Posts Tagged ‘Alumni Guest Post’

Alumni Guest Post: Alana DiPesa ’09

November 18th, 2011 by pjdunn12

This week hear from Alana DiPesa ’09 and her career development from JVC to graduate school!

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Alana DiPesa '09

I graduated from Holy Cross in 2009 and did what any graduate without definite post-graduate goals would do in an economic recession, volunteer!

I had always wanted to do a year of service after graduation but the lack of job prospects made it all the more appealing once my senior year rolled around. I applied to a couple of international programs and then on a whim applied to the national Jesuit Volunteer Corps. I felt like everyone who volunteered from Holy Cross did JVC, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to follow that path, but the recruiters talked a lot about the JVC community that I would be a part of long after my year of service was over and that appealed to me because it sounded a lot like the Holy Cross community that I had come to love.

I eventually chose JVC over the international programs and was placed at a Sanctuary for Families, a nonprofit working to combat domestic violence in Brooklyn, NY.  I loved the year I volunteered for Sanctuary as a paralegal in their immigration department; I became so passionate about the undocumented clients we served and felt as though I had found my life’s work.  When Spring engulfed New York I realized my time at Sanctuary would have to end; I was not only saddened to leave the job I had come to love, I was terrified about what I would do next and how it would ever compare.

The first thing I did to begin my job hunt was talk to all of my colleagues and supervisors with

With the JVC Community

whom I had built strong relationships.  I told them what kind of work I was interested in, gave them a copy of my resume, and asked that they send it along to any of their contacts who might be hiring.  I got a lot of positive responses and a couple of interviews from this alone.

In the meantime, though, I had also made my interest in staying at Sanctuary clear to my bosses and I wound up getting hired on as a Family Reunification Coordinator after my year of service was completed.  This new role was a promotion from the work I had been doing as a paralegal and a huge challenge as I began running the reunification program almost entirely on my own.  I was responsible for assisting the children of our clients who were still living abroad apply for visas, and upon approval, enter the U.S.

As Family Reunification Coordinator I was privy to some of the most intimate interactions that families had; I witnessed the joy upon initial reunification, the fear of inadequacy that mothers who had been without their children for as much as 10 years felt, the disappointment that these children experienced when they realized that their vision of America was a far cry from the life they would be living, and the inevitable arguments that ensued.  It was this exposure to family dynamics that convinced me of what I wanted to do next: I was going to follow in my mother’s footsteps and become a child and family therapist.

Hanging out with friends from JVC

I had come to love my work schedule so much that I was not thrilled about becoming a full-time student again, but I knew that it was the only way to get to where I wanted to be.  I started researching clinical Social Work programs and decided on the Smith School for Social Work because their program would allow me to work at an internship for the majority of the year and only be in classes during the summers.  I completed my first two semesters of classes this past summer and now I’m working at the Yale Child Study Center in New Haven, CT providing therapy to children and families affected by HIV/AIDS.

I’ve had a taste of everything since graduating from Holy Cross: volunteering, working full-time, and now being back in graduate school. I didn’t plan for my post-graduate years to work out this way, but I can’t imagine it haven’t gone any smoother.

I finally understand what the career counselors were trying to get through to me when I was an undergrad: networking is everything! If I hadn’t made the contacts that I did through my year of service as a Jesuit Volunteer I wouldn’t have landed a dream job afterward and I also wouldn’t have heard about the Smith Social Work program nor had people to write references for me.  Making connections and building rapport with new people that you meet is so much more important than I ever realized while I was at Holy Cross.

Now, although I’m still making new connections at the Yale Child Study Center, I’m also maintaining my former connections through email updates, coffee dates, and cards around the holidays; you never know when you might want to call up that person you met way back when and ask for a favor, so it’s worth it to make sure they remember you and keep them in your network!

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Did this story resonate with you?

Inspired to do service work after graduation? Check out opportunities in Career Planning or with the Chaplains’ Office.

Alumni Guest Post: Isabelle Jenkins ’10

November 10th, 2011 by pjdunn12

This week we meet Isabelle Jenkins ’10 as she shares her experience as a community organizer in a Boston community!

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I did not have a job when I graduated from Holy Cross in May 2010. In fact, I barely had any job prospects.

Isabelle Jenkins '10

I went on a few interviews April of my senior year, but had not rigorously entered the career planning process. I was just too busy and frankly in denial that my time at Holy Cross was coming to an end.

However, looking back on this time now, it was perhaps one of the best decisions I ever made. I learned that if you have the leisure of waiting to search for a job, then take it. When else will you have a senior year in college? When else will you have a summer off? The jobs will come because Holy Cross has an amazing career network and is an amazing institution, so take the job hunting process at your own pace. Everyone approaches it differently and taking that pressure off of having a job the day after you graduate can actually make the process that much more enjoyable and will definitely make your senior year more enjoyable.

When I did graduate, I took a job as a nanny in my hometown and threw myself into the job-hunting process. Fortunately, for me, it came together rather quickly.

I knew that I wanted to go to graduate school and I also knew that volunteer work was something that I was always called to. So I applied to the Life Together program in Boston, MA, which is part of the Episcopal Service Corps, a program similar to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. I was accepted into the program and moved to Boston at the end of August 2010.

My year with the Life Together program changed my life. I lived in community with seven other interns and commuted out to Watertown, MA everyday to work as a community organizer. In Watertown, through an Episcopal church, I worked in the community itself. I talked with people from different organizations, from different churches, and from the local hangouts and listened to what the town needed and wanted.Through this listening process, I discovered an immense amount of energy around building a community garden. Watertown did not have one, but many of the surrounding towns did. So, I set out to help the community build one.

Together, with a team of Watertown residents, we teamed up with the Watertown Housing Authority, a low-income community, and built a garden on a vacant lot that they owned. The garden opened in June of 2011 and has 30 plots where the low-income residents of the housing authority and the neighbors of that community garden side by side. It was an amazing feat and will hopefully be the first of many community gardens in Watertown.

I say that this year changed my life because it was extremely challenging work. Being a community organizer, I had to put myself out there every day. I knew no one in town and I had no idea how to start a “social justice project,” as my program deemed my community-organizing task. I constantly was meeting new people and having to talk about why I was in the town. I also had to return home to seven people and be accountable to the community there.

Peppers at the community garden.

My job and my life became about relationships. This was what was so life-changing about the year. For so long, my goal has always been success, about the numbers and the letters, about what can be quantitatively measured. But what Holy Cross began to teach me and what my year with Life Together taught me is that it is the qualitative things that matter the most. Relationships should be and can be at the center.

Now, one and a half years out of Holy Cross and after my year with Life Together, I am a first year master of divinity student at Harvard Divinity School, still living in Boston. Additionally, I am working as a field education student in the Office of the College Chaplains at Holy Cross and the Alumni Coordinator for the Life Together program. Relationships continue to be what drives me, and I am so grateful that I am doing the type of work that continuously challenges me to keep these relationships at the center.

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Did this story resonate with you?

Inspired to do service work after graduation? Check out opportunities in Career Planning or with the Chaplains’ Office.

Alumni Guest Post: Josh Jones ’11

November 3rd, 2011 by pjdunn12

This week meet Josh Jones ’11, who has transitioned from shooting hoops in Hart to saving lives at St. Vincent Hospital.

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Josh Jones '11

For the majority the past four years my days were happily spent going to class in Stein and Beavan, playing basketball in the Hart Center, meeting friends for dinner at Kimball and for coffee at Cool Beans, studying late Dinand, and of course those “social gatherings” on Caro Street.

Unfortunately, like they say, “all good things must come to an end”.  So, on May 27th 2011, life has I had known it for four years change tremendously.

Now, the time that I once spent shooting hoops at Hart is now spent working as a Pharmacy Technician at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Ma. I became certified as a pharmacy technician during the summer before my junior. As a part of HC’s Academic Internship Program, I was able to intern in the inpatient pharmacy at St. Vincent during the spring of my senior year. I was hired right before graduation have enjoyed working in the pharmacy ever since. I think that working in the pharmacy is a great experience that will prove to be valuable as apply to pharmacy schools.

The time that I previously spent eating with my friends and roommates in Kimball and Crossroads, I now spend grocery shopping and cooking meals for myself. After set the smoke alarm off countless, cooking is something that I am finally getting the hang of. I now appreciate all of the cooking and shopping that my mom did for me when I was at home.

My late nights of writing papers in the stacks of Dinand have now turned into late nights of applying to pharmacy schools in my Shrewsbury apartment. I have applying to schools as close to Holy Cross as MCPHS in Worcester, as far away as Sullivan University in Louisville, Ky.

Although my trips to Caro Street have come to an end, they have been replaced with trips to Boston and New York. Staying in the Worcester area has not only made the transition to life after Holy Cross easy but it has also made it easier to visit and stay in touch with friends who are also in the New England area.

While I miss being a student at Holy Cross, I am happy to be in my own place, working, and preparing for the next stage in my life. To those of you still on the hill; enjoy your time at HC and know that when we leave as graduates we are very well equipped to pave our own way in the world.

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Did this story resonate with you?

Looking for a job in the medical field? Check out Holy Cross Health Professions.

Alumni Guest Post: Christine Giamattei ’10

October 24th, 2011 by pjdunn12

Check out the first article in our new Alumni Guest Post series–a series of posts written by young alumni about life after Holy Cross! First up–Christine Giamattei ’10 on her transition from Holy Cross to the real world.

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Christine Giamattei '10

When I graduated from Holy Cross in May 2010, I had a lot to look forward to.

A day before my friends and I left to celebrate the end of senior year on the Cape, I interviewed for an assistant job at a top advertising agency – what I thought was my dream job – and got the job on the spot.

What’s more, the job was in New York City, the one place I wanted to live and work after graduation. I had spent summers 2008 and 2009 interning there and, to my surprise, fell in love.

During second semester of senior year, I did everything I could to get back there. I perfected my resume, visited the Career Planning Office almost every day, e-mailed with Holy Cross alumni who worked in Marketing, Advertising, Communications, or Public Relations, wrote cover letter after cover letter, signed up for every social media site to market myself, stalked particular companies’ websites, blogs and Twitter accounts, read up on industry trends and even spent an entire family vacation preparing for a phone interview.

There was a time when I thought that nothing I had done was going to pan out and that I was the only one without a plan.

I was patient, waiting for something good to click for me.

When it did, I was ecstatic. Of course I was going to accept the offer to work at a company that could lead to great opportunities and to live in the city I loved. I knew I wouldn’t be making a lot of money, but I never thought twice about making it work financially.

I found an ideal 4-month sublet and moved down to New York City two weeks after graduation and started my job a day after.

At first, things went well. I was drawing up expense reports, maintaining my boss’s calendar, making photocopies, putting together binders – very much administrative work. It was humbling, and I didn’t mind it – I have always known I’d have to “pay my dues.” I worked with a wonderful group of people who were also recent college graduates, so the environment was fun, social and supportive. I worked hard and give it all I had.

However, I was not prepared for the bad relationship that would soon develop between my boss and me. As the administrative assistant, it was all too easy to get blamed for things that went wrong – and unfortunately, once my boss decided she didn’t like me, it was as simple as that and went downhill from there.

I never thought I’d be someone who didn’t get along with their boss, or anyone else for that matter. I love people and I’m a team player. If I stayed there, I knew my boss would make my life miserable or block me from further opportunities at the company or even fire me.

When I received an e-mail from my supervisor at my internship from the prior summer, asking if I would interview for an open position, I jumped at the chance. I had had a successful internship there and could imagine picking up right where I had left off.

I interviewed, got the offer and accepted right away. I had been earning overtime at my first job, so the salary was actually much less.

Again, I thought I’d be able to make it all work.

Right around the time I switched jobs in October 2010, I moved out of my 4-month sublet, signed a lease with one of my Holy Cross roommates and moved into a very tiny apartment on the Upper East Side. The rent was within our budget and the most bang for our buck, as far as safe areas of New York City go. The neighborhood was wonderful and I loved everything about living with a best friend and being a mile away from Central Park.

However, a few months later, I realized that I did not like my job and was not happy with my financial situation.

Graduation 2010

Very long story short from the past year: It was a good job, but it was not for me. I also never got the feeling that I had a good work-to-life balance. With more than an hour commute each way, I was always stressed out about rushing to and from work. I felt guilty that I wasn’t staying super late every night, even though I would get all of my work done and met my deadlines. I thrive on the “life” part of that balance too.

On top of being unsatisfied there, I was making very little money for the amount of work I was doing and saving none of it.

Along with rent payments each month, there were also payments to be made for my Metro card, laundry and groceries. I did a pretty good job of making ends meet and cutting out basic things like a gym membership and cable, but I was unhappy with that struggle.

This past summer, my roommate and I frequently discussed renewing our lease. For me, it was a tough decision – months and months of weighing the pros and cons. When it finally came time to decide if I would renew the lease, I realized that signing on for another year of these struggles was something I could not do.

It may have been an unconventional career move without another job lined up, but I decided to leave my job and move home. I am interviewing now, and have faith that the right opportunity will come along for me–I’m excited and feeling positive about that!

I’d love to leave you with some things to think about as you apply for jobs or secure plans for after graduation–some things I wish someone had told me when I was still in college.

–It is perfectly OK to graduate without a job or without a plan.

Since I first began working (and not loving my job), I wished someone had told me this. During senior year, jobs and after-graduation plans were hot commodities and everyone seemed competitive about them. I like to akin it to an arms race. Do not get defeated if you do not secure a job right away. The right opportunity will come your way–and the time off after graduation will allow you to think about what you really want to do.

–Do not regret the decisions you do make.

Of course, I still wonder what would have happened if I graduated without a job and moved home. I wonder if I would have had time to think about what I really wanted to do or to save money to pursue other opportunities. However, I definitely do not regret accepting the initial job offer and the past year and a half I spent living and working in New York City. I’ve learned a lot, especially about myself and the kind of career I want.

—Be resourceful.

You’ve most likely heard about the importance of networking, but I will reiterate that it is as indispensable as a good GPA on your resume and the internships under your belt. I got set up with both jobs I’ve had though Holy Cross alumni. Event if it is just to start a conversation or to look for advice, send e-mails to alums! Beyond networking, do everything you can to be the ideal candidate in whatever industry you are interested in. For me, that meant launching my running and healthy living blog to show my writing skills and interest in fitness, social media and communications. Also, never think that you “won’t” get something. There are jobs out there and positions to be filled–so always take the chance and apply!

—Spend time to think about what you really want to do.

Brainstorm about positions and career paths. Figure out what you are good at and are passionate about. Listen to people, ask questions and make lists of pro’s and con’s. Don’t think that you have to go into a particular industry just because you had a similar internship. Consider opportunities like graduate school and teaching fellowships.

—Consider your finances.

Unfortunately, promising yourself that you will make it work is not enough. Things always end up costing more than you initially figure.  Now I am way more realistic about what I can and cannot afford than when I first graduated. Know that it is okay to pass on opportunities and invitations and that saving money is a good ting. Considering your finances may be the hardest thing you’ll have to do after graduated, but it is also the smartest and most mature.

—Enjoy your life to the fullest.

Life does go on after graduation and I promise you, you’ll enjoy it! Keep in touch with Holy Cross friends, make new friends at work and in your city, pursue a hobby, challenge yourself with some task. Though I have not had the best experiences with jobs so far, I am very happy with my life outside of work and who I’ve become.

I hope my story and experiences in the year and a half that has passed since I graduated from Holy Cross have helped you in some way.

Please let me know if you have any questions for me. I can be reached by e-mail at: