Meet Alumna Lauren Spurr ’13, Brand Marketing Manager

Name: Lauren Spurr

 Class Year: 2013

 Title: Brand Marketing Manager

 Organization Name: The Trade Desk

 

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

Build and amplify The Trade Desk’s brand to solidify our position as the leading DSP shaping the future of digital advertising.

 

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?  

 Immediately after graduation, I went to work for NBCUniversal as a Page in the East Coast Page program. I was an intern at msnbc’s Morning Joe the summer before my Senior year at HC which helped me build relationships and experience to secure my position at the company the following year. After three years working in TV and following my interest in politics to a position at Bloomberg on the campaign trail during the 2016 election cycle, I was let go in a company reorganization (unplanned!). This led to me to reflect on what I most enjoyed about my jobs leading to this point and tap into the network I had built to find a new challenge in Marketing. A former Bloomberg teammate had joined The Trade Desk, and encouraged me to apply since the open position had a vast opportunity for growth, was in a setting she knew I’d find gratifying, and involved challenging, intellectually stimulating work. During these critical first few years in the workforce, I was able to experiment in different industries, build a network of strong professional relationships, and hone my skillset to find positions that offered a challenge, gave me the opportunity to have an impact, and provided workplace cultures where I could succeed.

 

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

 SGA, Gateways Orientation Leaders, SPUD (tutoring at Quinsigamond Elementary and Abby’s House), Manresa retreats, Washington Semester Program, and Spring Break Immersion in Appalachia (Roanoke and Barren Springs)

 

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

 I majored in Political Science, and because of my major, I sought out opportunities that involved a lot of writing, strategic thinking, and complex problem solving. Early on, I sought out opportunities directly connected to what I studied, including an internship at the US Department of State and working in political television. Once I learned that my major could apply to a broader set of industries and roles, I was able to expand how I envisioned the future of my career to include fields like Marketing.

 

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

 I rely on my ability to ask intentional and thoughtful questions, and my writing and communication skills in my day-to-day responsibilities. I sharpened these skills during my time at HC, and they have been critical to all of my roles to date.

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

When it comes to career planning, think big! It can sometimes feel like there are only a few career paths to choose from upon graduation, but the working world is more expansive than you think. I certainly didn’t expect to work in television or Marketing with my Political Science degree, but both industries were perfect settings for my HC skill set and fulfilling environments to build my career. Talking to alums in diverse and various fields will help expand your view of what’s possible and where you’d like to contribute your energy when you enter the workforce.

On the Hill, soak up every moment you have in the classroom with HC’s brilliant professors and the time you’re spending with your friends and classmates. The opportunity to be a student learning from the most knowledgeable educators is a privilege and something you’ll be immensely grateful for when you look back at your time in college. The relationships you’re building with your friends are going to be what you cling to when faced with life’s biggest challenges, so cherish the memories you’re making now because you are building a foundation for lifelong friendships.

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 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 Piero Iberti ’11, Screenwriter/Filmmaker

Name: Piero Iberti

Class Year: 2011

Title: Screenwriter/Filmmaker

Organization Name: Currently between seasons writing for USA Network’s Limited Series “The Sinner”

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

For the past four years, my job has taken the form of Writers’ Assistant. A Writers’ Assistant essentially operate as the keeper of the story for the writers. The day-to-day takes place in the Writers’ Room with intense note-taking, while the writers pitch on story arcs for the season and characters, leading to story for specific episodes. It’s basically my job to internalize and manage the story, as it develops, so I can best support the writers as a resource for information. Sometimes I get to pitch my own ideas in the Room and occasionally I get to help a Writer with their outline, but generally a good Writers’ Assistant is one who listens well and reminds the writers of what they talked about without involving themselves too much.

For all three seasons of “The Sinner” thus far, I’ve also worked as the Assistant to the showrunner/head writer & Executive Producer – Derek Simonds.  As of this past season, I not only worked as Writers’ Assistant and Assistant to Derek, but also achieved my dream of writing my first professional script for television with him in this season’s finale.

 

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?

It was a combination of things. After graduating, I knew I wanted to write, I just didn’t know what specific type of writing road I wanted to go down. I knew I loved movies though, how the visual medium helped communicate and anchor a story or message. I consulted with my friends and parents (my Dad also worked his way up the film ladder starting as a Parking Production Assistant for the Locations Department guarding cones/parking spots around the City in the ‘80s and is now an Executive Producer, most recently for HBO’s “Watchmen”). My Dad didn’t have much awareness at the time of a specific screenwriting path, but offered that a good place to start and learn might be as a Production Assistant on set. This way I could experience all the different departments in unison, get paid to help with, but also learn about what it takes, to make a Film/TV Show.

 With his help, as well as one of my childhood friends, I was able to interview and get my first job as a Production Assistant on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. It was extremely hard work: 14-16 hours, low pay, but it was a start. It was also extremely rewarding right away. It was my on-the-job film school. I was suddenly learning what every person on the crew was doing and how each of them contributed to the greater whole. As I progressed as a Production Assistant, I knew that this was the type of collaborative art I wanted to bring my writing to.

 

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

I always tried to stay involved at Holy Cross. Thankfully the school’s intimate size and support from various programs made it easy. Academically, I was a part of the Summer Study Abroad Program my Junior Year with Professor Judith Chubb in Nairobi, Kenya. I was a Resident Assistant my Junior Year (in Loyola) and Senior Year (in Williams) as well as a part of the Spring Break Immersion Program from my Sophomore Year onward. Sports/Team-wise, I played Club Hockey and vibraphone in the Jazz Ensemble, with the one and only Mike Monaghan, all four years.

 

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

I was an English Major with concentrations in Creative Writing and Peace & Conflict Studies. Like I mentioned earlier, I knew I wanted to write – writing was always a passion – I just didn’t know in what form it was going to materialize or make the most sense. A lot of my writing at Holy Cross (under the incredible mentorship of Professors Leila Philip, Patricia Bizzell and Leah Hager Cohen) took the form of prose. A combination of memoir and journalistic writing helped me make sense of areas of history and social justice I was passionate about. My Professors encouraged me to bring a creatively analytical lens to these topics, approach them from various writing angles. Another important piece, was Senior Year I took an elective — a screenwriting course with a visiting professor (Steven Wingate). That’s when it all clicked. All the elements. I asked myself — “Why am I fighting this? This combines all my interests: creative storytelling, economy of language, visual enforcement.”

Without the support from my Professors and classes to experiment with and meld different writing styles, I don’t know if I would’ve had the confidence or skill sets needed to pursue a career in the arts, specifically writing.

 

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

The ability to write analytically across a wide range of topics, proofread thoroughly and edit meticulously. One hundred percent. Also I learned how to take notes efficiently. Each one of these elements has played a significant part of my career growth. I can attribute my comfort and success in these areas, in part, to two other mentors – Professors Steve Vineberg and Judith Chubb. They both saw potential in my writing/creative leanings and helped me focus them analytically, holding me to the highest standard of structure and grammar.

Also, it may seem simple or cliched, but Holy Cross really instilled in me just how much the ability to listen plays into being a man for and with others. Not only in the classroom or with my Professors, but also through the activities I found myself involved with around campus.

 

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

Stay open. Don’t be afraid to say yes to things you’re unsure of – both in the classroom and out – because you never know who you might meet or what you might experience that ignites you. I can tell you confidently that significant friends, mentors, colleagues and success factors in my professional life have often come from the earliest jobs I said yes to, even if it wasn’t necessarily what I wanted to do. Those are the steps that help you be most in touch with yourself.

Also, don’t feel like you have to have it all figured out at ANY point in the four year span. A lot of my realizations, in regards to a career, came late…even as I was graduating and that first year after school. It’s that openness which facilitates confidence and further self-awareness.

Also, take advantage of the intimate nature of your classes and professors’ open doors. That is what saved me, kept me at HC and allowed me to access the tools to unlock and realize my passions fully. Honestly.

Meet Alumna Amy Archambault Remby ’08, Designer at Georgia Zikas Design

Name: Amy Archambault Remby

Class Year: 2008

Title: Designer

Organization Name: Georgia Zikas Design

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

I am a Designer for a full-service interior design firm focusing on high-end residential projects and delivering elevated spaces, improved lifestyle and exceptional service to our clients locally and beyond.

 

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?  

Upon graduating from the College in 2008, I earned my Masters of Fine Arts degree with the intention to pursue a career in Higher Education (the Arts). I was welcomed back to the College by my former faculty and mentors to serve as Studio Supervisor and Lecturer for the Studio Arts Program. This position was extremely beneficial to my creative growth, interpersonal and project management skills. A career in Higher Education was a natural fit and a most inspiring path. When relocating (out of state), I was inspired to expand my knowledge in a different creative industry, but with tremendous parallels. Both careers have been hugely impactful and rewarding.

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

During my time at the College, I was a double major in Studio Art and Psychology. I was a 4-year varsity athlete as well (Women’s Lacrosse) with a 2-year captainship within the program. I was also a member of the GESSO (Student Art Club) program. Being involved in athletics, academics and the arts provided me with a tremendous sense of community and diversity.


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

I was a double major in Studio Art and Psychology. Both majors provided me with the skills sets needed to pursue a career in Higher Education, then one in a creative, but more corporate-centered industry. My major in Studio Art inspired me to continue my education in earning my Masters degree — a necessary step towards educating others and pursuing my interests as a practicing artist.

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

Collaborating with Others – In all of my work experiences to date, working efficiently and respectfully with others has driven me to success. Team is everything! Learning to communicate with diverse minds and embrace multiple perspectives is so important.

Creative Problem Solving – As an artist, we are constantly presenting our ideas, subjecting those ideas to self-critique and modifying / re-presenting them accordingly. Learning to problem solve and do so with a creative spirit and open mind has been so important in all industries that I have worked in.

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

Take risks and try something new – Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I find (in my previous teaching experience) that students become largely focused on getting the “grade” and succeeding at being a “good student”. And I know from experience that HC students are very good at that. I encourage students today to take a step back, to reflect, to challenge and to think creatively and openly. Embrace the mistakes, the unknown and the challenges of working with other who offer different perspectives / opinions. The world is a lot bigger than College Hill. Go beyond!

Meet Alumna Caroline Ambrose ’19, Production Assistant at MSNBC

Caroline Ambrose ‘19

Title: Production Assistant, All In with Chris Hayes

Organization Name: MSNBC

 

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

I manage the show’s social media accounts, create clips to publish online, and coordinate the show’s on-air graphics.

 

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?  

During the summer before my senior year at Holy Cross, I landed an internship at NBC Nightly News through an HC alumna who was a senior digital producer there at the time. I had always been interested in digital media, and I found that I really enjoyed the intersection of social media and journalism. I loved how each day offered a new and exciting opportunity to tell a story. I also loved the collaborative and supportive environment that NBC News fostered.

After my internship, I stayed in contact with HR and some of the people I worked with at NBC News, and I  leveraged those connections to interview for the position that I have now.

 

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

Writer’s Workshop, Study Abroad, Digital Transgender Archive, Admissions Senior Interviewer/Greeter, Class Gift Committee

 

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

As an English major, I knew I wanted to pursue a career where I could exercise my creativity and fulfill my interest in story-telling. This left me with a lot of options, but it also helped narrow down what I did NOT want to do.

 

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

I think my liberal arts education at Holy Cross encouraged me to approach the unfamiliar with openness. As a Production Assistant, I’ve had to learn a lot of new skills on the job, and I think HC taught me how to be comfortable with tackling those new challenges head on.

 

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

Take advantage of the resources the Career Center has to offer! I had the counselors look over all of my cover letters and resumes, and scheduled plenty of mock interviews with them throughout my time at HC (including when I was abroad).

Meet Alumna Carley Buckley ’18, Administrative Executive Assistant

Name: Carley Buckley

Class Year: 2018

Title: Executive Administrative Executive Assistant

Organization Name: Steiner Studios

 

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

I provide administrative support to the CEO and hands-on office support to staff as well as act as a liaison between the productions on site and our facility.

 

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?  

It all started with an internship hunt for my New York Semester during the fall of my junior year. I knew I was interested in the Arts and Entertainment Industry, however, I was having a difficult time finding an internship. An opportunity at Steiner Studios presented itself at the last minute and I was able to stay in the NY program. As an intern in their Stage Operations Department, I worked with multiple productions and assisted with everyday tasks such as setting up lunch areas and maintaining fire lane codes. The internship introduced me to the behind-scenes part of the industry that I previously knew nothing about. Steiner Studios has given me the opportunity to learn and grow in this industry that I’ve been fascinated with for so long. The internship and the connections I made during that time helped me the most when looking for jobs after graduation.

 

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

I was very involved in the music scene around campus. I was a part of College Choir and Chamber Singers as well as Fools on the Hill. Junior year I formed my own band, “No Protocol” and performed at campus events and participated in Battle of the Bands. Being involved with these groups allowed me to pursue a passion of mine as well as apply what I was learning in my music classes into practice. I was also involved in the Admissions Office as a Tour Guide and then as a Senior Interviewer. As my time at Holy Cross came to close, I found it exciting to see and meet the next generation of students and share my experiences as they began theirs.

 

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

I was an English and Music double major. I enjoyed reading and analyzing epic poems and operas that influence our literature and music today. The double major overlapped many times throughout my courses of study. For example, my 18th Century Poetry class had Martha Redbone perform her compositions using lyrics from William Blake’s poetry. Watching my majors intertwine made me realize what I do and how I do it with my majors is all up to me.

 

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

My interactions with people, both coworkers and clients, happen every day. There is never a slow point in the day where I can hide behind my computer. Therefore, my communication skills is one of the most important skills I strengthened at Holy Cross. I encounter a variety of personalities so it is important that I communicate in a clear, concise, and respectful way in order to assist our clients. Critical thinking is another important skill I use on a daily basis. Whether I need to track down a package that was lost in the mail or conference rooms are overbooked, quick problem-solving can help keep a situation from turning into a disaster.

 

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

Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy. Taking on an internship that wasn’t expected at the time eventually led to my first job out of college and I’ve made some great friends and colleagues in the process. During my internships and throughout Holy Cross, I made some mistakes but what was important was my ability to learn from them and keep moving forward.

Meet Alumna Kledia Spiro ’10, Marketing Consultant

Name: Kledia Spiro

Class Year: 2010

Title: Marketing Consultant

Organization Name: Independent

 

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

I design and implement comprehensive and strategic marketing plans for start ups and organizations

 

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 a research assistant and supervisor for Dr. Amy Wolfson, the Chair of the Psychology Department. She was my advisor and my mentor after Holy Cross. My first employer was Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. I was the Clinical Research Coordinator for the Neuro-Oncology Department. After having to redo the department’s severe adverse events forms for an audit and meeting with the pharmaceutical companies every other day, I decided it was not the right fit for me. I realized marketing was the perfect combination of my passion for art and story telling while using data analytics, which I so enjoyed in research and medicine.

 

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

I was a  “Hate: Not Here!” committee member, Student Program for Urban Development, Volunteer for Apostolic Church, Office of Multicultural Education, Social Justice coordinator, NEED (Nutrition, Exercise, and Eating Disorders) Peer Educator, Secretary, Nativity School Teacher, Social Justice 101 Curriculum Coordinator

 

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

I was a Psychology and Visual Arts Major with an Asian Studies Concentration. I could not be more grateful to have had a Holy Cross education and to have picked these two majors and the concentration. They have affected my career decisions in countless ways. They gave me the incredible strong foundation on how to be team player, empathic leader, and thrive in fast paced environments. It is these very qualities that opened many opportunities for me when I was a graduate student at Tufts University and when I worked at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and beyond.

 

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

At Holy Cross I learned how to be very detail oriented, accurate and a team player. Being detail oriented and a strategic thinker were really developed in my studio classes as I had to constantly step back from the canvas or whatever work I was creating so I had a wide view of what was happening in my work and weren’t getting lost in the details. I also honed in my accuracy and team player skills in many of my psychology and Asian studies classes.

 

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

Take time to take care of yourself. Go to the Hart center and use the sauna or the pool and just take a break. The stress of a strenuous Holy Cross education can take a toll on your health if you don’t take the appropriate amount of breaks. There are so many opportunities waiting for you as a Holy Cross graduate, don’t over-stress yourself with getting a job before you graduate only to miss the opportunity to enjoy your last semester on the hill.

Meet Alumna Stephanie Schaefer Ford ’11, Senior Marketing Copywriter with Rue Gilt Groupe

Stephanie Schaefer Ford

Class Year: 2011

Title: Senior Marketing Copywriter

Organization Name: Rue Gilt Groupe

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

As a Senior Copywriter, I am responsible for crafting the stories that support Rue La La’s marketing initiatives, whether it be as straightforward as writing clever subject lines and push notifications for our daily sales, or as in-depth as conceptualizing an entire holiday campaign.

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 graduation, I accepted a summer fellowship through the International Radio & Television Society in New York City. My spot was sponsored by The Hallmark Channel/Crown Media Networks and its CEO (Bill Abbot, Class of ‘84). It was an amazing experience and exposed me to the ins and outs of the industry.

Through the program, I interned in the marketing and publicity department of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, assisting with the promotion of films like The Help & Cars 2. During the course of the summer, I also attended seminars hosted by IRTS and media executives in various positions, ranging from ad sales to production. These meetings confirmed that I wanted my next role to involve creativity and writing, which eventually led me to pursue a position as an Editorial Assistant at an online magazine.

 

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

I was the Vice President of the English Honor Society and Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Purple Literary Magazine during my senior year. I also was involved with the Campus Activities Board (CAB), volunteered at Friendly House in Worcester through SPUD, and contributed articles to The Crusader Newspaper.

 

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

I majored in English, with a concentration in Creative Writing. I remember right before graduation, one of my favorite professors, Leah Cohen, asked us to respond to an article that said, “graduating with an English Degree is like going out into a storm without a coat.” I believe my response was something along the lines of “I’d rather go out coatless than wear one that isn’t my style.” Through my Holy Cross courses, I realized I wanted a career that would fulfill me creatively, but I wasn’t quite sure what that would be. English majors may not have a direct path, but that’s half the fun!

 

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

I’m fortunate that I get to hone the skills I developed in college every day. Holy Cross taught me to think outside of the box and express my voice, whether that be in an extensive 20-page thesis paper or a three-line poem for a Creative Writing class. These abilities are certainly valuable when you’re a Copywriter writing for a variety of different mediums.

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

Learn from every experience, big and small. Also, I think it’s important to be adaptable, but always stay true to your passions. Luckily, in today’s digital world that’s easier than ever. For instance, in my spare time, I contribute to Writer’s Bone, a podcast and website my husband co-founded, dedicated to writing. I’m fortunate to have a creatively fulfilling day job, but interviewing authors and screenwriters for the podcast allows me to hone a different set of skills. In addition to signing up for courses and extracurriculars that you’re passionate about, I’d encourage students to pick up a side hustle, start a blog, or do whatever it is that fuels your creative spirit.

 

 

Meet Alumna Justine Hill ’08, Independent Artist

Name: Justine Hill

Class Year: 2008

Title: Artist

Organization Name: Self-Employed

 

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

As an artist, most of my job is spent working in my studio making new artwork for both exhibition and sale.

 

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?  

As with most artists I know, I’ve had many non-art-related jobs. But I am grateful for two jobs that helped me connect better to the arts community in New York.

My first was an internship for the artist Mickalene Thomas. At the time she was working towards a large show at the Brooklyn Museum and needed extra help. I only worked there for a few months, but it gave me a huge insight to different ways artists can function and run their studio practices.

The second job was at Denny Gallery (now Denny Dimin Gallery). It was one of those great serendipitous moments at an exhibition opening (which I went to constantly when I first moved to New York, and still do for that matter) when the owner was saying she was looking to hire help. I interviewed that week and worked there for four years. I learned invaluable information about the inside workings of a gallery and the commercial art world from that job. I no longer work there but they now represent me as an artist so it’s still a growing relationship.

 

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

I probably wouldn’t be classified as a joiner while at Holy Cross. But I was involved in GESSO the student gallery in Hogan, I was a Publicity Chair for CAB (Campus Activities Board), and my last year I worked at the Cantor Art Gallery.

 

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

I was declared a studio art major and I believe also a math major when I first arrived at Holy Cross. However, I quickly only want to take art classes and tried to find ways to take as many as I could. I had no idea what career I was going to have.

 

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

I feel in order to answer this I should explain more of what my job entitles, because I certainly did not know this when I got to Holy Cross.

It’s certainly true that most of my time is working on new artwork and projects in my studio. This involves sketching, planning, building panels and painting. I spend a lot of time researching and looking at art in galleries, museums, and at other artists’ studios so I always know what is happening around me and what has happened before me. I also spend more time than I realize on general correspondence and logistics such as shipping, packing and installing artwork. And as with all professions, networking is very important and something I am constantly trying to be better at.

Where I am still very grateful to Holy Cross, is when I am in my studio. Many of the small decisions I constantly make are rooted in what I was taught at school. Decisions such as material choices and being conscious of scale. But also the advice that the first idea is not usually the best and one sketch is helpful but twenty would be much more helpful.

I received great practical advice in my studio classes but perhaps the most important skill they encouraged was to be extremely self-critical. This constantly helps me as an artist and as an entrepreneur.

 

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

Make the most of your time on campus. And what I mean by that is gather as much information and advice from your professors as you can because it’s very hard to find that type of an honest and open mentor relationship after school.

But also, be honest with yourself and realistic about the type of life you hope to lead. I love being an artist and wouldn’t change it for the world, but I may never be financially stable and might live in a studio apartment for the rest of my life!