Posts Tagged ‘Career Community: Tech’

ALUMNI INTERVIEW: I was a double major in mathematics and physics, now I…

September 11th, 2017 by eklamm

Meet Alison Cheung ’06, Engineer at MIT Lincoln Laboratory.

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

I work sensors such as a large optical telescope to monitor the space environment and enable the nation to meet the challenges of an increasingly congested and contested space domain.

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 at Holy Cross, I was informed of an opportunity via email from the physics department to get funding through the Massachusetts Space Grant Consortium for a summer internship at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).  I had been looking at various internship opportunities from the financial industry to the department of defense, but had not previously thought about NASA or the space industry.  After submitting a resume and talking to a mentor at JPL, I jumped on this opportunity.  I worked hard that summer, had frequent conversations with my mentor, and fell in love with the work environment and the space missions.  This resulted in me returning for a total of three summers under the same mentors but with exposure to various mission areas.  Knowing that a graduate degree is incredibly valuable in this type of environment, I attended graduate school but kept in contact with my JPL mentors.  After completing my master’s degree, I chose to return to JPL as full-time staff.

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

On campus I was involved in the marching band/pep band, Holy Cross Chamber Orchestra, Society of Physics Students, Science Student Ambassadors, SPUD, and admissions office host for prospective students.

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

I was a double major in mathematics and physics.  I always had a hard time picking a favorite between these majors and struggled to decide which area to go to graduate school in.  Ultimately, I looked for ways to keep a balance of both fields and have continued to do so.

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

My first exposure to MATLAB was at Holy Cross during my senior year and have continued to use MATLAB on a regular basis since then.  Additionally, Holy Cross helped me develop my communication and interpersonal skills that often set me apart from others in my field.

What advice do you have for students on campus today?

My largest piece of advice for students on campus today is to seize any opportunity that comes your way and work hard to make a positive impression.  This could mean being the first to submit a resume or respond to an email.  Don’t worry about how the opportunity came about and don’t doubt your qualifications.  Imposter syndrome is a real thing.  Instead of thinking about why you were given an opportunity, put your energy into making the most of that opportunity so that it leads to further opportunities.  When gaps in your knowledge arise, ask good questions and continuously improve.

ALUMNI INTERVIEW: I Was a History Major, Now I am Senior Manager of Enterprise Support

August 9th, 2017 by eklamm

Meet John Vatalaro ’13, Sr. Manager of Enterprise Support at Yext.

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

I oversee the technical support and training provided to some of Yext’s largest and most strategic enterprise customers and their franchisees.

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 found Yext through a one of my Holy Cross roommate’s cousins.  A little networking over drinks got me connected with her friend who worked at Yext.  After a few emails, I was on site for an interview and it was a perfect match right away.  It was the summer after graduation and I had only recently been exploring a possible career in tech, mostly focused around customer service, and this role was a really great fit at a small and exciting company.  Joining a ~200 person venture-funded start-up in NYC was certainly not what I was expecting after graduation, but I just couldn’t turn away from the people, the perks, the company’s mission, and the product.  After joining, I quickly realized it was a place I could learn, grow, and excel quickly with incredibly talented people (including some other HC alumni!) so it was a great environment for me.

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

Outside of classes, Men’s Varsity Swimming and my part-time job as a Kimball Captain took up most of my time but I was also involved in Student Athlete Advisory Committee, Varsity Club, HC Goes Unified, College Advisory Board on Alcohol, House Council, and Inter-House Council.

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

I majored in history and minored in art history.  They originally drove me to want to pursue a career in the arts, but later I realized my love of history and art history was more just a passion for learning, understanding people, and recognizing patterns, regardless of the subject matter.  This allowed me to move into tech, where I had the opportunity to apply those skills to become a product and process expert.  As a result, I put myself in a spot to share that knowledge and empower others, whether customers or teammates, to succeed.  Since then, I’ve leaned heavily on my liberal arts education to help me understand varied aspects of our business simply because I understand how to analyze a situation, think through problems, and see the big picture.

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

How to work with others: Being on the swim team, working in the dining hall, living with new friends, and collaborating on schoolwork with others provided me plenty of opportunities to develop the invaluable social and communication skills that helped mold me into the person I am today. You can be the smartest person in the room, but if you can’t get along with others or speak up about your opinion you won’t get very far.

How to give a damn: Really dive into something you care about.  This will help you apply that same passion and drive towards your job/career.  In school,  maybe it’s a passion for competition, learning, helping others, solving problems, or being funny – whatever it is, find it!  When hiring for my teams, I’m always looking for someone who gives a damn about their work or their passions over someone who appears qualified on paper.

What advice do you have for students on campus today?

Take the classes and do the activities that you actually get enjoyment out of.  If there’s anything I’ve learned in school or in my career, it’s that you do your best work when you’re challenged by something you enjoy.  So find that class, find that extracurricular, and find a job that brings your joy.  The grades, success, the “right job”, and even money will fall into place if you focus on that.

ALUMNI INTERVIEW: I Was A Political Science Major, Now I…

May 3rd, 2017 by eklamm

Name: Payton Shubrick
Class Year: 2015
Title: R&D Lab Manager (Research and Development Lab Manager)
Organization Name: MassMutual
Major: Political Science

What does your job entail?

My role is to manage R&D activities for the company, specific to home office employees. What that means is I attempt to solve business problems leveraging emerging technologies as well as exploring technologies that could impact our industry in the next 12-18 months. What does that mean in plain English? I look for the return on investment a technology can offer. Can we save 2 million dollars be leveraging VR for training sessions as opposed to the current model of paying facilitators and having in classroom sessions?

How has your Holy Cross education contributed to your success?

My Holy Cross education has contributed to my success in many ways. At Holy Cross, I was able to grow – socially, intellectually, ethically, etc. I often find myself harnessing skills that I developed in both the classroom and student activities, like SGA and BSU, to propel me forward professionally. At Holy Cross, I was able to develop a greater sense of awareness of who I was as a person and how I can impact the world around me. With that mindset, you can rethink traditional business problems with many lenses to come up with a solution and then be able to present that idea in a well-written document or verbal presentation.

What skills are most important in your day to day work?

The most important skill in my work is being able to check, adjust, and pivot. Unlike traditional career paths with technology, you can come up with a solution and then discard the entire thing for something better because a smart algorithm can now be applied. This means you can’t grow too attached to one solution or one way to solve a problem. Everything is a fair game all the time and things change rapidly, so accept change early and fast to make life easier later.

What advice would you give to a Holy Cross student looking to enter your field?

Start studying trends in technology now. Virtual/ augmented reality, chatbots, algorithms, autonomous driving cars, artificial intelligence are real and going to change the world around us. In your day to day, life start to think about how things can simplify your life and delivery information before you know you want it.