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 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 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.

Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Emily Schneider

schniederName: Emily Schneider

Occupation: Special Education Teacher

Education: BA (Psychology), University of Rochester, 2006; MA (Early Childhood Special Education), George Washington University; Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis at George Mason University

Current city/state of residence: Washington, D.C.


Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

I applied Early Decision to the University of Rochester. When I visited with my parents, I immediately felt like this could be my home for the next four years. After I did an overnight visit with current students, my decision was sealed. I loved the feel of the campus and the opportunities it offered. The UofR fit everything I imagined college should be, and it did not disappoint!

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

One of the most influential programs I was involved with at the University of Rochester was Professor Bennetto’s practicum in developmental disabilities. In addition to meeting for class discussions, we also worked in a classroom on campus that worked with 18-21 year olds with developmental disabilities. They were learning critical life skills for half of the day and worked jobs the other half of the day. I absolutely loved this experience. This is why I am a special education teacher today. Professor Bennetto’s practicum allowed me to find my passion for teaching children with developmental disabilities, and I am forever grateful the University of Rochester provided me with this opportunity.

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

After graduation, I was accepted into the DC Teaching Fellows program. I knew I had a passion for helping children, especially children with disabilities. I thought the Fellows program would offer me a great opportunity to explore teaching as a career. As I taught in a high-needs DC public school, I went to school for my masters in special education. It turned out I truly loved to teach, and I have been working at my same school in DC as the early childhood autism teacher for the past six years.

How are you still connected with the University?

The University of Rochester will always have a special place in my heart. I am connected to the University through the amazing friends that I made during my time there. Even though we are spread across the country, we are all still very close. We constantly reminisce about our college days. I have been back a few times, which is always so much fun. I love being on campus. One of my favorite times was returning to UofR for a friend’s bachelorette party. We wanted to go back to where we all met. We had a great time taking pictures around the campus and remembering the good times we had. I imagine us being old ladies and returning to do the same thing years and years from now.

What advice do you have for current students?

Enjoy every moment! Everyone says it, but you don’t realize how true it is until you’re done – college is one of the best times of your life. Don’t stress yourself out too much – make sure you have a nice balance of work and fun. Take advantage of the amazing classes and opportunities. And one last thing – make sure you get out of bed on the weekend in time to go to Danforth brunch – it was always our favorite! :)

Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Ben Seitelman

seitelmanName: Benjamin Seitelman        

UR Major:  History

Other UR Majors/Minors: Political Science

Current City, State of Residence: Highland Park, IL

Job Title: Finance Administrator               

Employer: Keith Fitzgerald for Congress

Family: Parents (Lori and David), two sisters (Sara and Jessica)


How did you choose your major?

I have always been interested in history and politics and the intersection at which both subjects meet. The unique curriculum at the University of Rochester allowed me to major in both subjects and to graduate within four years.

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

I would have pursued more summer opportunities relating to my majors, particularly in history. Pursuing such opportunities would have given me more early career experience as well as a more solid idea of what career I want to pursue with my life.

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

Since the graduate degree I intend to pursue (a Master’s in Public Policy) usually does not admit students right out of their undergraduate studies, I chose to begin working right after graduation. However, the choice between going straight to graduate school and working after graduation should depend on your individual circumstances as a history major. Of my fellow history majors in the class of 2011, some went straight to graduate school, while others joined the workforce. I would consider your options (i.e. what type of graduate degree you intend to pursue, what jobs are available) before making that decision.

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

Academia is not for everyone. Find something you love regardless of its relation to history and do it; the critical thinking and writing skills you will pick up from your history major will help you to succeed regardless of the career path you take. The best thing you can do for your career prospects as a history major is to attend all of your classes and become engaged in them.

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

I worked this election cycle for various political campaigns; for the last three months, I served as a member of a fundraising team for a Congressional campaign in Florida. My experience with political campaigns dates back to high school; working on campaigns has always been something I enjoyed, so I decided to attempt to make a living at it. However, the transitory lifestyle of campaigning has led me to consider taking my campaign skills into similar but related fields such as public service or non-profits that provide similar work experiences with more job security.

Where would you like to be in five years?

In five years, I would like to be in graduate school pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Policy while having advanced myself in my career.

Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Jonathan Garon

garonName: Jonathan Garon

UR Major:  History

Other UR Majors/Minors: Political Science

Current City, State of Residence: Washington, DC


How did you choose your major(s)?

I’ve been fascinated by history for as long as I can remember.  Growing up in Virginia, where 70% of the American Civil War was fought, my parents would take my siblings and me to pastoral fields that were scenes of carnage 150 years ago.  Growing up, I began to eye history through a lens of how it has shaped who we are today, but I’ve still never lost that wide-eyed wonder I experienced as a child standing on the same ground of my American ancestors.

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

My most significant activity was my undergraduate research, which ended up serving as my senior year writing history requirement.  Based on a series of letters written by my grandfather during WWII, I designed a research project centering on de-Nazification in post-war Germany and the onset of the Cold War.  If you can find a project that truly fascinates you, it is beneficial in so many ways.  Not only do you get great things to put on your resume, but you really are able to extract the most value and worth from your history major and set yourself apart from your peers in your desire to work hard and learn.

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

Unless you are 110% sure about the career path you wish to pursue, I am a huge proponent of taking at least one year post-college to work, save money, and think about your future.  When I graduated, I had neither the funds nor the knowledge of exactly what I wanted to pursue to justify entering into a graduate program.  I think a lot of people panic and continue with more schooling to avoid some kind of bleak work future or unemployment.  But whether you are working an unpaid internship in your field or working retail at The Gap, I think that down time is important – to give your school mind a rest, really think about your strengths, what you want to pursue, and how you want to pursue it.  I have just moved back to the East Coast after three years waiting tables in San Francisco.  I also worked two part-time unpaid internships in my time there.  Now, I feel rested and renewed and ready to pursue what I actually studied.  Side note – four of my close friends from UR went directly into law school after graduation.  I remember speaking with three of them during their first year and all of them expressed the same sentiment – they wished they had just taken one year to relax and think about their future.  For some people, going straight into more school may be the right step.  But I would take some time for serious thought and reflection before making a decision.

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

I would say do your best to focus on accomplishing a lot during your time at UR.  That means taking on greater academic challenges to set yourself apart on your resume post-graduation.  Every student at UR is smart and has a lot to show for themselves.  Make it a point to do something different that makes you stand out.  Take an active role in a campus organization, take on an undergraduate research project, etc.  Something, anything that will make you stand out as unique to future employers.  It does not have to be something larger than life – just something worth mentioning and being proud of. 

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 Associate Program Director at the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council, a Washington, D.C.-based business advocacy organization that works to foster stronger trade and commercial between the corporations operating across a variety of sectors in the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates.  One of my driving moves in relocating back to the D.C. area was the desire to find work in international affairs, specifically in the Middle East, which has always been my focus.  I find my current role interesting as it touches on a unique cross-section of business, government, and international affairs.

In five years, I would like to be working in business development for a multi-national corporation, hopefully with a focus on alternative and renewable energy development.

Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Sohee Gu

gu

Name:  Sohee Gu

UR Major: Economics

Other UR Majors/Minors: International Relations (Minor)

Additional Education: Currently attending School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Johns Hopkins University, and pursuing a master’s degree in International Economics + International Relations

Current City, State of Residence: Washington, D.C.


How did you choose your major(s)?

In my sophomore year, I was a pre-med student who reluctantly decided to take microeconomics just because it was required for this other public health course I wanted to take – I had no choice. Little did I know, I fell in love with the subject that semester, enough to switch my major and career track completely.

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

My best friend and I created an art group called “GU-KT” partially for fun and partially to reflect our thoughts on various social issues via art. For the very first Art Awake, we ended up submitting this room-size installation that symbolized students’ negative biases toward the 19th Ward at the time, and it drew a lot of attention and got media coverage. Activities like this made my life more fun and richer than I ever thought possible- also, now I cannot see him so much after graduation, it has become one of the best memories.

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

How to effectively write and network with people. I find writing in the real world different from writing in college. Also, it is better to start networking now than right before graduation. Meet people, introduce yourself and your interests!

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

That there is a world outside of the campus and the city of Rochester. I wish I explored opportunities both in and outside of Rochester- internship, fun activities, travelling, etc.-  more aggressively and taken advantage of them.

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

I would definitely recommend working after graduation over attending graduate school right away. If you are determined to be in academia, that is one thing- however, as someone who only had a broad idea of what I wanted to do in my life, I gained so much from having that real world experience before going to graduate school.

 

Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Crystal Cusimano

cuismanoName: Crystal Cusimano

UR Major: Economics

Other UR Majors/Minors: Psychology Minor and Business Management Certificate

Additional Education: M.S, Marketing and M.S. Education Media Design and Technology
Current City, State of Residence: Rochester, NY

Job Title: Director, Office of Summer Programs and Part-Time Studies

Employer: University of Rochester – Arts, Sciences and Engineering Deans’ Office

Community activities: Volunteer- Artist Row Committee (Rochester Public Market), Photographer for various not-for profit events (March of Dimes), Volunteer – Habitat for Humanity


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

As a student I served as a resident advisor, a member Senior Class Council and volunteered tutoring young children at a battered women’s shelter. All three of these experiences taught me how to be a leader, how to build community, and how to appreciate and better understand the differences among people.

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

My mentors on campus were many of those working in the student services administrative offices. They provided a supportive environment enabling me to be confident and always encouraging me to follow my passions.

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

I would have taken advantage of all the opportunities that the U of R has to offer. This is such a diverse school and the options are limitless. If I could go back I would have created my own multi-disciplinary major in entrepreneurship.

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

I took a much different path in regards to this and went to graduate school and worked full-time simultaneously. I believe this provided me with a unique experience allowing me to build professional relationships while also increasing my skill set and knowledge. In terms of deciding what to do right after graduation I recommend students should do what feels right for them.

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

Studying economics gives you such a large skill set that lets you go just about anywhere. Don’t feel limited and don’t be afraid to go after a position that you think may not fit. Economics teaches you to look at things critically and problem solve. Those skills are valuable and important to have for any position you choose.