Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Meet Alum Ron Zuvich ’07, Senior Vice President at Emet Capital Management, LLC

November 5th, 2018 by aclauson

Meet Alum Ron Zuvich ’07, Senior Vice President at Emet Capital Management, LLC

 

Name:  Ron Zuvich

Class Year: 2007

Title: Senior Vice President

Organization Name: Emet Capital Management

 

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

My main responsibility is to acquire distressed housing assets which qualify for tax-exempt municipal bond financing in the sectors of affordable housing, student housing, and senior housing.

 

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 attended several financial services networking events on campus and made a concerted effort to network with alumni in financial services. I had several family members in the financial services field and relied on their experience and guidance as well. I also attended an interviewing workshop and went on as many interviews for relevant jobs as I could.  The ability to act with confidence throughout an interview is a critical skill that does not come easy to some but can be developed with practice.

 

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

Spring Break entrepreneurship program (would highly recommend), club soccer, intramural basketball, working as an accounting tutor.

 

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

I was an Economics/Accounting major and felt it provided me with a core base of knowledge that would open up several potential paths in the world of financial services (Capital Markets, Asset Management, Investment Banking). I knew from my coursework that working for a Big 4 Accounting firm was personally not for me, so I began networking and applying to jobs primarily at major banks in Capital Markets and Investment Banking. Through some contacts developed at Citi, I obtained my first job working as a capital markets analyst for Citi in 2007.

 

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

Writing and critical thinking – it is not essential, in my opinion, to have a degree in Finance or a business-related major in order to procure a job in the Financial Services industry. I spend much of my time writing detailed credit memos which require performing significant research, identifying investment risks, and thinking outside the box. This is the value of a liberal arts education – always thinking of ways to challenge the status quo and adding value by bringing a fresh approach to old ideas.

 

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

Networking is more important than ever in today’s world – have coffee, a quick call, or lunch with alumni in the field of your choice as often as you can, even if there is no immediate job prospect from such a contact. Be active on the good forms of social media (LinkedIn) and mindful of your presence on other forms of social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.). Don’t be afraid to ask your contacts for help – most people are far more receptive than you might expect.

Meet Erin Dennehy ’19, Interned at Worcester Regional Environmental Council and Community Harvest Project

November 5th, 2018 by aclauson

Meet Erin Dennehy ’19, Interned at Worcester Regional Environmental Council & Community Harvest Project

 

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

I have held two academic internships at the Worcester Regional Environmental Council and Community Harvest Project through the Academic Internship Program here on campus. Both organizations are local environmental non-profits that grow fresh, local food for low-income individuals and families within Worcester County. CHP is a non-profit farm in North Grafton, MA and the REC is an environmental advocacy group with a small farm in Main South that also trains Worcester youth in organic, urban agriculture. At the REC, I was a Greenhouse and Urban Farm intern with tasks that ranged from planting and raising seedlings, managing student volunteers, stuffing envelopes for mailing lists, and maintaining the organization’s two college greenhouses at Holy Cross and WPI. At Community Harvest, I was a Executive Director and Non-Profit Intern, which meant I wore many hats; some weeks I was harvesting cabbages with machetes alongside volunteers, other weeks I was planning events, writing grants, and drafting volunteer recruitment resources. I also met weekly with the Executive Director for “executive sessions,” during which we would discuss a different aspect of non-profit, executive leadership.

 

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

Writing skills were essential at Community Harvest Project in particular, especially when writing grants for several thousands of dollars. I also drew from my understanding of urban agriculture during both internships, which I gained through Environmental Studies courses like Sustainable Development and Resource Management, as well as Sociology classes like Cities & the Environment.

 

3. What has surprised you about being an intern?

I’m much better with a machete than I thought I would be! In all seriousness, both internships were physically demanding (since both were centered around urban agriculture). I found that I was much stronger than I previously gave myself credit for, and am able to keep up with the rest of the volunteers in the field during harvesting and crop maintenance! As a kid, I always wanted to be a farmer, so I’m glad I pushed myself to experience growing food for myself and my community despite fear of not being strong enough to do so!

 

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

I learned that the small non-profit sector isn’t my cup of tea (I’m looking towards larger scale non-profit or for-profit environmental organizations); that being said, I gained a number of key skills from both internships, and wouldn’t change anything about the experiences I had there! After all, I never would have learned that non-profits aren’t for me if I hadn’t first entered the local non-profit world. Not to mention, I’m now a skilled gardener, grant writer, volunteer manager, event planner, envelope-stuffer, and machete-wielder!

 

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

Don’t be afraid to reach out to organizations that aren’t advertising internship positions! In the case of Community Harvest Project, I just shot them an email with a cover letter and a resume, despite their lack of internship postings. I explained my motivations and conveyed how eager I was to learn about what they do in the community and assist them where I can. Before I knew it,

 

I had a phone interview and then a semester-long internship made just for me! The reality is that many organizations, especially small non-profits, would love the opportunity to host student interns! So even if there isn’t an internship being advertised within your organization of choice, don’t be discouraged! Reach out to them–there’s a good chance they’ll find work for you to do, and even create a new position for you to fill! Worst case scenario, they’ll just say no, and the search will continue 🙂

Meet Alum Matt Surabian ’07, Senior Infrastructure Engineer at Zipcar

October 31st, 2018 by aclauson

Meet Alum Matt Surabian ’07, Senior Infrastructure Engineer at Zipcar

 

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

I create systems, write software, and maintain open source tooling that helps ensure Zipcar’s new technology platform is always able to deliver an awesome experience to our members no matter how many of them are using the service at the same time.

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

On campus I was most active in Residence Life as an RA and HRA of Clark (the best dorm). I also tutored students through the math department, helped out in ITS as an RCC, and worked in the art department as a dark room tech.

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

I came to Holy Cross as a mathematics and theater double major interested in working at the NSA. While researching an NSA summer internship I had a change of heart and ended up a computer science major interested in security and encryption.

Even though I didn’t finish my math major, I took most of the required courses and that foundation has helped me reason about complex algorithms, distributed systems, and the underpinnings of various encryption methods. My sophomore year I spent the summer doing research in the Math Department with Professor Hwang writing ray tracing software for modeling equations in 3D. That experience was one of the first times I wrote code to help solve a non-trivial problem and it really cemented for me that I wanted to be a programmer.
 
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 started at Holy Cross, Computer Science was still a new major and there weren’t many alumni connections in the field. I used what little I knew to hustle programming work on the side to try and improve my resume. My work in the art department and interest in photography unexpectedly connected me with someone who worked at Bose. We were talking one day and he casually mentioned some difficulties they were having trying to find someone to write a piece of mapping software his team needed. I offered to help and the next thing I knew I was a freelance programmer for Bose’s live music division.
I used this initial “break” in the industry as a stepping stone to get more freelance work at a local startup (MySeniorCenter) going into my senior year. By graduation I had a full-time job lined up at a local creative agency (CGI Interactive) where I was exposed to a lot of different companies, technologies, and technical challenges. I really loved the work and I spent almost 5 years there before leaving to join a team that was maintaining the software behind lots of high traffic websites like TMZ and NewsCorp. If it weren’t for the breadth of experience I gained working at my first post college employer I wouldn’t have known the job I have today even existed. I knew working on high traffic systems was a good fit for me because it seemed to scare people, I loved it, and my laid back vibes seemed to help put my colleagues at ease.
What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

For all its glamour the tech industry is infamous for some toxic cultural issues. I’ve been fortunate to work directly for companies that have been welcoming, inclusive, and supportive, but as a consultant I witnessed toxic tech culture first hand a few times. The culture of “men and women for others” at Holy Cross helped make me a more mindful person than I was when I first arrived on Mount St. James and gave me the tools to productively talk about social issues. I feel this has helped me be a better colleague, leader, and agent for change in an industry that has serious social challenges. I’m by no means at the forefront of this effort, and still have a lot to learn; but I absolutely credit Holy Cross for making me more prepared to take part.

I also think the way Holy Cross encourages students to explore a wide range of subjects and not simply focus on their major has helped me bring a more well rounded perspective to technical challenges. A former boss once said that I was able to, “take the often abstract concepts of programming and interpret it into a vocabulary business staff can understand”, I believe the liberal arts foundation provided by Holy Cross honed that skill.

Meet Alum Ajit Bhullar ’18, Intern with Public Citizen

October 31st, 2018 by aclauson

Meet Alum Ajit Bhullar ’18, Intern with Public Citizen

 

Name: Ajit Bhullar

Class Year: 2018

Current Title/Employer: Intern with Public Citizen

 

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

In a time when our democratic process is being undermined now more than ever before, my role with Public Citizen primarily entails serving as a voice for the people through such means as organizing campaigns and grassroots movements.

What if any, unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross?   

Reflecting on what it was I wanted to be doing that could be meaningful is what led to me wanting to enter this line of political work. I genuinely took the time to evaluate what it was that I wanted to do with myself to help establish a more positive impact on our society, which now more than ever is so important as we face a time of extreme divisiveness in politics. Ultimately, my drive to want to work towards this helped bring me to where I am now and paved the path on which I plan to continue.  

How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?

Knowing what my passions and interests were really helped make this decision easy. For me, it was never about simply having a job; but rather, I wanted to do something where I felt I was having an impact and helping bring about real change in our world today. I knew this think tank group in particular would be a good fit for me due to the fact that despite the ever changing dynamics of the political realm, Public Citizen remains focused and true to their mission statement of always working as an advocate for the people and for the well being of society. In today’s politics, you just do not see enough openness, honesty, and transparency and because of this, I knew Public Citizen was the group for me.

What were you involved in when you were on campus?  

I was a member of and captained the mock trial team, served as an Odyssey mentor, led a manresa retreat, volunteered with Working for Worcester, and studied abroad among various other activities during my time on the hill!

What was your major and how has it affected your career decisions?   

My major of philosophy had a profound impact on helping me pave my career path, as it taught me to always be in pursuit of knowledge and answers to some of the biggest challenges and fundamental questions we face in life. Philosophy as a major has had a positive effect on my decision to enter political work for this very reason. As part of my work, there is not simply a “one size fits all” solution to many of the issues, and because of this, it becomes important to truly and honestly evaluate everything and work towards getting to the root of the issue in order to handle and understand not only the problem itself but what then becomes necessary to fix the problem.

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

One important aspect I attribute to Holy Cross is understanding the importance of always being in the pursuit of justice and working for the well being of the community. Rooted in Jesuit values, acquiring this knowledge over the course of my Holy Cross education has only begun to manifest itself in the work I do. I hold this tradition in high regards when evaluating problems and seeking solutions to the various issues I am working on. Another important skill is to have a nice balance between both being confident and being humble. Learning to find the harmony amongst the two allows you to gain an honest understanding of not only your strengths, but also, on areas of yourself that can always be improved upon. This skill has been useful in my work as it has allowed me to not only be able to make a contribution from day one, but also, to sometimes sit back and understand a different perspective that I may otherwise have not realized. While I could go on for much longer about ways in which Holy Cross prepared me for the real world, I believe these are two important factors that Holy Cross helped instill in me which in turn allowed me to find and pursue my passions in life while also always seeking to gain a better understanding of the world around me.

Meet #CrusaderIntern Rachel Checo ’20, Sanctuary for Families

October 31st, 2018 by aclauson

Meet #CrusaderIntern Rachel Checo ’20, Sanctuary for Families

(Pictured second from the right)

 

Full Name: Rachel Checo ’20

Summer Internship: Sanctuary for Families

 

What were you up to this past summer?

This past summer, I interned at a nonprofit organization called Sanctuary for Families. This organization particularly helps survivors of violence, such as domestic violence, human trafficking, sex trafficking and violence within the LGBTQ community. I helped with updating the volunteer packet with information that are useful for future volunteers to know who would like to help the organization in any way that they can. I also helped with a few research projects in regards to violence, and helped set up for the Zero Tolerance event, an annual event that helps raise awareness on violence.

 

What was your favorite part?

My favorite part was being able to bond with other interns at Sanctuary for Families, and getting to know them personally. I enjoyed bonding with my coworkers and learning more about the important work Sanctuary for Family does.

 

What surprised you?

What surprised me was the amount of information I learned about violence in general. I learned a lot about what human trafficking is and how domestic violence not only affects the victims but their children as well. I also learned a great deal about teen dating violence and what are the signs of being in an healthy and unhealthy relationship.

Meet Alumna Lorena Sferlazza ’15, Artist / Educator at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)

October 31st, 2018 by aclauson

Meet Alumna Lorena Sferlazza ’15, Artist / Educator at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)

 

Name: Lorena Sferlazza

Class Year: 2015

Title: Artist, Educator

Organization Name: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)

Portfolio: www.lorenasferlazza.com, Instagram @lorenasferlazza https://www.instagram.com/lorenasferlazza/

 

In brief, what does your job entail?

I am a painter, photographer, and reflective thinker completing a Master of Fine Arts in May 2019 and assistant teaching at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in Philadelphia, our nation’s first art school and museum. Prior to PAFA, I worked at Sotheby’s in New York City for two years as a front-of-house financial administrator, facilitating the payment, collection, and shipment of artwork post-auction. On a personal note, I am a plant-based eater, runner, and continue to remotely assist fundraising efforts as a founding member for Kal-Pa-Vriksh “The Giving Tree” 501(c)3 Nonprofit, which benefits education for disadvantaged youth in India and the U.S. (http://www.kal-pa-vriksh.org/).

 

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?  

Over the summer after I graduated, a close friend from Holy Cross knew I was looking for work in the auction industry in New York City, because I had interned at an auction house while studying abroad for a year in Florence, Italy. She sent me the initial contact information, and five interviews later, I landed a job at Sotheby’s. I ended up working in two departments during my time there before realizing that the industry would not suit my long term career goals. I needed to get back into creating my own artwork and have meaningful conversations about the significance of art-making in today’s world. That is when I decided to honor my long-held dream of pursuing an MFA, the terminal degree in the Visual Arts required for teaching in higher education, which is ultimately what I’m looking to do. I’m very grateful for my experience at Sotheby’s, and it took a lot of courage for me to leave. Though with a scholarship to the Academy and a gut feeling it was the right decision, I moved to Philly last year for graduate school.

 

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

I was very involved on campus, in part because I had so many interests and also because I loved the community. Academically, I participated in the College Honors and Pre-Business programs, tutored Italian, and represented C.O.E.S. (Ciocca Office of Entrepreneurial Studies) and the Visual Arts department on their student advisory boards. I also served in HC’s faith-based gatherings as a liturgical coordinator, lector, R.C.I.A. mentor, worship leader for adoration, Taizé, and interfaith prayer, and participated in the many retreats, Spring Break Immersion trips, and freshly baked cookie binges that Campion had to offer. Recreationally, I enjoyed performing with friends at our acoustic 10Spot sets in Hogan, talking to prospective students as a tour guide and outreach coordinator for Admissions, cooking for the Italian department’s annual Pasta Olympics, dancing in the annual Noche Latina and UP 4 THE FIGHT Dance Marathons, and playing pick-up soccer games.

 

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

My critical study of language at Holy Crossvisual, spoken, and writtenserves as the root of my artistic practice. I graduated with a double major in Visual Arts (Studio) and Italian (Linguistics and Literature) from the College Honors Program, through which I completed an interdisciplinary thesis, Addressing the Wound: An Artistic Exploration of Human Pain. Several courses led me to this thesis, including Dr. Christopher Dustin’s Philosophy of Art, Dr. Mathew Schmalz’s Religion and Violence, visiting professor Rev. A. Maria Arul Raja’s Dalits: Theology of the Oppressed, and Prof. Cristi Rinklin’s Senior Studio Concentration Seminar. My research began a persistent inquiry for me on the relevance of art-making in healing after trauma, negotiating the past, recognizing our temporality, and building a sustainable world in the face of crisis. At its core, my understanding of art-making is both a meditative practice and socially engaged tool that provokes our most innate knowledge of who we are, through visceral language that words often fail to express. This purpose both excites and challenges my career as an artist.

 

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

Thinking critically and interdisciplinarily are the two most impactful skills I developed while at Holy Cross. Being an artist requires you to probe beyond yourself, from most intensely inwards to keenly outwards with an inquisitive mind. Why create the way you do? What is your purpose and relevance to contemporary justice issues? How can your craft improve technically and conceptually to better relay your intended message? In graduate school at PAFA, these are the questions we dissect the most, through our studio work, thesis writing, weekly faculty-student critiques, seminars, visiting artist lectures, teaching assistantship opportunities, and peer discussions over food after hours. These are the questions that I’m excited to continue examining through a teaching career in higher education.

 

What advice do you have for students on campus today?

Pursue your passions and forge your own path. Participate in activities that fulfill you, not to resume build, but to enrich your mind and friendships along the way. If you have the chance, study abroad. I grew the most during my time away. Be honest with and take care of yourself: you cannot pour from an empty cup. Savor every Cool Beans conversation, late night run around the track, snowstorm lock down and Kimball tray sledding excursion, roommate coffee breaks during all-nighters in the Dinand stacks, and extended office hours with professors who care, because your time on the hill is precious. Be excited for your journey!

Meet Alumna Kelly Garcia ’15, Special Education Teacher at Excel Academy Charter High School

October 15th, 2018 by aclauson

Meet Alumna Kelly Garcia ’15, Special Education Teacher at Excel Academy Charter High School

 

Name: Kelly Garcia

Class Year: 2015

Current Title/Employer:

  • Special Education Teacher at Excel Academy Charter High School – East Boston, MA
  • Vice Chairwoman of the Chelsea School Board – Chelsea, MA

Graduate Degrees (if applicable): Master’s in Education from Boston University

 

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

As a Special Education Teacher, my job entails the implementation of Individual Education Plans (IEP) for students with learning disabilities, such as, Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

(ADHD), and etc. and accommodating the curriculum so that they are successful in the classroom.

 

What if any, unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross?   

During my sophomore year, I went on a service trip to Dangriga, Belize where 12 other Holy Cross students volunteered at Holy Ghost, an elementary school. It was on this trip that I fell in love with working with children and discovered my passion for teaching. Then, I tutored at a local school in Worcester the remaining years at Holy Cross. When senior year came, I applied to Teach for America and got in! I am now in my third year of teaching and am also an elected official in my city. I serve as the District 7 School Board Member and Vice Chairwoman of the board in Chelsea, MA.

 

How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?

Giving back to my community and advocating for students in urban school districts is a passion I developed shortly after my years at Holy Cross. I am fortunate and eternally grateful I found my passion  and will continue finding innovative ways to improve my community.

 

What were you involved in when you were on campus?  

Pernet Family Health Services, Community Harvest Project, Pathfinder (Passport Program), Study Abroad (studied in Argentina for a semester), Multicultural Peer Educator, Teaching Assistant in Dangriga, Belize, CASA, BSU,  and LASO.

 

What was your major and how has it affected your career decisions?   

Majoring in Psychology allowed me to develop a deeper understanding of the differences that exist in our society, and taught me to accept everyone for who they are. Developing an acceptance of all differences and all personalities has truly benefited me in the classroom, and has made my job incredibly rewarding.

 

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

The importance of genuinely listening and the art of networking.

-Asking alumni for advice instead of a job

-Stepping out of your comfort zone and challenging the “norm” allows you to GROW! Don’t be afraid to go against what is socially accepted

Meet Alumna Michelle Schefter ’16, Graduate Scientist at AstraZeneca

October 12th, 2018 by aclauson

Meet Alumna Michelle Schefter ’16, Graduate Scientist at AstraZeneca

 

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

I participate in a rotational research program at AstraZeneca, where I choose three 8-month rotations in three different departments of pharmaceutical research.

 

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

I was a chemistry lab teaching assistant, as well as a student researcher in Professor Petty’s lab. I studied abroad at Trinity College Dublin for my junior year, where I participated in various activities. Upon my return, I avidly encouraged students, particularly in STEM, to consider studying abroad too. I was also a member of the club soccer team.

 

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

 I was a chemistry major, and I had a hard time deciding what to do with it. I liked the idea of many different career options, particularly in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, but I did not feel ready to commit to medical school or a PhD program. Overall, my degree in chemistry made me eligible for entry-level jobs in both of these fields, and it also showed employers that I was competent in problem solving and other quantitative skills that are important in any industry.

 

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?

A summer internship at a small biotechnology company opened my eyes to an industry that I had not known much about at the time. I later searched for full time positions at similar biotech and pharmaceutical companies until I eventually stumbled upon AstraZeneca’s program. It stood out for several reasons: I would get broad exposure to an industry I did not have much experience in, I would have an impact on active drug projects, and I would have the opportunity to participate in a professional development program. In other words, I saw an opportunity to learn a lot, expand my resume, and grow professionally.

 

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

While it is important to be a diligent scientist while working at a pharmaceutical company, it is just as important to have good ‘soft skills.’ Whether it was assigning group presentations for a class or sending students to the ACS conference in San Diego, Holy Cross provided several opportunities to develop presentation and interpersonal skills and ensured that I was not only a scientist, but also a well-rounded individual upon graduation. At work, I often use these same skills to present ideas to my colleagues and network with the wider scientific community, all of which contributes to being successful in my position.

Meet Alum Paul Endres ’18, Clinical Research Coordinator in Nephrology

October 12th, 2018 by aclauson

Meet Alum Paul Endres ’18, Clinical Research Coordinator in Nephrology

 

Name: Paul Endres

Class Year: 2018

Position: Clinical Research Coordinator in Nephrology

 

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

I work with physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital involved in research to recruit patients for research studies from the hospital, draw patient blood and collect other samples, process those samples, input data, and analyze it with physicians. 

 

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

On campus, I was involved in chemistry research in the Sculimbrene Lab, the chemistry student advisory committee, chemistry peer assisted learning program, STEM+E tutoring, spring break immersion, eEucharistic ministry, and ballroom dance.

 

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

I was a chemistry major with a concentration in biochemistry on the pre-health track. This affected my career decision because it showed me the importance of chemistry and biochemistry in medicine. My biochem classes especially inspired my career because often times we used medical cases to study different biochemical pathways. Biochemistry is a key foundation in medicine, and I often find myself reviewing pathways I learned at Holy Cross at work to understand what my patients are going through. 

 

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?

In a planned sense, I was connected to MGH through Crusader Connections. Senior year, I was always looking at every job posted and reaching out to as many alumni as I could. I had attended Healthcare, Medicine & Science Networking Night and spoke with a few clinical research coordinators about their jobs. What I loved about it was that each position was super unique! I decided this would be a good fit for me because of the variety of the work being done and the clinical experience I would gain. I actually even connected with another Holy Cross alumni in my lab currently who helped me get a foot in the door! I realized my current position would be a good fit when they told me that each day I have to be ready to be flexible. There is never a day where I will be doing the exact same thing as the last, and I enjoy the variety in what I do.

 

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

Definitely people skills for one! A Jesuit liberal arts education of educating the whole person is not just some slogan, by studying different areas it has helped me to connect with a variety of patients from different backgrounds. Additionally, my science classes taught me the data based problem solving skills that are used in medicine every day. My incredible professors instilled in me a skill to be able to look at a problem, and think of how to solve it with the data given.

 

 

Meet Alumna Lilse McKenna ’11, Founder of Lilse McKenna Inc.

October 12th, 2018 by aclauson

 

Meet Alumna Lilse McKenna ’11, Founder of Lilse McKenna Inc.

 

Name: Lilse Rodgers McKenna

Class Year: 2011

Title: Founder

Organization Name: Lilse McKenna Inc

 

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

As the founder of a residential interior design firm my job entails everything from reviewing architectural drawings and overseeing contractors, to drawing furniture plans, designing furniture and scheming rooms, to managing the orders, timelines, and installations for a project.

 

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?  

 

During my senior year at Holy Cross I had big plans to go to law school.  At the time I thought that it would be the most logical and practical fit for me, and I took the LSAT class offered at Holy Cross to prepare for the exam.  We were encouraged to take study breaks in between practice tests, and I found myself filling that time with interior design magazines like House Beautiful, Veranda, and Architectural Digest, and countless design blogs.

 

After taking the LSAT and starting to pull together my applications for law school I realized my heart wasn’t in it.  Since long before the LSAT I’d enjoyed reading about and discussing interior design with my grandmother, and she and my mother both believed I had shown some innate talent in decorating. My Mom had often suggested I pursue it as a career, but I had the impression that most successful designers had degrees in interior design or a lifestyle that enabled them to open a firm “for fun.”

 

After graduation I applied for jobs in advertising and marketing, but nothing really felt like the right fit.  In a moment of frustration with the job search process I googled the phone number for the office of my favorite interior designer at the time and asked if they needed an intern.  They asked how soon I could start.

 

Within the first week of the internship, I knew I’d found the right career fit for me in interior design.  Suddenly all of the knowledge I’d accumulated about interior design throughout my life, which I’d long thought was useless and just a hobby, had real value.  I also started to see the opportunity to put another interest of mine, business and entrepreneurship, to use.  I come from a family of entrepreneurs, and just as my knowledge of interior design had been somewhat subliminal, so too was my understanding of work and business through the lens of an entrepreneur.   Having an understanding of how entrepreneurs think and operate gave me a leg up as an intern, and later an employee, of small business owners.  I soon found out that neither a degree in design nor a large trust fund were necessary to start a successful interior design business.

 

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

I volunteered at Dismas House, was a club chair for the Comunications, Advertising & Marketing Club, and interned for the Public Affairs office.

 

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

I was an English major and I think my creative writing classes gave me some insight into how much I enjoyed creative work.  The time I spent working on the assignments for those classes flew by, even when the assignments were difficult.

 

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

While I was at Holy Cross I learned to be very disciplined about my time because I found that the school work load would sneak up on me if I wasn’t consistently setting aside time at the library.  In my industry it is very easy to be distracted by the creative part of the job and put the paperwork on the backburner.  Unfortunately that is probably the quickest way to go out of business, so in life as in school I try to set aside specific time dedicated to the paperwork.

 

What advice do you have for students on campus today?

Trust your instincts when it comes to your future.  Don’t force a career choice, or any choice for that matter, solely because it appears to be the most pragmatic.  If it doesn’t feel right it isn’t, and you should take the time to find what is right for you.  Also, pay attention to what interests you, even the things you think of as silly hobbies or the curiosities you take for granted.  Today more than ever there is value in being an expert in a specialized field, so why not take advantage of that?