for an example that showcases your strength, rather than a weakness (because this is what you’ve heard is the “right” way to answer). However, what any good interviewer is hoping to hear is not how indestructible and perfect you are as you maintain an unwavering smile.  They hope to hear an answer that is authentic, accountable, and transformative. They want to know about your journey, and how you can fail and still work towards your goals. They want to know that you can fail and laugh as you brush off the debris.

Regardless of what you’ve been to told, I need you know this – It’s ok to have an epic fail every once in a while. If you’re failing, you’re learning. If you’re failing, you’re becoming a better person. When you’re asked about a time that you failed, DON’T second guess yourself. Spill the beans about dropping out of organic chem, or not making the team, or getting kicked out of a club, or disappointing your parents with a really dumb decision. DON’T tell the story and apologize for it, or point the blame to someone else. DO tell the story and share how you grew and what in your life has changed as a result.

A famous yoga guru once said, “To fall out of the posture is human, getting back into the posture is to be a yogi.” Failure itself never defines us – it’s how we live after the failure that makes us who we are.

So, go ahead and fail. Own it like a boss. Tell anyone who will listen. Your success depends on it.

Meet Alumnus Joseph McClellan, Vice President, Biosimilars Development Lead at Pfizer

January 17th, 2018 by msweeney

Name: Joseph E. McClellan

Class Year: 1995

Title: Vice President, Biosimilars Development Lead

Organization Name: Pfizer Essential Health Research and Development, Pfizer Inc.

 

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

At Pfizer, I lead the global development of a large portfolio of biosimilars (which are highly similar with respect to physiochemical characteristics, biological activity, pharmacokinetics, efficacy, and safety to originator biologic medicines) by ensuring that all development programs are (1.) aligned with Pfizer strategy, global regulatory guidances and country regulatory feedback; (2.) delivered in a timely and cost-effective manner relative to the development plans; and (3.) developed to the highest quality standards.

 

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

I spent a lot of great time with a fabulous group of roommates and friends throughout my four years at Holy Cross.  (I still do a lot with my senior-year Alumni 23 roommates, even after over 20 years post-graduation.)  Also, I participated in Honors Research in Chemistry and was a member of the Men’s Golf Team.

 

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

I was a Chemistry major at Holy Cross with an interest in analytical chemistry and instrumentation.  After Holy Cross, I attained a Ph.D. in Chemistry and also completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship, both of which developed and evolved my knowledge of analytical chemistry and instrumentation, specifically in mass spectrometry.  To this day, I still consider myself a ‘Chemist’ and ‘Mass Spectrometrist’, even though I have not been a bench scientist in over 10 years.  All of my successes in chemistry and the biopharmaceutical industry can be traced to the foundation that I learned and developed at Holy Cross.

 

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? 

Directly after Holy Cross, I went to the University of Florida to pursue my Ph.D. in chemistry.  I chose UF based on a strong analytical chemistry program, which I was keenly interested in based on my Honors Research at Holy Cross.  After my Ph.D. and Postdoctoral Fellowship at Boston University School of Medicine, I began my career at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in 2002, which was acquired by Pfizer Inc. in 2009.   From the outside and in retrospect, my path looks quite calculated and plodding.  However, at each turn every decision was ‘unplanned’ as none of these schools (including Holy Cross), programs, or company was my ‘first choice’ prior to the decision being made.  They all turned out to be the absolute right, best decision for me!  I have been very fortunate in this way and think that is a lesson for folks to recognize that we are often put in opportunities that provide opportunities for success and its vitally important for each individual put forth the optimum effort to succeed.  After 15 years, I am still with the same company, though I have had many distinct roles with ever evolving responsibilities throughout my career.

 

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

At Holy Cross, I learned about analytical chemistry, instrumentation, and mass analysis, which were the early foundation for both my Ph.D. and initial career at Pfizer.  These skills are still used today as I work with development teams and assess physiochemical data for our biosimilars programs.  More importantly, I learned how to be an individual researcher and solve complicated problems on my own at Holy Cross through the Honors Research program.  While team interactions are very important in science and the biopharmaceutical industry, the ability for a scientist to solve complicated problems by his or herself is an important part for both the scientist’s and the team’s success.

Meet Alumna Makayla Humphrey ’15 Associate Producer at CNN

January 17th, 2018 by eklamm

 

Name: Makayla Humphrey
Clas Year: 2015
Title: Associate Producer
Organization Name: CNN

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

I help plan the rundown, conduct research and edit video for CNN’s Morning Program New Day.

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?

The Washington Semester was crucial in helping me decide to pursue a career in political journalism. I interned for Hardball with Chris Matthews the fall semester of my Junior year at Holy Cross. I fell in love with the pace of broadcast and the team environment. After college I was hired to be an NBC Page, which is a one-year rotational program in media (I highly recommend!) and after the program, I returned to the Hardball team on MSNBC. If it wasn’t for the Washington Semester, it might have taken me a lot longer to break into national news.

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

I was a part of the SGA Cabinet throughout my four years on campus and worked as a Resident Assistant. While these groups were a blast on campus, they also taught me excellent time management and organizational skills that prepared me for a professional career.

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

As a political science major I loved to debate current events and government. I always thought I would pursue a career on Capitol Hill. However it was after my internship with Hardball that I realized I could have a career where I am able to read, research and learn every day by working in news! Every single day presents a new challenge, especially in our political climate right now. The job is physically and mentally demanding every day, and I know I would never want to work anywhere else!

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

Critical reading!! I recently told Professor Mangiero that I never understood what I was supposed to be gaining by reading 200 pages for class every week. Now I read that much every single day before work. The ability to read and think critically about what I have read is a skill that is invaluable to me.

What advice do you have for students on campus today?

Show up early and be present. Whether its a class, club meeting or internship- be early! I have made it a habit in my career to always be thirty minutes early for work every single day. It gives me time to prep my day so I don’t feel behind right at the start of work. It also has given me time to work on my own research and even help out my bosses/superiors with special projects right as they walk through the door. I found it is an easy way to make a good impression at the start of your career.

Meet Alumna Asmani Adhav ’17, Clinical Research Coordinator at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

January 17th, 2018 by eklamm
Class year: 2017
Major: Biology (with concentration in GSWS) on the Pre-Medical track
Employer: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Position: Clinical Research Coordinator- Pediatric Oncology/Hematologic Malignancy

What does your job entail?

I’m currently coordinating 14 research protocols, each of which seeks to improve survival outcomes for children with cancer. Specifically, the protocols I work on are geared towards using various therapies and techniques to tackle several different types of leukemias. There are three parts to my position: clinical interaction, regulatory organization, and data entry. Clinical interaction includes processing patient consent documents, enrolling patients onto study, following their progress through the study, communicating required research assessments to patient clinical teams, and shipping samples. Regulatory organization involves making sure that all investigators on a protocol have proper training, addressing queries that are raised by study sponsors, and ensuring that proper record-keeping is maintained throughout the study. Data entry is how all of the relevant health information for a patient on a protocol is de-identified and relayed to the study sponsor.

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 have only been working in this position for 3 months now, and have already learned an enormous amount of information and medical terminology that will help me with my career ambitions moving forward. The physicians I work with on a daily basis are not only experts in their fields, but approachable and willing to teach us as much as we want to learn from them.

How did your Holy Cross education affect your career decisions?

My Holy Cross education exceptionally prepared me for this position because it taught me how to learn quickly, organize large loads of work, and form meaningful connections with people- all skills that I now use daily.

Meet Crusader Intern Laura Escolero ’19 at Generation Teach

January 17th, 2018 by eklamm

Tell us about where you are interning and the kind of work you are doing.

I am interning at an academic program for middle school students located in Boston and I specifically teach health and fitness.

What has surprised you about being an intern?

Working at Generation Teach has made me realize all of the training and skill building teachers have to go through in order to be able to teach during the school year. It has definitely shown me that teaching may be one of the most difficult jobs and it is a job where you never stop growing and adjusting your teaching to better reach out to students.

How did this experience influence or connect to your future career plans / goals?

This experience influenced my goal of working with children in an academic setting and has allowed me to realize what career path I want to follow.

Any internship advice to pass on to other Holy Cross students?

This internship had a lot of expectations and demanded long hours, which consisted of 9.5 hours daily and on some days of the week, programming was 12 hours long. My advice for Holy Cross students would be to expect to work long hours and have enough available time during the summer to devote to this internship.

 

Meet Crusader Intern Alisha Collazo ’18

January 17th, 2018 by eklamm

Sales Intern at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.

Tell us about where you are interning and the kind of work you are doing.

This summer I worked for Arthur J. Gallagher’s nine week sales-based internship program. Throughout the course of my internship I was able to travel from a week-long training in Chicago, to a client meeting in Manhattan. While stationed in Boston, I met with various carriers, shadowed on conference calls, and sat in on several presentations discussing all four divisions the company has to offer.

Give us an example of how you have applied your academic learnings to your internship?

A concept that was stressed to us during our internship was relationship-building and critical thinking, whether it be establishing a relationship with a prospective client or networking with fellow employees at our company. Through our courses and extracurricular activities, we were taught to be critical thinkers as well as “men and women for others.” Nonetheless, networking and relationship building were not difficult for me when beginning the program as I have already learned through our Jesuit education how to establish meaningful relationships with others. Throughout all of our courses, especially in my math courses, we are always told to “ask more,” while being pushed to think outside the box. This became a key asset to me in terms of critical and analytical thinking as I began to understand both the various plans our carriers offer and how to find the best plan at the best price for our clients.

What has surprised you about being an intern?

Definitely how hands-on my experience has been. For example, on my first client meeting I did not just shadow or take notes, but was given a speaking role at the presentation.

How did this experience influence or connect to your future career plans / goals?

This experience greatly influenced my career goals. Throughout the program we have been given exposure to insurance, risk management services, and sales. Before beginning the program I had no idea what I wanted to do post-graduation; however, now I can say sales is definitely at the top of my list.

Any internship advice to pass on to other Holy Cross students?

Be a sponge and take everything in and definitely network. This is an opportunity to have a first-hand experience in a career you are considering or a chance to learn about a career you have never considered. Network with everyone! You never know who you are going to run into again or who may be able to help you in the future. We had an example of an intern who decided the job really wasn’t for her and wanted to pursue marketing. The following year, the company was establishing a marketing division and she was hired through the connections she maintained!

Meet Alumna Samantha Moor, Associate Manager, Global Merchandising Outlet Handbags at Coach

January 17th, 2018 by msweeney

Name: Samantha Moor

Class Year: 2015

Title: Associate Manager, Global Merchandising Outlet Handbags

Organization Name: Coach

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

Creating seasonal line assortments through a strategic and creative lens & collaborating closely with cross functional partners.

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 always interested in fashion & the arts but I am also a very analytical and business orientated person so I wasn’t quite sure what industry I wanted to go into. While looking for internships for my rising senior year summer and talking to previous HC interns as well as alums in the industry, I applied to the Coach internship through the Holy Cross Summer Internship Program. I was studying abroad at the time so it felt harder being so disconnected to figure out my first step in my career path. Merchandising seemed like a good fit as the job is both creative and analytical and I was offered the Coach internship position. I had a great experience and worked with a great team. They asked me to come back and help during my Winter break and then offered me a full time position at the end of senior year.

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

I was involved in several clubs such as Spud, Business Program, HC for a Cure. I also interned for O’Keefe Investment management, a financial planning firm started by an HC alum in Worcester, during my senior year.

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

I majored in Economics and minored in Art history. I think both of them combined is very applicable to merchandising – both business/strategic and creative. Economics especially is relatable to every industry so studying economics allowed me to explore other options before choosing fashion.

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

Work ethic!

What advice do you have for students on campus today?

My advice for job/intern searching would be to do as much research as you can – both on the company and talking to people about their careers and experiences.  Holy Cross has an amazing network of alums and a great career service center so just take advantage of all the resources available! Other advice is work hard, stay positive, and make sure you’re doing something you’re passionate about!