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

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 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?