Meet Alum Neema Hakim ’14, Editor-in-Chief at Chicago Journal of International Law

Name: Neema Hakim

Class Year: 2014

Title: Editor-in-Chief

Organization Name: Chicago Journal of International Law

 

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

I manage the Chicago Journal of International Law, a student-edited publication at the University of Chicago Law School which features international law scholarship.

 

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 introduced to my first employer through the Washington Semester Program in 2013. During the spring semester of my junior year, I had the honor of interning at the Obama White House in the Office of Communications. I had no prior connections to Washington, DC or to the Administration. I just took a chance and applied online, driven by an earnest passion for public service. A year after my internship, I was offered a full-time job in the same office.

 

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

On campus, I participated in the Student Government Association as an intern, co-director of communications, and co-president. As co-president, I worked with peers at other local colleges and universities to found the Worcester Student Government Association.

 

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

At Holy Cross, I double majored in political science and philosophy. Political science familiarized me with our government institutions, while philosophy taught me to think creatively. That foundation allowed me to keep up in the crucible of the White House and to later serve as Assistant Press Secretary at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. My undergraduate studies also prepared me for law school, where I often call upon my understanding of policy and theory to think through legal problems.

 

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

At bottom, a liberal arts education at Holy Cross taught me to think critically. As Editor-in-Chief of the Chicago Journal of International Law, I need to understand how to identify strengths and weaknesses in legal argument and to recognize top international law scholarship. I also have to manage 43 editors and staff members. The tendency to take nothing for granted, cultivated at Holy Cross, permits me to fairly critique the work of others and offer productive feedback, both to scholars and to my colleagues.

 

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

Whatever you choose as your major and whatever career you pursue, remain open to being wrong. The right answer is rarely simple and often nuanced. Embrace that complexity. Challenge your peers, professors, and superiors, but do so respectfully and for the truth, not ego.

Meet Alum Jeff Godowski ’13, Assistant Dean at Flora Rose House, Cornell University

Name: Jeff Godowski 

Class Year: 2013

Title: Assistant Dean

Organization Name: Flora Rose House, Cornell University

 

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

Jeff supports the educational mission of Flora Rose House, a residential college at Cornell University, through the supervision of professional, graduate, and undergraduate staff and the administration of the Rose Scholars program.

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 Holy Cross, I went on to receive my Master of Education degree from the University of Vermont in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration. My involvement during my undergraduate experience at HC, and the mentors that guided me, greatly influenced my career path and prepared me for my future career. My first full-time job after graduate school was as a Residence Hall Coordinator at Saint Louis University, another Jesuit institution in St. Louis, Missouri. The mission and identity of Jesuit education was an important factor in the decision process of accepting that role, and it was that connection to my students that really sustained me during those years at SLU, even through some pretty trying times.

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

At Holy Cross, I was an RA and then Student Resident Director for Residence Life and Housing and various intern roles for the Office of Student Involvement; I served as Co-Chair and Senior Advisor for ABiGaLe/Allies (now Pride) and Director of Student Life for SGA. I also worked in the Classics Department and Kimball Dining and was involved in theatre, Schola Cantorum, SPUD and retreats for periods of time over the four years.

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

Classics with Minors in Art History and Italian. While not directly applied in my current career, they still heavily influence some of my personal passion areas outside of work. I did have a difficult decision to make my senior year of whether to pursue my academic interests through an opportunity I had to receive the English Teach Assistant grant in Italy from Fulbright. Through a very intentional period of Ignatian discernment in the spring of my Senior year, I decided to pursue my current career by attending my graduate program instead of the Fulbright program. While this might have been a controversial personal decision at the time, seven years later I still think I made the right choice.

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

The high levels of autonomy and creative direction I had through my student leadership roles at HC really helped to fast-track my career and helped me stand out among peers in my first few roles after graduation. I also learned a lot of critical thinking skills that continue to help me in responding to crises and long term strategic planning in a university context. Also, because my current role has high levels of collaboration with faculty, my liberal arts education helped me in forming relationships and increasing partnerships across academic affairs and student affairs.

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

 Look for your mentors and build those relationships. Whether they are a professor, staff member, alum, or an upperclassmen peer mentor, those relationships will be helpful as you are choosing your own path of discernment for life after college. Since most of you are engaging in remote study right now, make that outreach intentional and set up some time to chat with your mentors over zoom and sustain those relationships.

Meet Alumna Regan McCooey ’16, Senior Software Engineer at EverQuote

Name: Regan McCooey

Class Year: 2016

Title: Senior Software Engineer

Organization: EverQuote

 

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

I design and implement backend services that facilitate the auction and distribution mechanics of EverQuote’s insurance marketplace.

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?  

After my sophomore and junior years at Holy Cross, I interned at a bank as a software engineer. Originally, I thought I would end up working there; however, after my second summer, I realized that software engineering in finance wasn’t the right fit for me. I began to look into software engineering roles at larger tech companies. My family friend suggested that I apply to TripAdvisor. I interviewed in October of my senior year and was offered the job. I knew it was a good fit because the people seemed very nice and the culture was exactly what I was looking for. I also wanted to do more consumer facing software that would impact real people rather than just writing programs for the back office of a bank.

I spent 3 years as a Software Engineer at TripAdvisor. I learned more than I could ever imagine and my technical skills grew exponentially. I still loved coding and solving complex problems so I knew software was the right path for me, for now. After a few years at TripAdvisor I wasn’t feeling as challenged as I wanted to be so I started to look for a new job. One of my old colleagues from TripAdvisor messaged me and asked if I was ready for a change, and referred me to EverQuote. I ended up interviewing at EverQuote and a few other places. What made me choose EverQuote was the people seemed awesome and there seemed like a lot of opportunity to grow from a technical and a leadership perspective

I started at EverQuote at the end of March. It’s been great so far! It’s definitely been a challenge remotely onboarding and learning everything without being face to face with your teammates but I’m learning a ton and I know it was the right move for me.

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

I played varsity golf for two years and was on the ski team. I participated in Big Brothers Big Sisters as a mentor, acted as an officer for the Math and CS Club, and was a teaching assistant for computer science.

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

I majored in computer science. The classes I took at Holy Cross inspired my love of programming, and helped me decide to pursue a career as a software engineer. When I took Compiler Construction, an upper level project course that involved a lot of programming, I knew that I wanted to be a software engineer.

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

Besides teaching me how to program, Holy Cross taught me to adapt and to teach myself the skills necessary to solve the new problems I encounter every day. The software industry is very fast paced. Things are constantly changing and you are expected to adapt and learn fast. Working in the industry is also very different from programming at school. Nevertheless, the various projects I completed in my computer science courses challenged me to face the problems in front of me head-on and to find creative solutions. My Holy Cross experience gave me the confidence to take on the new challenges I face every day as a software engineer.

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

I would tell current students that they should never feel unqualified or unable to do a job because they don’t have all of the qualifications listed on a job advertisement. Job postings usually have an intimidating list of qualifications, especially in the software industry. If a student meets even one of those qualifications, they should apply for the job. Holy Cross students should always feel confident that they will be able to learn the specific technology required on the job. Prior to starting at TripAdvisor in 2016 and EverQuote this year, I barely knew the programming languages I use everyday. Also I barely knew how to deploy a service using Amazon Web Services, but I figured it out and was able to help create a deployment pipeline for my team. It’s not about what you know or don’t know now, it’s about how you can adapt yourself to learn what you need to know to succeed.

Meet Krunal Patel ’06, Academic Gastroenterologist

Name: Krunal Patel

Class Year: 2006

Title: Academic gastroenterologist and Associate program director for our fellowship training program

Organization: UMass Medical School

 

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

As an academic gastroenterologist and an associate program director for our fellowship training program, I help diagnose and manage various gastrointestinal, hepatic, pancreatic and biliary disorders in an inpatient and outpatient patient-care setting, and help with various issues involved with the training of our general GI fellows.

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?  

I attended UMass Medical School after Holy Cross.  Both are in Worcester so the proximity helped me get to know the school better.  It ended up being my first choice and I was glad to gave gotten in (although as we tell applicants, I would have been happy to get in anywhere).  Ever since I figured out that I wanted to be a physician, I always envisioned staying in this area.  I am from Massachusetts and wanted to practice in the state.  I ended up completing all my training at UMass Medical School – that includes 4 years of medical school, 3 years of Internal Medicine Residency, 1 year of Medicine Chief Residency and 3 years of Gastroenterology Fellowship – two years ago and ended up staying on at UMass as faculty.  My job allows me to interact with patients in the outpatient and inpatient setting, work with my hands as I perform invasive procedures, and work with trainees at all levels, from the medical students to residents to fellows.  It is a good balance and a great way for me to start a career.

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

I tried to get involved with a lot of things, and seemingly unrelated things.  I worked with the theater crew as part of the lighting and stage crew, learned sailing on Lake Quinsig, volunteered with SPUD, was a leader with multiple retreats run by Campion House, was a member of multiple multicultural groups, and a bunch more.  I would advise all students to just be curious and learn and do as many things as they can; it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to be at a place like Holy Cross so might as well take advantage of it.

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

I came in undeclared as a freshman.  By sophomore year, I had declared as a Biology Major with a Pre-med Concentration.  We started studying for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) during my junior year and by then, I was sure I would be applying for medical school.

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

Life as a science major was busier than for most.  This helped develop a strong work ethic, ability to think critically and stay disciplined, which have certainly come in good use.  Some key skills, and this is true for most occupations, are the ability to get organized, multi-task and be resourceful.

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

I would say that the field of medicine is rewarding, but also competitive.  I would encourage everyone to pursue a liberal arts experience and try to maximize experiences in the classroom and outside.  Take courses that have nothing to do with your major, join organizations that may be different, get involved with service opportunities, learn a language.  I could not emphasize enough how these kinds of chances will never come by again.  But, in all this, you have to stay focused.  If you want to go to med school, or any other graduate program or training program, you will have to meet certain criteria.  So you have to know the requirements, stick to a schedule and keep your eye on your goal.

 

 

 

Meet Alum Joe Darcy ’11, Principal at IDEA Fund Partners

Name: Joe Darcy

Class Year: 2011

Title: Principal

Organization Name: IDEA Fund Partners

 

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

I am a Venture Capitalist, meaning that I meet with entrepreneurs from around the country to hear their pitches and help my team evaluate which companies to invest in through buying a small percentage of the business in exchange for cash.

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

At HC I played Club Hockey for 4 years along, served as an RA for 3 years, and participated in the Summer Business Program. I even played in a small band that performed at 10 Spot and Battle of the Bands!  

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

I studied Economics with a German Minor while at Holy Cross. I knew I was fascinated by how markets worked, and enjoyed the complexities of economics – blending so many different factors together, and impacting every corner of the business world (and broader society). As a VC, the most important factors we look for in a business is a large, growing market with a robust, comprehensive team – all things very complementary to the topics learned at HC.

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

The two skills I developed at HC which I use on a daily basis are thinking entrepreneurially and leveraging my network. With the Club Hockey team, we were on the brink of collapse, so I came in as a Sophomore and took over leadership of the Club. Creatively solving problems is an invaluable skill regardless of career path. In terms of leveraging my network, the beauty of HC is the tight knit community you develop on The Hill, and this culture of “Giving First” is in the DNA of the startup community as well.

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

Never lose your intellectual curiosity, and start networking early. The Holy Cross network is incredibly powerful, and nearly any HC alum will have a coffee chat with you. Be inquisitive, ask more than you speak, and always look to further your learning. Happy to chat with any of you!

Meet Alumna Kara Cuzzone ’19, Assistant Commerce Editor

Name: Kara Cuzzone

Class Year: 2019

Title: Assistant Commerce Editor

Organization Name: PureWow

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

I write shoppable articles for PureWow’s beauty, wellness, fashion and home verticals.

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?  

Late into my sophomore year, I decided to change my plan to go abroad to Italy and applied to the NYC Semester Program instead. That was the first major step towards my career today, because I got to intern at Cosmopolitan and Seventeen magazines and get a feel for whether I’d really like working in women’s media. Spoiler alert: I did. Through the semester program, I met a wonderful HC alumna who connected me with a summer internship at Byrdie (yes, the alumni network is as great as everyone says). That gave me some really valuable experience in writing shopping content which helped me to land my role at PureWow. But first, I had to discover PureWow, which is all thanks to Isabelle Jenkins, associate director of the Donelan Office for Community Based Learning. She was (and continues to be) a great mentor to me, and was able to connect me with a friend of hers who had worked at PureWow a couple of years prior. That connection helped me to get my foot in the door rather than just cold applying to the assistant commerce editor role I’m in today.

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

 During my time at Holy Cross, I was a CBL intern, fall orientation leader, a member of Best Buddies, and a co-chair of Peace of Mind, an organization aimed at promoting mental wellness and self-care practices on campus that I founded during my sophomore year.

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

 I was an Anthropology major. Through my Anthropology courses, I realized that I really enjoy learning a little bit about a lot of different topics. Within the discipline, you can study everything from the cultural impacts of social media in America to how interior design impacts people’s sense of self in Vietnam. As an editor, I get to feed that interest by constantly researching new topics for articles. Anthropological field work also involves interviewing people, which I came to really enjoy. In my job, I’m able to interview experts, so it has a similar feel.

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

 One skill that I developed at Holy Cross is the ability to build strong professional relationships. Through my experiences as a CBL intern, as well as just interacting with professors and attending office hours, I learned the importance of finding mentors and how to collaborate with those in leadership roles. In my work, I’m conscious about reaching out to editors who are more experienced for mentorship and advice, which has been really valuable. I’m better able to advocate for myself at work and interact with folks regardless of their position in the workplace hierarchy because Holy Cross gave me the tools to do so.

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

My advice for current HC students is don’t be afraid to change paths. Some of the best decisions I made during my time at Holy Cross were last minute pivots, like deciding to do the NYC Semester Program instead of going abroad, or majoring in Anthropology instead of Psychology. I think the key is to follow what truly interests you rather than doing what you feel you “should” do. You don’t have to stick with something just because it’s what you wanted your freshman year. You’ll change throughout your four years, so it’s totally natural that your plans will change too.

Meet Alumna Ariel Baker ’18, Program Manager, New England Blacks in Philanthropy

Name: Ariel Baker

Class Year: 2018

Title: Program Manager

Organization Name: New England Blacks in Philanthropy

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

Creating a narrative shift in the way that the Black community and Black wealth is seen inter-communally and at large.

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 connected to my current employer by a Holy Cross alum Jerome Daye ‘08, who is a mentor of one of my close friends that I also met a Holy across. I decided this role was for me because I knew it was a fantastic starting point in my career and a way for me to explore numerous fields that interested just by the very nature of the position. My organization is a bit of a start up, so I have been deeply entrenched in the operations of the organization as well as the more “client facing” aspects, such as events, networking on behalf of the org etc. I have been able to learn what experiences I enjoy and don’t, in order to continue shaping what exactly I would like my career trajectory to look like. 

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

Rhythm Nation Step Team

MPE

Inter House Council
Work Study

Study Abroad 

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


Sociology. I have always been a “systems“ and “theory” person and understanding society from a sociological lens was just a natural fit for me. I am obviously extremely passionate about the way the Black community in particular functions in American society and when I had the chance to work for an organization with a mission like ours as well as to work for and be mentored by a Black woman this early in my career I jumped on the opportunity. 

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

1) Be firm in your approach but never to the point where you are difficult to work with. No one likes a know it all and as a new graduate you have to understand that you will not know much of anything actually. Approach all opportunities with an open mind but also with the confidence that graduating from an institution like Holy Cross has provided you. 

2) Never stop learning. There will always be something that you don’t know. 

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

Try everything at least once. If you have your eye set on one career path I encourage you to try the complete opposite (ex: hard sciences try something more creative and vice versa), just for the experience. You really never know what is out there for you so don’t limit yourself especially right now when you have so much support from Holy Cross.

Meet Alumna Melissa Cummings ’92, EVP and Chief Customer Officer

Name: Melissa Cummings

Class Year: 1992

Title: EVP and Chief Customer Officer

Organization Name: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island

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

Lead the company’s business lines, responsible for growth and retention overseeing sales, account management, product development, marketing and brand, digital assets, operations, customer service and our retail footprint. 

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 answered a job ad in the newsletter the HC Career Placement Office sent to new graduates for a job in NYC at a healthcare public relations firm. The hiring manager was a Holy Cross alum and she could attest to the value of the Holy Cross curriculum relative to thinking critically, writing effectively, considering alternatives and communicating with meaning.  We connected right away given our shared experience and preparation.  Public Relations was a great initial exposure to job that required strong writing, strong communication and creative skills My client base was an array of pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device companies and my “clients” were product managers in those firms, most of whom had a MBA.  I knew I could give better counsel to my clients if I had a richer appreciation of all the levers a product manager considered, beyond just public relations, so I attended business school and chose a degree specializing in healthcare management, which at the time was a newer and growing MBA discipline.  I went on to join a for profit health insurer in a MBA leadership development program designed to train general managers.  The notion of being a general manager is a theme I have carried throughout my career as I have had a wide array of varying leadership roles across the health insurer landscape.

My mom shaped my health interest – she was a nurse who left her career to raise kids and later returned to graduate school to receive her Master’s in Social Work and to this day is a private practice psychotherapist.  My dad shaped my business interest – he was a talented sales executive who later started his own business in the data communications space, his entrepreneurial spirit is a strong force for me. My work at UMass Medical Center while at Holy Cross in a community advocate role that I obtained because of a student run health and wellness program I was part of shaped my first exposure to recognizing the power of delivering health with care.

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

I was a Resident Assistant, an Admissions ambassador, a peer minister, I worked as a server in the “Kimball Café” (is this even a thing anymore?  Faculty and staff ate in a café in lower Kimball) and a member of a student run nutrition and wellness organization.

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

I was a Psychology major after trying out Political Science and Economics.  The healthcare/business combination was clearly in me even then! 

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

Critical thinking and curiosity as well as doing what is best for others and the community in which you live are two things that Holy Cross emphasized.  I am a learner at heart and Holy Cross fueled that for me.  I ask questions and am naturally curious and encourage that in those I work with on my team.  My interest in joining a not for profit insurer like Blue Cross is rooted in my appreciation of and commitment to giving back to the community, a core part of my experience at Holy Cross. 

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

Take as many different classes as you can – spark your curiosity.  Find a way to give back to your student community or to the community at large by getting involved in something. Network.  Use the alumni resources the College has to offer to explore different career options, graduate school choices, fields of interest, whatever it may be.  No one ever said “no” to a networking request and it takes little preparation on the part of the person being asked.  It’s a great way to learn about pathways and the twists and turns each career typically includes and it often leads to additional networking introductions.

Meet Alum Peter McStravick ’13, Director – Global Digital Business

Name: Peter McStravick

Class Year: 2013

Title: Director – Global Digital Business, Partner Development

Organization Name: Sony Music Entertainment

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

In my role, we manage the global business relationship with music streaming companies and identify digital strategies to grow engagement with our labels’ content.

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 got my first job at a boutique marketing agency through the Liberal Arts Career Network (LACN). I really enjoyed that problem solving nature of marketing strategy but was more interested in music and film.

And it was through another HC alum that I was first connected to the music industry. The career office put us in touch my senior year and over time led to the introduction of several other music and tech folks. Networking really helped me get a grasp of some of the industry levers, key questions, and the necessary skill set to navigate the space. With the music streaming boom, analytics became an increasingly important piece so I focused on developing this during grad school and internships.

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

 WCHC 88.1, Campus Ministry (i.e. retreats, Spring Break Immersion), The Crusader (student paper), Gateways Orientation, Battle of the Bands

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

Music and Economics. Pretty straightforward!

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

It may sound simple but writing. 

A lot of my work today involves communicating analytical insights to people with limited technical knowledge. I really learned to shape my voice writing countless papers at Holy Cross – even in technical courses in economics and music theory. I think this challenged me back then and helped me get my thoughts/points across more effectively.

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

Two things: Make sure you focus on developing macro skills that will make you successful regardless of where you end up – these will carry you through your career. And then separately, build a plan around acquiring specific skills you need for the avenues you’re specifically interested in.

Meet Alum Jack Kenney ’16, Associate at SV Health Investors

Name: Jack Kenney

Class Year: 2016

Title: Associate

Organization Name: SV Health Investors

 

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

I help form, fund, and guide companies that make cutting-edge medicines.

 

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 connected with my first employer after Holy Cross  (ClearView Healthcare Partners) by reaching out to an alumnus, Rich Mynahan ’93, to learn more about his career.

 

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

Men’s Varsity Ice Hockey and StEP, a non-profit founded by Jake Medina ’16.

 

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

Chemistry and Economics, which helped build the foundation of my interest in finding a way to blend business and science throughout my career.

 

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

The critical thinking and writing skills that I was able to hone at Holy Cross through a Liberal Arts education are some of the most important tools that I use on a daily basis in my career.

 

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

Use the scientific method to reflect on and build your career: be constantly generating hypotheses regarding how you’d like to shape your career, test that hypothesis through reaching out and asking alumni questions, working to secure summer internships, or finding ways to work part-time during the semester, and refine your hypothesis as you go. Once you’re highly confident you’re interested in or passionate about something, double-down and dive deep.