Menu
Career Development Blog

Career Development Blog

Information for mapping your future

Meet Alum Daniel O’Brien ’17, PhD Candidate, Georgetown

Name: Daniel O’Brien

Class Year: 2017

Title: PhD Candidate at Georgetown

 

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

I’m designing and building a “smart BandAid”-like patch for monitoring patient health.

 

2. What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? 

I wanted to experience physics research, so I applied for and was accepted to an NSF-REU program at Georgetown after my sophomore year at Holy Cross. After, graduation, I ended up returning for grad school.

 

3. How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?    
My department is small and has a great community, just like HC Physics! After getting to know everybody on a first-name basis, I was sure it was the spot for me.

 

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

I was in the society of physics students, acting as president during senior year. The rest of my time was taken by intramural sports.
5. What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?
I was a physics major at HC, and my time in class taught me analytical skills that I’m sure will carry on for years. I hope to stay in STEM, moving to either micro-scale device fabrication, medical work, or climate science after grad school.
6. What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work? 
My writing – every day. I write papers, grant applications, etc. When I’m not in lab, I’m either writing or analyzing data, so I recommend you take those CRAW classes seriously and don’t go skipping lecture.
7. What advice do you have for students today?
Get more involved! I wish I spent more time as an ally & engaging with BSU, Pride, POW, LASO, etc. Every community needs allyship in order to extend its reach, and that’s a sphere I wish I spent more time in. Also: take advantage of those common area requirements. They’re not just check boxes to tick — you can gain so much by really taking advantage of the liberal arts offerings.

 

Meet Alumna Virginia Roach ’81, Stormwater/Green Infrastructure Lead Practitioner

Name: Virginia Roach

Class Year: 1981

Title: Stormwater/Green Infrastructure Lead Practitioner

Organization: CDM Smith

 

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

I am a civil/environmental engineer managing and designing stormwater/combined sewer overflow/green infrastructure systems with CDM Smith Inc. in Boston.

 

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?  

Joined Jesuit Volunteer Corps, teaching 7thand 8th grade in Zuni, New Mexico after graduating from Holy Cross in 1981. Was then enrolled in law school, but read more about civil/environmental engineering in WPI course catalogue and was drawn to it.  Switched to WPI civil/environmental engineering program, and professor recommended me to CDM Smith recruiter visiting campus.  Have been working there since graduating from WPI in 1985.

 

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

Long-distance running, theater, Holy Cross Choir

 

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

Major at Holy Cross was mathematics, and studied junior year abroad in Madrid, Spain.  The combination of mathematics, Spanish language skills and liberal arts provided a great, broad foundation for civil engineering career.  Was able to complete second Bachelor’s Degree in civil/environmental engineering in a little over two years.  Completed Master’s Degree in civil engineering while working at CDM Smith.

 

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

One of the most important skills developed at Holy Cross that has helped me in my career is writing.  Another is the ability to prove ideas through logic, developed from proving mathematical theorems.

 

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

If you are planning to continue your education after Holy Cross in a specialized area, read the course descriptions for the courses you will be taking.  This will give you a better idea of what you are getting into, and you will know better how interested you are in that career.

 

Meet Alumna Regan McCooey ’16, Senior Software Engineer at EverQuote

Name: Regan McCooey

Class Year: 2016

Title: Senior Software Engineer

Organization: EverQuote

 

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

I design and implement backend services that facilitate the auction and distribution mechanics of EverQuote’s insurance marketplace.

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?  

After my sophomore and junior years at Holy Cross, I interned at a bank as a software engineer. Originally, I thought I would end up working there; however, after my second summer, I realized that software engineering in finance wasn’t the right fit for me. I began to look into software engineering roles at larger tech companies. My family friend suggested that I apply to TripAdvisor. I interviewed in October of my senior year and was offered the job. I knew it was a good fit because the people seemed very nice and the culture was exactly what I was looking for. I also wanted to do more consumer facing software that would impact real people rather than just writing programs for the back office of a bank.

I spent 3 years as a Software Engineer at TripAdvisor. I learned more than I could ever imagine and my technical skills grew exponentially. I still loved coding and solving complex problems so I knew software was the right path for me, for now. After a few years at TripAdvisor I wasn’t feeling as challenged as I wanted to be so I started to look for a new job. One of my old colleagues from TripAdvisor messaged me and asked if I was ready for a change, and referred me to EverQuote. I ended up interviewing at EverQuote and a few other places. What made me choose EverQuote was the people seemed awesome and there seemed like a lot of opportunity to grow from a technical and a leadership perspective

I started at EverQuote at the end of March. It’s been great so far! It’s definitely been a challenge remotely onboarding and learning everything without being face to face with your teammates but I’m learning a ton and I know it was the right move for me.

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

I played varsity golf for two years and was on the ski team. I participated in Big Brothers Big Sisters as a mentor, acted as an officer for the Math and CS Club, and was a teaching assistant for computer science.

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

I majored in computer science. The classes I took at Holy Cross inspired my love of programming, and helped me decide to pursue a career as a software engineer. When I took Compiler Construction, an upper level project course that involved a lot of programming, I knew that I wanted to be a software engineer.

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

Besides teaching me how to program, Holy Cross taught me to adapt and to teach myself the skills necessary to solve the new problems I encounter every day. The software industry is very fast paced. Things are constantly changing and you are expected to adapt and learn fast. Working in the industry is also very different from programming at school. Nevertheless, the various projects I completed in my computer science courses challenged me to face the problems in front of me head-on and to find creative solutions. My Holy Cross experience gave me the confidence to take on the new challenges I face every day as a software engineer.

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

I would tell current students that they should never feel unqualified or unable to do a job because they don’t have all of the qualifications listed on a job advertisement. Job postings usually have an intimidating list of qualifications, especially in the software industry. If a student meets even one of those qualifications, they should apply for the job. Holy Cross students should always feel confident that they will be able to learn the specific technology required on the job. Prior to starting at TripAdvisor in 2016 and EverQuote this year, I barely knew the programming languages I use everyday. Also I barely knew how to deploy a service using Amazon Web Services, but I figured it out and was able to help create a deployment pipeline for my team. It’s not about what you know or don’t know now, it’s about how you can adapt yourself to learn what you need to know to succeed.

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.