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 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.