Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?
I was impressed with the University of Rochester’s progressive approach to course requirements. They didn’t force students to take courses in disciplines outside their interests just to fulfill the required credit hours. I was able to devote my entire college education (and my entire tuition budget) to courses that I found interesting and conducive to my personal strengths. After all, who really remembers first-year calculus anyway?
What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?
I was involved in varsity sports like swimming, as well as club sports like squash and water polo. These served as excellent ways to be engaged in campus life and expand my social circle, as well as stay in shape. As I got older, being a member of a team also helped me gain leadership experience and learn how to handle increasing responsibility over a group effort.
Who were your mentors while you were on campus? Have you continued those relationships?
My coaches and my advisors were instrumental in my success. When I took a class with an instructor I liked and admired, I made a point to request that they be appointed my advisor so that they would take a personal interest in my college career.
What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?
I spent the Fall semester of my senior year applying for graduate school, and the Spring semester applying for jobs. I figured I would do whichever option played out. I got accepted into two graduate programs, but I didn’t land any jobs. One of the schools I could attend (Emerson College) was in the same city as the job I wanted (Editor at a publishing company) but didn’t get. So I decided to move to Boston for school and use my proximity to the publishing company to continue hounding them for any internship they could throw my way. Eventually I got a part-time internship, which turned into an Editorial Assistant job. Now I am a full Editor, and I was still able to keep up my graduate education part-time so I could earn my Master’s degree (and the company even started paying for it).
What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?
Learn how to write well, articulate your thoughts, and develop a strong argument in writing. Even if you’re not an Editor, these skills are vital to any job because they frame the way people perceive you. If you can’t write a cohesive email message or speak to a particular audience, or if you have poor grammar and spelling, then you’ll find it much harder to get ahead. Along those same lines, learn multimedia tools and software programs for communicating as well. Interactive video presentations and dynamic PowerPoint slides are becoming increasingly important as ways to convey information. Finding creative ways to disseminate your work will help you stand out from your colleagues.
What advice do you have for current students?
Get as much job experience as possible. Volunteer for anything even remotely related to a field you might want to be in one day. Find people in the community you admire and figure out a way to be involved in what they are doing. Jobs are more often than not the result of a personal relationship. Get out and meet people, and then keep in touch with those people.