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Career Development Blog

Information for mapping your future

Meet Alumna Sarah Newton ’16, Software Engineer at Liberty Mutual

Name: Sarah Newton

Class Year: 2016

Position: Software Engineer

Organization: Liberty Mutual

 

1. In one sentence, what does your job entail?
I am a software engineer at Liberty Mutual. I support and maintain the actuarial applications used by the finance department.
2. What were you involved in when you were on campus?
I was part of the Math/CS club and I helped run Tea and Games in the math lounge. I was also a Kimball Captain, which was very fulfilling and where I developed lifelong friendships. 
3. What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?
I was a math major with a computer science minor. I was looking for a career where I could explore both avenues and supporting actuarial applications turned out to be a great fit.
4. 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 first began the job search my senior year, I was not sure where to begin. Most of my fellow math and CS classmates were looking at grad schools and startup companies. My roommate’s father worked at Liberty Mutual and he suggested I apply there. I had not even considered an insurance company as a career option, but Liberty Mutual is dedicated to technology. I love the security a large company provides and because the technology department is so large, I have plenty of opportunities to explore different paths. 
5. What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work
Holy Cross taught me how to make valuable connections with people. Because my job requires working directly with users and people from other parts of the organization, I have found my ability to communicate to be very important.  I also found Holy Cross gave me the opportunity to have fun even when I was under pressure. Life is full of stressful situations, whether it is a project deadline for server upgrades or three math midterms in the same week, and I think it is important to be able to laugh.

Meet Alum Ray Murphy ’94, Director, Enterprise Applications at Northeastern University

Name: Ray Murphy

Class Year: 1994

Position: Director, Enterprise Applications/DevOps

Organization: Northeastern University

 

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

I manage a team of a dozen or so people that maintain and support the computer systems used by the university’s faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents, applicants, etc.

 

2. What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decided it was a good fit for you?  

As far as how I got connected, my eventual employer was run by an HC grad. I actually heard about the job when a classmate of mine got a job offer from this company but turned it down. I followed up and eventually got the same offer. (Tip: don’t forget your classmates in your networking!

 

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

I was sports editor of The Crusader, and had a work/study job maintaining a couple of the computer labs in Haberlin/Swords.

 

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

I was looking for a first job in computer industry after graduating as a math major (HC didn’t even have a CS major yet, just a concentration!). I fell in love with HC on my tour in high school, and enrolled despite the fact that it didn’t have the major I wanted. I muddled through a lot of math classes. The only way that affected my career is that I never really learned to code, but I’ve had no trouble carving a career path in the industry without that skill.

 

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

More and more, I use my liberal arts skills more than the skills from my major. From my first job search to this day, I always position myself as someone who has technical aptitude, but also has the ability to communicate those technical concepts, to think critically about them and to see the big picture. That’s a story that always plays well in interview settings, etc.

 

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

For sure, it’s important to put in the time and effort to find your first job and get your career off to a good start. But you’re going to have a long career, and whether it starts in June or September won’t matter at all in the long term. But especially for seniors, make sure you soak in these last couple of months at HC… you can’t get those back.

Meet Alum Nicholas Harper ’18, Business Analyst

Name: Nicholas Harper

Class Year: 2018

Position: Business Analyst

Company: College of the Holy Cross

 

1.  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.

2. 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.

3. 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. I plan on attending graduate school for computational finance, which is a fairly natural combination of these two fields.

4. 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.

5. 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 #CrusaderIntern Karina Ramos ’20, Lab Technician Intern

Name: Karina Ramos

Class Year: 2020

Internship position: Intern- Lab Technician

Employer: Proveris Scientific Corporation

1. Tell us about where you interned over the summer and the kind of work you are doing.

This summer at Proveris, my main duties included running experiments for the Senior Applications Chemist and Senior Field Scientist in the chemistry laboratory. Specifically, the company’s focus is in advancing the aerosol and nasal spray technology industry, so the majority of my time was collecting data off the instrumentation and analyzing it using custom software designed by the company. Not only was I working within my immediate team, but also spent much of my time communicating and deliberating with the engineering, sales, and manufacturing teams. These wide range of duties allowed me to have a holistic understanding of the inner workings that is the pharmaceutical industry.

2. Give us an example of how you have applied your academic learnings to your internship?

Just before I began my internship, I took Analytical and Instrumental Chemistry. In this course we learned how to read scholarly journals by meticulously studying currently published works and modeling common practices in our own papers. This skill of reading with intention allowed me to become more efficient and confident in my ability to read papers that at first seem too complex to understand. Some of my duties this summer included doing research on past literature in the field to further develop methods for more efficient data collection. My confidence in reading peer reviewed journals and gathering a consensus of the paper’s findings made me a valuable asset in the method development step in conducting experiments.

3. What has surprised you about being an intern?

I have been pleasantly surprised at how eager my department was to allow me to troubleshoot issues in the instrumentation and software on my own. Also, within the first couple of weeks working full-time, I was grateful enough to receive some projects that I could effectively work on myself. Working for a smaller company gave me more autonomy in day to day tasks that lead to working on customer projects independently and with confidence from my supervisors. I am thankful to be given so much responsibility at the intern level.

4. How did this experience influence or connect to your future career plans / goals?

This experience allowed me to expand my network not only into the Holy Cross alumni network, but also into the pharma industry. Working in industry instead of research (which is what I have only been exposed to) has given a good insight to what a routine looks like working for pharma.

5. Any internship advice to pass on to other Holy Cross students?

Network with alumni at the beginning of your junior year so they keep you in mind when applications come out in the spring! Also apply to a variety of different fields in different locations around the country.

Meet Alumna Alison Cheung ’06, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Space Systems and Technology Division

Full Name: Alison Cheung

Class Year: 2006

Title: Engineer, Space Systems and Technology Division

Organization: MIT Lincoln Laboratory

 

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

My job entails designing and validating software to control and collect data from space surveillance sensors (optical telescopes and radar) that observe, track, and characterize space objects.

 

 

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

At Holy Cross, I was involved in the Holy Cross Chamber Orchestra, the Goodtime Marching Band, Calculus Workshop Tutoring, Society of Physics Students, SPUD, and Appalachia.

 

 

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

I was a double major in mathematics and physics.  This provided me with a strong foundation to go in a variety of science directions.  I never had a specific path in mind so this gave me lots of options.

 

 

4. 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 sophomore year, I received an email about an opportunity for physics students to apply for an internship at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory funded through the Massachusetts Space Grant Consortium.  I didn’t expect it, but jumped on the opportunity, put together a resume and cover letter, and had phone interviews with potential mentors.  I spent the summers after my sophomore, junior, and senior years at JPL and knew this field and environment was what I wanted.  After completing graduate school, I called my mentor and said I wanted to return to JPL as a full-time employee.  My internship, that came about because of Holy Cross, got me my internship at JPL.  My performance during that internship allowed me to return subsequent summers and ultimately lead to my first full-time job where I worked on mission operations for the Cassini spacecraft that was orbiting Saturn.

 

 

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

Holy Cross helped me develop confidence in my abilities by being in a small setting where professors could suggest opportunities that I would not have pursued on my own.  One of these opportunities was independent study during the academic year where I was able to develop research skills.  Particularly useful was the ability to navigate dead-ends and uncertainty in where an approach might lead.

Meet Alum Rusmir Musić ’01, Global Business Development Lead for EDGE Green Buildings Program

Name: Rusmir Musić

Class Year: 2001

Title/Company: Global Business Development Lead for the EDGE Green Buildings Market Transformation Program

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

I am the Global Business Development Lead for the EDGE Green Buildings Market Transformation Program, an initiative by the World Bank Group to raise awareness around benefits of green construction.

 

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

I was an RA for Alumni and Senior RA for Hanselman; I was heavily involved with Allies and ABiGaLe, including serving as co-chair; I also did behind the scenes work and producing for ACT – Alternate College Theatre.

 

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

I majored in Chemistry but I had a well rounded curriculum in humanities, including almost being a minor in religious studies. I left the sciences behind for a period of time and worked as a career counselor, but then returned back to my job at the World Bank, where I work in the climate business department. The major has prepared me with a great work ethic and an understanding of sciences needed for doing business in the new, clean economy.

 

4. 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 Holy Cross, I worked in higher education, with connections from my student involvement as an RA and later as a Graduate Housing Assistant. I decided to switch careers and focus more on sustainability, so I enrolled in an MBA program at Georgetown. During the MBA, I heavily networked with professionals in the DC area, whom I was meeting through referrals. One of those meetings led to a job offer at the World Bank.

 

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

I approach problem-solving like I approached my Chemistry labs – you figure out where you think you need to be and you work backwards, figuring out what ‘ingredients’ and what ‘reactions’ you need to implement along the way. I also learned a lot about interpersonal dynamics – my RA position taught me how to better read people, how to be comfortable with public speaking, and how to influence group consensus.

Meet Alum, Viennie Chanthachack ’11, Campus Recruiting Coordinator, HubSpot

Name: Viennie Chanthachack

Class Year: 2011

Title: Campus Recruiting Coordinator

Organization: HubSpot

 

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

In my role as a campus recruiting coordinator at HubSpot, I’m responsible for planning remarkable events aimed to help students discover career opportunities in our global offices, while also ensuring students have a positive interviewing experience with our team.

 

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

I was involved in many student orgs, but back then, I was most active as a CAB (Campus Activities Board) co-chair, a Fall and Summer Orientation Leader, and as a graphic artist for the Student Involvement office.

 

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

As a Psychology major at Holy Cross, you take classes that help you understand human behavior through a number of different perspectives and then apply that knowledge through research. Through that journey, I learned that I loved to be analytical and critically think through solving interesting problems. That discovery not only helped me define my personal career goals, but also the types of opportunities I wanted to pursue after graduation.

 

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?

While working in Professor (Patricia) Kramer’s research lab during my senior year, I was unexpectedly enamored by the technologies we used to organize and conduct our research. From the software to the equipment we used, I increasingly grew interested in how our technology worked, and constantly thought about how I could enable the team to do our work best in the lab. That love for helping people, like my research group, find technology solutions ultimately inspired my decision to go into the tech industry. After graduation, I was fortunate to start my journey working for Apple. After a month into the role, I knew it was the right fit because I was aligning my passion for helping others everyday with tasks and projects that naturally leveraged my skills and strengths.

 

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

When you take Research Methods as a psychology major, you learn about and practice the methods and techniques used in psychological research. Things like experimental design and statistical analysis are skills that I use daily in my role. Our team is always trying to identify ways to improve the candidate interviewing experience. To do that, we regularly design experiments and analyze data to test processes that we hypothesize will have positive outcomes on our candidates during their interview process. During a time in which businesses are becoming more data-driven in their decision making, these skills are becoming more and more invaluable in the workplace.

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 Alum Matt Surabian ’07, Senior Infrastructure Engineer at Zipcar

Meet Alum Matt Surabian ’07, Senior Infrastructure Engineer at Zipcar

 

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

I create systems, write software, and maintain open source tooling that helps ensure Zipcar’s new technology platform is always able to deliver an awesome experience to our members no matter how many of them are using the service at the same time.

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

On campus I was most active in Residence Life as an RA and HRA of Clark (the best dorm). I also tutored students through the math department, helped out in ITS as an RCC, and worked in the art department as a dark room tech.

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

I came to Holy Cross as a mathematics and theater double major interested in working at the NSA. While researching an NSA summer internship I had a change of heart and ended up a computer science major interested in security and encryption.

Even though I didn’t finish my math major, I took most of the required courses and that foundation has helped me reason about complex algorithms, distributed systems, and the underpinnings of various encryption methods. My sophomore year I spent the summer doing research in the Math Department with Professor Hwang writing ray tracing software for modeling equations in 3D. That experience was one of the first times I wrote code to help solve a non-trivial problem and it really cemented for me that I wanted to be a programmer.
 
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 started at Holy Cross, Computer Science was still a new major and there weren’t many alumni connections in the field. I used what little I knew to hustle programming work on the side to try and improve my resume. My work in the art department and interest in photography unexpectedly connected me with someone who worked at Bose. We were talking one day and he casually mentioned some difficulties they were having trying to find someone to write a piece of mapping software his team needed. I offered to help and the next thing I knew I was a freelance programmer for Bose’s live music division.
I used this initial “break” in the industry as a stepping stone to get more freelance work at a local startup (MySeniorCenter) going into my senior year. By graduation I had a full-time job lined up at a local creative agency (CGI Interactive) where I was exposed to a lot of different companies, technologies, and technical challenges. I really loved the work and I spent almost 5 years there before leaving to join a team that was maintaining the software behind lots of high traffic websites like TMZ and NewsCorp. If it weren’t for the breadth of experience I gained working at my first post college employer I wouldn’t have known the job I have today even existed. I knew working on high traffic systems was a good fit for me because it seemed to scare people, I loved it, and my laid back vibes seemed to help put my colleagues at ease.
What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

For all its glamour the tech industry is infamous for some toxic cultural issues. I’ve been fortunate to work directly for companies that have been welcoming, inclusive, and supportive, but as a consultant I witnessed toxic tech culture first hand a few times. The culture of “men and women for others” at Holy Cross helped make me a more mindful person than I was when I first arrived on Mount St. James and gave me the tools to productively talk about social issues. I feel this has helped me be a better colleague, leader, and agent for change in an industry that has serious social challenges. I’m by no means at the forefront of this effort, and still have a lot to learn; but I absolutely credit Holy Cross for making me more prepared to take part.

I also think the way Holy Cross encourages students to explore a wide range of subjects and not simply focus on their major has helped me bring a more well rounded perspective to technical challenges. A former boss once said that I was able to, “take the often abstract concepts of programming and interpret it into a vocabulary business staff can understand”, I believe the liberal arts foundation provided by Holy Cross honed that skill.

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.