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, MBA Candidate at Yale School of Management

Meet Alumna Michelle Schefter ’16, MBA Candidate at Yale School of Management

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.

Meet Alum Chad Wright ’92, Senior Director of IT, Amazon Robotics

Meet Alum Chad Wright ’92, Senior Director of IT, Amazon Robotics 


In one sentence, what does your job entail?  

As Senior Director of IT, I am responsible for the overall strategy and delivery of IT services, such as enterprise software, infrastructure, information security and service desk, that help our organization operate safely and efficiently.


What were you involved in when you were on campus?  

When I was on campus, I was a member of the Calculus Workshop (which also included the inaugural Computer Workshop) and a TA that graded lots of math homework.  Though my baseball career was very brief (one season), my friends and I played just about every intramural sport the college offered.


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

I was a Mathematics major with a concentration in Computer Science.  I studied what I loved and it led me into the direction of my career today.  I didn’t know anything about Information Technology and that’s why I’m so passionate about helping students learn more about the industry and be prepared for the opportunities that await them.


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 graduated, I had two job offers.  The first was a math and computer science teaching position with athletic coaching responsibilities at a private school in Long Island, NY.  The second offer was to join a database marketing software company as a business analyst that was much closer to my family and friends in MA.  I decided to take the business analyst role not really knowing what I was getting into, but because it was a growing company with challenging business problems and a teaching and learning culture, I decided to take a chance.  It turned out that I enjoyed the work and really excelled at it.


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

The most important skills are critical thinking and problem-solving.  As a manager, mentor and coach, I find it’s very difficult to teach someone how to think critically or make them a better problem solver without investing an extraordinary amount of time and effort.  Holy Cross helped me develop my skills to look at each challenge pragmatically, to find new and creative ways to solve a problem – whether it be about people or about technology.  Leaving Holy Cross, I became a better reader, writer and listener.  These skills are critical to the success I’ve had in my various IT roles throughout my career.


Alumni Job Shadowing Program: Marialena Bevilacqua ’20

Meet Marialena Bevilacqua ’20 who participated in the Alumni Job Shadowing Program at Amazon Robotics 

Full Name: Marialena Bevilacqua
Class Year: 2020
Major: Mathematics
Shadowing Visit Site: Amazon Robotics
1. Describe your visit and what did you gain from the experience?
During Christmas Break, I shadowed Mr. Chad Wright at Amazon Robotics, in North Reading, Massachusetts. The original date that Mr. Wright and I had planned for was altered due to the biggest storm of the winter occurring during my visit to Massachusetts. Later on in January, I finally made it to the site. When I first got to Amazon Robotics, I walked by a large cement floor, where robots were being produced,  tested, and were carrying around tall boxes.   Soon after that, Mr. Wright explained to me what the company does, who works at the company, and what his position and daily routines are at the company. Throughout the day, I met with people of various job titles, including a Business Intelligence Developer, Business Systems Analysis, a Project Manager, a Mechanical and Electrical Engineer, as well as a Security Engineer and a Help Desk Technician. Each career and job position had its own purposes and responsibilities, and each employee had their own path in order to achieve their current position. It was extremely interesting to learn how each employee got to where they are and what steps they took in order to achieve their goals and fulfill their daily responsibilities at work. What I gained most from this experience was learning that there are many possible career opportunities for STEM majors, and that there are many different paths to travel down in order to achieve ones’ future career goals. At the end of the day, Mr. Wright brought me for a tour of the site where I was able to piece together how each persons’ role played an important part in the overall production and success of the company. Overall, it was a great experience and I was able to visit a unique and interesting company that I would have not been able to explore without the Alumni Job Shadowing program.
2. How did this experience influence or connect to your future career plans/goals?
As a Mathematics major, the most common route to follow post-graduation is to become involved in the business or finance fields. But this experience opened my eyes to the vast opportunities that exist for a math major in the technology sector. Within technology, a mathematics major can obtain a degree in engineering, computer science, and other scientific fields. There are also opportunities to be involved in business or finance within a technology company. For a math major who is interested in Finance, but does not want to work on Wall Street, a technology company is another great alternative. Learning about all of these new and fascinating career opportunities opened my eyes to potential careers that I was not aware of prior to my visit with Mr. Wright at Amazon Robotics.

3. What is some helpful advice your alumni host shared with you?

 Some helpful advice my alumni host shared with me was to do everything I can in order to prepare myself for a variety of future careers. For example, Mr. Wright suggested that I take Computer Programming in order to open up doors to various technology opportunities that might present themselves in my future. It might even be helpful to take technology courses at schools that offer these classes, such as WPI, in order to better my chances at a future in the technology field. This is advice that I had never received before, and am sure that it will prove to be beneficial to myself and my future.
4. Why would you recommend the Alumni Job Shadowing Program to other students?
I would most definitely recommend the Alumni Job Shadowing Program to other students. This experience allows you to connect with a Holy Cross alumni who has shared similar experiences to your own, and shows you what your work-life and future employment could look like in years to come.  The job shadowing program provides you with someone who becomes a role model, as well as goals that one might aspire to achieve. On the contrary, the Alumni Job Shadowing Program may provide a student with an idea of what they do not want to do with the rest of their life, which is just as equally beneficial, and sets the student on a mission to explore exactly what they want to do and participate in more shadowing  experiences. All-in-all, I had an amazing experience at Amazon Robotics this winter break, and was fortunate enough to connect with another member of “Sader Nation,” all thanks to the Alumni Job Shadowing Program.

My Alumni Job Shadowing Experience at Bocoup

Name: Francy Mata
Class Year: 2019
Major: Economics
Shadowing Visit Site: Bocoup

Describe your visit and what did you gain from the experience?

My visit was very helpful for me. In the beginning of the day, I was able to sit down with the alumni and talk about his experience transitioning from Holy Cross to the workplace. One thing I was particularly worried about was finding a job when it came time to graduate. He was able to provide some very helpful tips to overcome some of the problems students face when attempting to find employment. Throughout the rest of the day, I was able to learn about Bocoup and their role in helping other firms with their software needs and desire. All in all, it was a very beneficial experience.

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

One major way this experience influences my future career goals is that software was an industry I was considering getting into prior to my visit. Throughout my visit, I was able to learn what the daily life of an employee in software was like. By gaining this insight I have learned that my perception of what software was like was slightly misaligned to what it actually is. Because of this I have determined that software will not be an industry that I would like to get into when I graduate. I believe this visit will help me greatly in the future since I will have already determined that I will not be looking for employment in software. I will be able to avoid a lot of stress and save an enormous amount of time.

What is some helpful advice your alumni host shared with you?

One piece of advice that he shared was the idea that while academic achievement may be important it is not the only important aspect of the college experience. He encouraged me to find things I enjoy and can keep doing these things even if they are completely unrelated to my field study.

Why would you recommend the Alumni Job Shadowing Program to other students?

The Alumni Job Shadowing Program allowed me to not only be exposed to the professional world of software but it also allowed me to build a meaningful relationship with an alumni that I can draw back on. These reasons made AJSP invaluable.

Want to explore an interest? Consider applying to the Winter Break Alumni Job Shadowing Program and spend the day with an alum. Click the button below to learn more about the application process.

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

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.

Seniors: This Week’s Deadlines and Events!!

The jobs keep coming in!  Employers are hiring!

Tuesday, April 5
Deadlines: Apply via Crusader Connections

  • Consulting: Kantar Retail – Client Service Analyst; Project Analyst: Business Analytics; Project Analyst: Shopper Insights; Research Associate
  • Education:  Readak Educational Services – Teacher (On-Campus Interviews 4/18)

Thursday, April 7
On-Campus Interviews: Insight Global, Inc. (Recruiting)  Good Luck!

  • Development/Fundraising: The Worcester Roots Project – Fundraising and Research Coordinator

Looking Ahead:
Plenty of employers are interested in hiring Holy Cross seniors!
Upcoming deadlines include:
Tuesday, April 12
City Bridge Foundation, Program Assistant – Perfect for those of you interested in education but not in teaching!

Thursday, April 14
Bowditch & Dewey, LLP, Business & Finance Practice Area – Law
Cyber-Ark Software, Associate Technical Account Manager – Software Implementation
Peoplecube, Junior Implementation Consultant – Software Implementation
Willis Group, Benefit Associate – Insurance Brokerage

Monday, April 18
US Commission on International Religious Freedom, Joseph R. Crapa Fellowship – Research

Tuesday, April 19
CBI Research, Conference Program Manager – Event Planning

Thursday, April 21
Oracle Direct, Business Development Consultant – Sales

Friday, April 22
Eze Castle Software, Business Consultant, Leadership Development Program, Software Developer

Tuesday, April 26
Peace Corps, Volunteer – Lobby Table Hogan 1

Thursday, April 28
National Security Education Program – National Security & Defense

Friday, April 29
Barton Associates, Drop-in session hosted by Kregory Hefner ’09.  Stop by any time – Healthcare Recruiting & Staffing Firm

Apply via Crusader Connections for all these jobs

We’re available by appointment (M-F, 9 – 5 – call 508.793.3880 or stop by Hogan 203 to schedule) or visit us during drop-in hours, M-F, 1-4pm, no appointment necessary.

Don’t know what you want to do or where to start?

No Problem!  Set up an appointment by calling 508.793.3880 or stop by Hogan 203.