Spotlight on Humanities and Social Sciences Alumni: Emily Discenza

discName: Emily Discenza

UR Major: Economics

Other UR Majors/Minors: Italian Studies

Additional Education: Part Time Simon School Student – MS Accountancy

Current City, State of Residence: Rochester NY

Job Title: Senior Associate

Employer: KTB Capital LLC.

How did you choose your major(s)?

I mistakenly thought that “economics” was a comparative substitute to being a business major. I hear undergrads today have the option to study either; however, I’m glad I studied economics. It gave me a broader and better sense of how our society works both economically and socially.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was involved in Greek life, club sports, and the study abroad program. Studying abroad was hands down one of my most valuable college experiences. I gained a very close group of friends I would not have otherwise had. You may have the opportunity later in life to travel internationally, but few of us will have the opportunity to live abroad and establish a home outside the US, so do it now!

What did you wish you had known before graduating? What would you have done differently?

Grades are important; however, I wish I would have put more emphasis on gaining professional experience while in college. Internships both during and in between semesters are key in getting the job you want after college. Get good grades, but don’t forget to balance your time studying with networking and utilizing the career center.

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

Unless you have had substantial and diverse real-world business internships, put a pin in grad school after graduation. Grad school is a huge financial and physical albeit worthwhile investment. You need to know exactly what you want to pursue before making the commitment and you really won’t know that until you experience business areas outside of the classroom.

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

Currently my position is a mix of financial reporting, investor relations, and property management for a real estate investment and management company. In five years I would like to have my MS in Accounting as well as a CMA and use those credentials to add value to a well established REIT in the city of my choice.

Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Matthew Starr

starrName: Matthew Starr

UR Major: History

UR Minor: Judaic Studies

Current City, State of Residence: Boston, MA

Job Title: Project Coordinator

Employer: Boston Showcase Company

How did you choose your major(s)?

I was completely unsure of what I wanted to study when I first got to UR. After an experiment-gone-bad with Calculus and Econ as a freshman, I quickly realized that I got the most out of the classes I was most interested in and passionate about. And to be as cliché as possible, the rest is history.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was on the football team as a freshman and the track and field team as a freshman and sophomore, but after a back injury derailed my athletic career, I became involved with the Campus Times, mostly writing sports. Senior year, I had the privilege of having my own weekly column: “A View from a Starr” and I couldn’t have been happier about the way I transitioned from playing sports to writing about them. I was also a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon while at the University and learned an innumerable amount of lessons in leadership, loyalty and camaraderie.

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

After being in school my entire life, it was great to move onto the working world. Now that I’ve had some time to work in a variety of jobs and gain some valuable experience, I am getting excited to return to graduate (business) school and further develop skills that I know will directly benefit my career. Sometimes people go to graduate school because it is just a logical step out of college, but I think it makes a lot more sense to go try something new, see where it takes you and then go back to school because you want to, not because you think you should.

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

People are typically skeptical of how a history degree prepares one for a job in the “real world”, but what I realized is that students who find jobs directly related to their major are the exception, not the norm. Studying history not only made me more knowledgeable about the world we live in, but taught me the critical thinking and life skills that prepared me to “just figure it out” at some of my first jobs.

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

After a two year stint in the television production industry in LA, I returned home to work for my family business in Boston. Our company – Boston Showcase – designs, builds and supplies a wide-range of customers in the commercial foodservice industry. It is great working with my family and continuing the legacy started by my great grandfather 100 years ago. Over the next five years, I look forward to continuing the modernization of the company and regularly finding and pursuing new avenues of business opportunity.

Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Thomas Shay

ShayName: Thomas Shay ’06

Education (UR and additional): BS (Geomechanics), University of Rochester, 2006; MBA (Strategic Management), Pace University, 2011

Current city/state of residence: Norwalk, CT

Job Title: Civil Engineer/Project Technical Specialist

Employer: Woodard & Curran

Family: Krista (wife) and Finley (dog)

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?  

I originally learned about the University of Rochester when I was being recruited to play football. I had attended a couple other college visits but when I got to the University of Rochester it just felt like the right place for me. The Campus was beautiful, just the right size, exceptional academics, and the opportunity to play football…a recipe for success.

When and how did you choose your major?  

I decided sometime later on in high school that being a doctor was way too much school. I was always competent and interested in math and science so I ultimately decided on engineering. I narrowed that down to mechanical engineering prior to arriving at the University of Rochester and then stumbled upon the geomechanics major once I decided that I was most interested in civil, geotechnical, and environmental engineering (all programs that were not actually offered by the University of Rochester). I had no interest in transferring so I was hopeful that the geomechanics degree program would lead me to a job in civil, geotechnical, or environmental engineering, which it ultimately did.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was involved with the football program over the course of my four years at Rochester. This was a very enlightening and rewarding experience for me. A few things that my college football experience taught me were how to manage my time effectively, that I had to have confidence in myself, the importance of sacrifice, and that what you get out of something depends on what you put in.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

I decided that I was ready to take the next step in my life and get a job after graduating. I figured that this is what I had gone to college for and now it was time to get a return on my investment. In January or February of my senior year, I successfully interviewed for and was offered a position as an engineer with an engineering consulting firm in White Plains, NY. I started working in June as an entry level civil/environmental engineer and later specialized in site/civil engineering which is what I currently do today. I am currently involved with the planning, permitting, design, and construction oversight of various private and municipal site development projects.

How do you balance your work and personal life?

Balancing work and my personal life is certainly a challenge, especially when you begin to develop a family, in my case a wife and a dog. I like to think of engineering consulting, or any profession for that matter, as a lifestyle decision. It is important to understand as best as possible the different demands that your profession will put on your life. In my case, I may have to attend public meeting in the evenings, work over the weekend to finish a project to meet a deadline, or travel long distance for projects for an extended period of time. At times this makes it a challenge to keep a routine for things such as recreational activities or to simply get home in time for dinner. It is important to maintain a flexible schedule and to take advantage of free time when it becomes available.

What advice do you have for current students?

Take the decision of choosing a major very seriously. Think about the types of jobs that are available for that specific major, whether those jobs will be around in the future, and if you can see yourself doing that job for the next thirty or fourty years of your life.

Spotlight on Engineering Alumni: Betsy Swovick

SwovickName: Betsy Swovick

Occupation: Engineer

Education (UR and additional): BS Biomedical Engineering and Certificate in Management Studies

Current job title: Chemical Process Engineer

Current employer: Bausch + Lomb

Current city/state of residence: Rochester, NY

Community activities: United Way, Ashford Ballet Company, B+L Young Leaders Network

When and how did you choose your major(s)?

The summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school I attended PREP (Pre-College Experience in Physics) at U of R. PREP is a summer science program for selected 9th or 10th graders from the Rochester area public schools that aims to encourage young women’s interest in science.  Both of my instructors for this program were BME majors and spoke very highly of the program. We also were given the opportunity to learn more about BME from a couple of the professors within the department.  I knew instantly that the integration of science, math, and biology was precisely what I wanted to study in college (although, at that time, I was still convinced that this would be my pre-med major and I would go on to be a doctor). I only applied to colleges that had BME as an option and ended up choosing U of R because of the ability to start working with the Medical Center.

By the time I was done taking BME201, I had decided engineering had me and I no longer wanted to pursue a career in medicine. As I suddenly had opened up all of this time in my curriculum, I looked into what other classes I could start taking. I fell upon a Certificate in Management studies which coupled nicely with my cluster in Economics. I loved these classes in a completely different way than my BME ones and still find myself drawn to this field as well.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was very involved in both the Ballet Performance Group and the Music Interest Floor. I not only gained life-long friends from these groups, but also improved my leadership and management skills. My current role as a process engineer requires me to take on project management duties and having the experience of being on multiple executive boards while in college gave me the opportunity to easily transition into management roles in industry.

What resources did you use on campus that you recommend current students use?

I tell every underclassman that I meet to utilize office hours! I think so many students take them for granted, but going to office hours improved my relationships with my professors (and therefore my grades).

Another thing that I preach is to say “yes” while in college. I had so much energy while I was at UR and there were so many opportunities to take advantage of! Whether the opportunities that present themselves to you are research, networking, internships, or leadership roles, college is the time to say yes and do it all!

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

Starting in January/February my senior year I started applying for jobs non-stop – the tally was easily up to 100 by the time I graduated. I did not limit myself by geography and just applied to anything that I thought I was qualified to do. I ended up applying for a lot of clinical research positions as I worked in clinical research for 3 years as an undergrad and felt that I had the most experience in that field. This first position I was offered was as a Clinical Study Assistant at Bausch + Lomb, I worked in that job for 6 months before a permanent engineering position opened up within the company and ended up transitioning to that role by the January after graduation. I have now been a Chemical Process Engineer at B+L for almost two years!

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?

One of the biggest “nuggets of knowledge” that I have taken with me is how to think. The problem solving mindset that I had to use as a BME major is one of the reasons I am able to work efficiently in my current role. Another big skill set that I have honed in on since college is the leadership and management skills I mentioned earlier. Having this combination of skills really helps me to be consistently successful in the work place.

Where would you like to be in five years?

Five years from now I plan to have my MBA and moving into a role in Business Development and/or Marketing.  I like the engineering mindset, but would like to move into the commercial side of industry and begin to integrate the two fields.

What advice do you have for current Hajim School students about their time on campus, graduate study, or the first few years after college?

While on campus take advantage of everything the school offers! Say yes, go to networking opportunities, work with your professors, stay after class to chat – you have so much right at your fingertips!

Right after college, I encourage recent graduates to continue networking and become involved in community organizations. I became heavily involved in the United Way’s campaign this past year which has increased my visibility in my organization as well as in Rochester.

I also think that right when you graduate you shouldn’t worry about your first job out of college. Find something that pays the bills and gives you experience, it doesn’t have to be your dream job right off the bat (because, honestly, you probably don’t even know what that is, even if you think you do). I’m learning more and more about my passions every day so I preach that your first position doesn’t need to be perfect, but you do need to take advantage of all the connections you can make at it! Go to networking events, join special interest groups within your organization, get involved, and make yourself known. That way, when your dream position opens up (and you’ve figured out what your dream position is) you are the first person the hiring manager thinks of!

Spotlight on Humanities and Social Sciences Alumni: Greg Skipton

gskiptonName: Greg Skipton      

Other UR Majors/Minors: English

Additional Education: currently pursuing MBA from Ohio Dominican University

Current City, State of Residence: Columbus, OH

Job Title: Branch Administrator

Employer: AXA Advisors, LLC

Family: Kate (Cieply) Skipton – Class of 2009

Community Activities: Capriccio! Vocal Ensemble, American Wine Society – Columbus Chapter, US Master’s Swimming – Columbus Sharks

How did you choose your major(s)?

I came to college undecided. I knew I loved history and English, and my high school history teachers had told me to pursue more historical studies opportunities in college that went beyond the traditional high school text. Thus, I jumped into in-depth studies of Germany & Austria from 1800-1945, the Russian Front in WWII, and even the Samurai. I wanted to major in something I loved, and the U of R history department made that extremely easy and fun to accomplish.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was involved in the Music Interest Floor for three years and served as their social chair. I also was extremely active with Off Broadway on Campus, where I got to combine my love of history and theater in a rendition of “But Mr. Adams” from 1776. I also was a member of the UR Crew and the Symphony and Chamber orchestras. My extra-curriculars brought me a wide variety of people to connect and interact with, and built friendships that have managed to stay strong in spite of distance, difference in career paths, etc. I had several OBOCians as my groomsmen, and over 30 college friends at my wedding.

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

I chose to go right into the workforce after graduation because I did not know what I wanted to continue studying.  I believe that one should not just go to school for the sake of school. Real world experience helps develop you as a person and leader, and hopefully will guide you to find what it is you truly wish to study. However, you must realize it is harder to go back to school the longer you are out, so be prepared to make a work-life balance when the time comes.

What was your first job after graduation? What college experiences prepared or qualified you for that position?

My first full-time job after graduation was working as the Patron Services Manager for the Syracuse Opera Company. I believe that my writing skills and conversational talents, developed through the U of R History and English Departments, truly helped land the job. It eventually grew to a Patron Services & Education Manager position, and I was able to combine my love of music and theater with my writing talents. I also got to dabble in history as we researched periods in order to accurately represent a scene.

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

Unless you know what you want to do, be willing to explore your career options. Always look for opportunities to intersperse your historical knowledge into your current field. It is easy in a field such as the arts, but even if you work in a bank or a factory, learn the history of your company. It may serve you well in the future, and may link you to some other fascinating historical events and times that you are interested in learning more about.

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

My current career is one of opportunity. I got it through great recommendations from people I already knew inside the company. It has given me an opportunity to work in the for-profit world and gain some insight into a totally different way and focus of doing business. In five years, I hope to take this knowledge and be back in the not-for-profits, hopefully helping them become a community force to be reckoned with. I also hope to continue to develop and explore my love for history by continuing to expose myself to the things that the areas I live in have to offer.

Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Amanda Michaud

MichaudName: Amanda M Michaud

UR Major: Economics

Other UR Majors/Minors: Mathematics, Arabic

Additional Education: University of Minnesota, MA and PhD- Economics (2012)

Current City, State of Residence: Bloomington, Indiana

Job Title: Assistant Professor of Economics

Employer: University of Indiana- Bloomington

How did you choose your major(s)?

At Rochester, I sampled courses in political science, philosophy, and economics hoping to better understand the world around me. I found the mathematical rigor of economics provided the most satisfying way to organize my thoughts. We can argue about assumptions, but at least in economics, assumptions lead to definitive conclusions.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I rowed with the women’s crew team all four years at Rochester. My experience was a lesson in the value of grit. We all know it takes many days of consistent hard work to become a better athlete. However, I found the patience to continue through bad days an even more important factor. Since leaving Rochester, I have found an ability to not be discouraged by the many failures that come before success a difficult, but important trait.

What did you wish you had known before graduating? What would you have done differently?

I don’t have any regrets. I chose to put myself in deliberately hard situations. For instance, I struggled with my Arabic courses, so I studied abroad in Egypt. It was difficult, but my Arabic improved. Sometimes hard experiences do not come by choice, but we can always choose to learn from them.

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

I chose to go straight to graduate school. The logic that spoke to me is: the sooner you go, the more valuable your education is because you get to use it longer. Luckily, as economic students, you understand opportunity costs as well.

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

The best first job is the one in which you can acquire skills that will make you attractive to other employers. You will pay for these skills with a lower starting wage, but you will have more opportunities.

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

I am an Assistant Professor of Economics at Indiana University in Bloomington. My job is to be curious and encourage students to be curious too. There is paperwork, but it is still the best job I could ask for. I chose this career because I am motivated by challenges and, as we have seen, the challenges posed to macroeconomists are never ending. Five years from now I hope to have put the power of the science to good use and to have challenged students to try out the “economic way of thinking”. Maybe I will have inspired a few to continue to explore economic logic as my professors at Rochester once inspired me.

Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Andrew Lynch

LynchName: Andrew Lynch ’06

Education (UR and additional): BS (Physics and Astronomy), University of Rochester, 2006

Current city/state of residence: Marlton, NJ

Job Title: Inside Sales Manager

Employer: Edmund Optics, Inc.

Family: Wife

When and how did you choose your major?  

I fell in love with Physics and Astronomy in high school.  My high school had block scheduling, and one “semester” I ended up taking both a Physics class and an Astronomy class.  Spending a half day or more every day on those two subjects – with an extremely talented teacher I might add – really sparked my lifelong interest in those subjects.  The next semester I got a job at the local science center running planetarium shows and guiding telescopes for the public.  Those early experiences sealed the deal as far as what major I was going to choose in college.  It also led to my choice of attending UR.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

My primary on-campus involvements revolved around my membership in a Fraternity (Sigma Chi).  Some people have strong opinions one way or another about Fraternities in general, but the life lessons that I learned from that place are too numerous to list in this questionnaire.  The absolutely ridiculous stories and anecdotes that I’ll have at my disposal are priceless as well!

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

I’m pretty sure I was the only person in my graduating class that chose to get a job after college rather than pursue grad school, and I’m so glad I did.  Whereas a lot of my friends went the grad school route for some niche topic or another, I now already have 5+ years of real world industry and business-related experiences that I can leverage for the rest of my career.  When and if I do end up pursuing a higher degree down the road, it will be that much more valuable since I can put everything into context and see the bigger picture.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

When I started my job search, it became pretty clear that a BA in Physics and Astronomy would be a valuable degree for several different engineering fields.  With a decent background in telescopes and a firm understanding of the nature of light, Optical Engineering seemed like a good bet.  I spent my first few years as an Applications Engineer, where my main job function was to solve technical problems are questions that our customer’s had.  During that stint, I spent a year and a half living in Singapore and travelling around Asia.  When I came back to the U.S., I knew I wanted to get into the Technical Sales side of the business.  I now manage our Managed Account Inside Sales Team that services the Americas.

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?  

Mainly problem solving skills and general principals.  Most of what you learn in college consists of the hairy details that you won’t necessarily have to use in practice.  You need to be familiar with all of them conversationally, but otherwise they all reside in books on the off-chance you need to reference them in the future.  I did an insane amount of integrals and derivations in college, but in my day-to-day job 99% of the math I have to do is trig and/or simple equations.

What advice do you have for current students?

For Physics and Astronomy students, hang out at the POA Library (in B&L) with your fellow nerds as often as the workload warrants it.  You’ll be hard pressed to find a better think tank for working through problem sets, and you’re guaranteed some funny and memorable sci-fi related debates.  For all students, realize that there is so much more to college than a perfect GPA.  Your GPA only marginally matters for your first job out of college, and sometimes not even then!  Make sure you get your degree, but also make sure you have a balanced social life as well.  Push yourself into situations outside of your comfort zone and take some calculated risks while it is still perfectly acceptable to do so!

Spotlight on Engineering Alumni: Julia Cosse

defaultName: Julia Cosse

Occupation: Graduate Student

Education (UR and additional): B.S. (Mechanical Engineering) University of Rochester 2008, M.S. (Aerospace Engineering) California Institute of Technology 2009, M2 (Fluid Mechanics) École Polytechnique (France) 2010, expecting to finish Ph.D. in Aeronautics from California Institute of Technology in 2014.

Current city/state of residence: Pasadena, CA

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

One of the things that I really liked about the University of Rochester curriculum was the fact that I wasn’t going to be tied down into one discipline. Many universities I was looking at would force you to transfer between colleges inside the university if you wanted to switch from psychology to engineering. Rochester allowed me to study whatever I felt like without having to jump through hoops.

When and how did you choose your major(s)?

When I started at the University of Rochester I was torn between studying psychology and mechanical engineering so I enrolled in introductory courses in both. After my first year I realized that while I found psychology very interesting, engineering was a better fit for me. I’m very happy with the choice I made, and I’m also glad that I had the opportunity to wait on making that choice.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I worked at Todd International Theatre program as the master electrician. As such, I was responsible for the lighting in all of the plays, teaching and leading a group of students in setting up the various light effects for the shows. While this was a lot of work, it taught me a lot about how to organize and lead a group of people in a large-scale project. The theatre also has an incredible group of people that I really enjoyed working with.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

I started graduate school the fall after I graduated from the University of Rochester. My senior year I applied to graduate schools (in the fall and winter) and attended several of the on campus recruiting events put on by the career center (late winter and spring). During this time I talked to several companies about what sorts of things I would be doing if I were to take a job straight out of undergrad. Ultimately I decided that graduate school would open the doors on opportunities I thought were most interesting (teaching and research).

How do you balance your work and personal life?

To be perfectly honest this is something I still struggle with. There is always a battle between personal and professional obligations, and I haven’t always done a good job of keeping my life balanced. While I certainly could improve this balance, my recent strategy is to avoid working on the weekends. Everyone needs some time for themselves to recuperate, and learning how to allow yourself to take that time is important.

What advice do you have for current Hajim School students about their time on campus, graduate study, or the first few years after college?

One of the best things that I did was getting involved in research early on. I was able to get an internship at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics during the spring term of my sophomore year. Following that, I spent two summers in research labs across the country, which provided me with a better understanding of what graduate school would entail. I think it’s incredibly important to put some thought into your career outside the classroom, and to find a few jobs or internships prior to graduating so that you have some real working experience and a better understanding of what you want to do after graduation.

Spotlight on Humanities Alumni: Mary O’Brien

o'brienName: Mary O’Brien

Occupation: Communications

Education (UR and additional): BA (English/Minor in Journalism), University of Rochester, 2003; MBA, University at Albany – SUNY, 2009

Current city/state of residence: Slingerlands, NY

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

Rush Rhees Library and awesome financial aid.

When and how did you choose your major?

I entered U of R as a biology (pre-med) major. It took me three semesters to be positive it wasn’t for me. It was a difficult decision, and one that I wish I’d made before that unfortunate grade in organic chemistry, but I ultimately became an english major. While still headstrong and committed to bio, I received encouragement from Professor David Bleich – he was right. I looked forward to my English classes while dreading long hours in lab. Listen to yourself. I also got a journalism minor. (Memmott – I use the inverted pyramid on a daily basis – thanks!)

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was active in my sorority, Delta Gamma, as well as the Panhellenic Association. My time in DG taught me about loyalty and philanthropy, as well as time management. I also made incredible friends. As President of Panhel, I had direct contact with administrators, practiced dreaded public speaking, learned about crisis management, and gained leadership experience – all critical skills in the workplace. I also spent a lot of time at Pellegrino’s and watching Sex and the City DVDs – thank you Anderson 740 & Fairchild 410.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

Immediately after graduation I returned to Albany and went back to my summer job at the New York Summer School of the Arts.  I was able to keep working there until I started my first “real job” in January as an Editorial Assistant at a publishing company. I worked at the publishing company for several years ending my time there as a Product Manager working on products for the professional health care market.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I currently work in the corporate communications office of a health care system – the perfect place for a former pre-med English major with an MBA. Several of my jobs led me to my current position including my time in health care publishing and a two year stint in the University Health Promotion office. I get to write and edit, contribute to committees, interact with vendors, clinicians, and the community. Every day can be different from the last which keeps things interesting.

How do you balance your work and personal life?

Know what is most important to you and define your version of success accordingly. I’ve had different priorities at different times since graduation – work, family, grad school, relationships – and as they change you have to make adjustments.

How are you still connected with the University?

I am a UR Involved volunteer. I have enjoyed meeting with prospective students, making congratulatory phone calls, and meeting other alumni and parents. I was on our five- and 10-year reunion planning committees. I have been to very fortunate to stay in touch with friends and return to campus several times over the years.

Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Andrew Harris

harrisName: Andrew Harris

UR Major:  History

UR Minor: French

Additional Education: Notre Dame Law School (Class of 2015)

Current City, State of Residence: South Bend, Indiana

How did you choose your major?

I chose my major based on my passions and my career goals. As early as freshman year, I knew I wanted to go to law school. To that end, I sought to develop my writing skills. I selected my major in order to apply my interests with a practical end in mind.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

My primary involvement at UR was in the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. While Greek life isn’t for everyone, my experiences with it helped me develop my professional persona and develop crucial networking skills.

What are some specific skills students should develop during an internship?

The most important skills to develop are time management, the ability to cultivate productive working relationships, and the ability to write with clarity and concision. No matter your intended field, these skills will be highly valued. Technical expertise is essential, but an inability to represent that expertise is a significant hindrance.

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

Whether your work right after graduation or go to graduate school, it is essential to make sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons. Some see graduate school as a convenient way to avoid the “real world” (for a few years, at least). Such a mindset is not a recipe for success. Excellence—in graduate school or in the workforce—is predicated on a sincere dedication to your work.

Where would you like to be in five years?

In five years, I intend to be at a corporate law firm in Chicago. Success in law is based on performance during key internships, which are acquired by excelling in class. The only way to do that, of course, is applying what I’ve learned over the course semester as well as the skills I fostered during my time as an undergraduate. Thanks to those skills, I’ve every confidence that I will be able to fulfill my dream of practicing mergers and acquisitions in a major firm.