Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Joy Getnick

jgetnickName:  Joy Getnick

UR Major:  History

Other UR Majors/Minors: Health and Society, Judaic Studies

Additional Education: PhD in History, Certificate in Core Public Health Concepts

Current City, State of Residence: Rochester, NY

Job Title: Jewish Program Director; Adjunct Lecturer

Employer: Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester; SUNY Geneseo

Community Activities: My JCC job encompasses many of my community activities.  I’m also active in my synagogue’s youth committee.

How did you choose your major(s)?

I’ve always really liked history.  I was particularly drawn to the variety of upper-level courses offered by the UR History Department.  I began to realize that history could be a career.  The final decision factor was the availability of courses in the history of medicine and public health.  These courses, and the guidance of Professor Ted Brown, enabled me to transition from a career path focused on the practice of medicine or public health to one focused on the history of medicine and public health.

Who were your mentors while you were on campus? Have you continued those relationships?

I have not continued my relationships with my undergraduate advisor.  They are there for undergraduates, not for me.  Take advantage of those relationships while you can.  They won’t be there when you’re gone.

What is your opinion regarding graduate school vs. working right after graduation? 

I went to graduate school right after graduating and, for me, it was absolutely the right decision.  I knew that I wanted to pursue a doctoral degree in history, and more importantly I knew in what fields I wanted to specialize.  This enabled me to pick a doctoral program that was the right match for me.  However, I think some of my peers may have benefited from more work experience.  My recommendation: go to graduate school right after undergrad if you either a) know what you want, or b) know that if you don’t go right away you’ll never go back.  Otherwise work, and then go to grad school when you really know what you want to do.

What early career advice can you give to current UR students studying history?

You have to do this for you.  There are not an abundance of jobs in the field, even with a PhD.  You study history because it makes you a more educated, informed, complete citizen of the world.  That knowledge, and the writing skills acquired along way, will go with you wherever you go.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career? Where would you like to be in five years?

I work as the Jewish Program Director at the JCC of Greater Rochester.  I absolutely love it.  Although technically a PhD in History is certainly not required, my education comes with me, and influences all that I do.  I also work as an adjunct instructor at SUNY Geneseo.  I am fortunate to be able to work at such a great institution, teaching in my field.  In five years I hope to be exactly where I am now, just wiser, more experienced, and more skilled.