Meet Alum Nicholas Harper ’18, Business Technology Analyst Fellow- Holy Cross Advancement

Name: Nicholas Harper

Class Year: 2018

Position:  Business Technology Analyst Fellow- Holy Cross Advancement

 

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

As a Business Analyst, I work with the HC Advancement department’s data for a variety of applications, such as analysis and reporting, to improve the efficiency of and generally help support the department.

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

During my time on campus, I played with the varsity baseball my freshman year and then club baseball my sophomore, junior and senior years.

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

I graduated Holy Cross with a double major in mathematics and economics. Economics pushed me towards pursuing a career in the financial services, which I fully intend to do after finishing my fellowship here at HC. Mathematics opened my eyes to the power of statistics and modeling data, which are hugely influential in decision-making. My majors both contributed to the development of critical thinking and detail-oriented problem solving, both of which should help immensely as I progress in my career.

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 meeting with Deb Paquette, she advised me to apply for the role in the Advancement department. Once I met and interviewed with a few people I knew that it was a place that I would have fun working at and would be able to develop a variety of skills at. Those feelings have been vindicated as I am having a great time here at HC and am learning so much that I know will be extremely helpful once I go to graduate school and in jobs after that.

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

The most important skill my Holy Cross education imparted on me is to be a sponge for information. Most of what I do in my work and what I hope to do in the future I learned on the job, so being able to pick up new topics, software, etc. for the particular job I am doing has been extremely helpful. While at Holy Cross I also learned to be confident in sharing my opinions or insights, something that I think a lot of people are afraid to do but which is necessary to be productive in any working environment. Being able to speak up and share my ideas, even if they are wrong, was critical for me in developing the confidence to present and stand behind my work.

 

Meet Alumna Nerelly Checo ’18, Teaching fellow at Nativity School of Worcester

Name: Nerelly Checo

Class Year: 2018

Current Title/Employer: Teaching fellow at Nativity School of Worcester

 

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

My job entails teaching 15 5th grade boys, living in a community of 7 additional fellows, coaching a sport and operating as an outreach coordinator.  

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

I wanted a job in which I can make a difference in the community. This school serves low income boys of color- a community that I myself relate to. Because I was given many opportunities that have helped me get to where I am today, I wanted to also have an impact in the lives of these boys. I knew that this job was something that I was capable of doing with great interest, yet also challenge me to help me grow.

What were you involved in when you were on campus?  

On campus, I served on the executive board of the Latin American Student Organization for 3 years. I was a mentor for the Peer Mentor program and a mentor and program coordinator for the Odyssey program. I worked in the Office of Student Involvement and in the Center for Career Development as a Marketing Peer Career Assistant. I also worked as a caller for the Phonathon and held the job of a Hogan student manager. Additionally, I studied abroad in Argentina for a semester.

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

I was a double major in Sociology and Psychology. As a result, it has allowed me to become passionate about issues that people are affected with daily, specifically related to social justice. I tend to look at career paths that will lead me to make a difference and change the issues that our world faces. In addition, whenever I interact with a student, I keep in mind the many different societal and psychological layers that go into their lives.

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 was being able to maintain strong, interpersonal relationships. My majors and involvement on campus required me to develop communication skills, both written and orally. In addition, I also developed the ability to juggle multiple responsibilities and meet deadlines. Being involved in many different things on campus prepared me for the array of things thrown at me at my job, often times unexpectedly.

Meet Pat Burpee ’17, Equity Sales Trader, KeyBanc Capital Markets

Name: Pat Burpee

Class Year: 2017

Title: Equity Sales Trader

Organization Name: KeyBanc Capital Markets

In one sentence, what does your job entail? 

I trade domestic stocks for hedge funds.

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 had a few job offers throughout my senior year but none felt like the right fit, so I actually graduated unemployed. I continued interviewing around the Boston area (where I’m from) and received another offer. I was ready to accept the new proposal, but in the middle of July a HC classmate mentioned an opening within KeyBanc’s Los Angeles office. I put all my eggs in one basket and went for it. I interviewed a handful of times with KeyBanc, and accepted an offer by early September. Essentially it was the perfect storm of events and I am fortunate it all worked out. I have been with KeyBanc since October ’17.

What were you involved in when you were on campus? 

Varsity Golf & Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC)

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

Economics; I wanted to work in finance after college and figured the economics major provided the best route to ensure employment within that industry.

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

Definitely the ability to quickly digest and discern information. HC is not an easy school and there are nights when you are overwhelmed with work. Similarly, there are times during the work day when the stock market is hectic and volatile. Being able to decide what details are important and what items are extraneous is critical when talking to clients. I guess I honed those skills with four years of practice in Dinand.

 What advice do you have for students on campus today? 

A lot of my friends graduated with job security, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t freaking out come May. If you’re one of those individuals who’s still looking for a job come the spring or summer, just know that it’ll all work out. I recommend using the HC alumni network as much as possible. I have never encountered an alum who didn’t have 5 minutes to spare for a fellow Crusader.

Meet Alumna, Sarah Jensen ’08, Director Ad Sales- Crown Media Family Networks

Sarah Jensen, Feb. 18, 2016 Photo by Bruce Gilbert

Title: Director, Ad Sales

Organization Name: Crown Media Family Networks

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

I am responsible for selling commercial time on Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, digital inventory across our digital and social properties and monetizing the many unique sponsorship opportunities that we offer across our platforms during the year, especially within our original movies, original series and seasonal holiday events.

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?  

Holy Cross’ alumni network, Crusader Connections, enabled me to make connections with alumni in the media, advertising and communications industries. Through my outreach, I was able to set up many informational interviews with alumni to learn about their roles and responsibilities as I tried to decide the direction in which I wanted to move in my career. Coincidentally, one of my informational interviews with an alumnus of Crown Media Family Networks, which ultimately led me to the opportunity to begin my career in media.

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

On campus, I was a member of Fools on the Hill, the College’s only co-ed a cappella group. I also was very involved in Campus Ministry, participating and/or leading retreats like Escape, Manresa and the Spiritual Exercises. I was also in the MAGIS program and the church choir, often leading the 10pm Mass in song.

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

As a Spanish major, I was unsure about the career path I wanted to take after graduation. Knowing I did not want to be a teacher, I was not sure how to best put my major to use in my professional life. My first job after Holy Cross was at a translation company. However, after soon realizing that it was not the right fit, I knew I may have to open myself up to other industries and opportunities to find my place. Despite not working in a role that obviously utilizes my Spanish major, the skills I developed through my major and experience studying abroad for a year in Leon, Spain positively impacted my career decisions and helped me secure a position at Crown Media Family Networks even though I do not use Spanish on a daily basis.

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

My ability to write and communicate clearly and effectively has been essential to my work every day. It not only helps me internally among my colleagues, but it helps tremendously in my outreach to clients and in my ability to establish better relationships with them. Also, thinking creatively continues to help me find success, especially when it comes to finding solutions for my clients.

What advice do you have for students on campus today?

Work hard and soak up as much information and as many unique experiences as you can. Everything you do at Holy Cross helps prepare you for the professional world. Once ready to look for a job, be as prepared as you can be as you go into each interview and as you communicate with people throughout the process. First impressions stick!

Meet Alum Ajit Bhullar ’18, Intern with Public Citizen

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 Alumna Michelle Schefter ’16, Graduate Scientist at AstraZeneca

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

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.

 

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?

 

Meet Alum, Michael Wright ’12, Associate, Equity Capital Markets at Canaccord Genuity Inc

Alum Michael Wright ’12 – Associate, Equity Capital Markets at Canaccord Genuity Inc

 

Name: Michael Wright

Class Year: 2012

Organization Name: Canaccord Genuity (Equity Capital Markets)

 

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

Advise and execute equity financings for growth focused companies.

 

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?

3 months into my first job out of HC, an HC alumni reached out asking if I would be interested in an analyst position on the Canaccord Equity Capital Markets desk. Despite feeling hesitant given my short time at my first employer, I felt the opportunity to join a small, dynamic team would be too hard to pass up.

 

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

Football, SGA, Big Brother Big Sister

 

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

History major. Despite not being a finance related major, it provided me with the ability to analyze multiple pieces of information into narrower concepts/ themes . The skills of reading, analyzing, writing, etc. are crucial skills in any professional setting.

 

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

Multi-tasking

Information analysis

 

What advice do you have for students on campus today?

Choose a major that is interesting to you – Holy Cross has a great reputation across all industries, and employers recognize they a hiring hard-working, smart candidates. Unless an industry requires specific credentials, do not force a major to fit a job application.

Make classroom performance #1, but also spend time utilizing the Holy Cross alumni network in your targeted profession(s). While it can be intimidating at first, the majority of alumni are extremely engaging and happy to provide career advice.

Meet Alum Chad Wright ’92, Senior Director of IT, Amazon Robotics

Meet Alum Chad Wright ’92, Senior Director of IT, Amazon Robotics 

 

In one sentence, what does your job entail?  

As Senior Director of IT, I am responsible for the overall strategy and delivery of IT services, such as enterprise software, infrastructure, information security and service desk, that help our organization operate safely and efficiently.

 

What were you involved in when you were on campus?  

When I was on campus, I was a member of the Calculus Workshop (which also included the inaugural Computer Workshop) and a TA that graded lots of math homework.  Though my baseball career was very brief (one season), my friends and I played just about every intramural sport the college offered.

 

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

I was a Mathematics major with a concentration in Computer Science.  I studied what I loved and it led me into the direction of my career today.  I didn’t know anything about Information Technology and that’s why I’m so passionate about helping students learn more about the industry and be prepared for the opportunities that await them.

 

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 graduated, I had two job offers.  The first was a math and computer science teaching position with athletic coaching responsibilities at a private school in Long Island, NY.  The second offer was to join a database marketing software company as a business analyst that was much closer to my family and friends in MA.  I decided to take the business analyst role not really knowing what I was getting into, but because it was a growing company with challenging business problems and a teaching and learning culture, I decided to take a chance.  It turned out that I enjoyed the work and really excelled at it.

 

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

The most important skills are critical thinking and problem-solving.  As a manager, mentor and coach, I find it’s very difficult to teach someone how to think critically or make them a better problem solver without investing an extraordinary amount of time and effort.  Holy Cross helped me develop my skills to look at each challenge pragmatically, to find new and creative ways to solve a problem – whether it be about people or about technology.  Leaving Holy Cross, I became a better reader, writer and listener.  These skills are critical to the success I’ve had in my various IT roles throughout my career.