Global Engagement Advanced Project: Laura Mayron ’16

Saludos desde España—greetings from Spain!

My name is Laura, and I’m an English and Spanish double major from Maui, Hawai’i. I have always had a passion for literature, especially Spanish literature. I already knew upon arriving at Wellesley that I wanted to double major in those two fields, but I had a harder time figuring out which of the two I wanted to primarily pursue after graduation. In the last year though, it’s become pretty clear thanks to my time at Wellesley and abroad: Spanish is the one for me, and I have dreams of becoming a Spanish professor and teaching literature (hopefully at Wellesley one day!). This summer, I’m absolutely delighted to be Wellesley’s first intern at the Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo (UIMP—pronounced like “wimp” in Spanish) in Santander, Spain. When I heard that Wellesley was creating a new Global Engagement Internship with the UIMP, I was thrilled by the opportunity and applied right away. I was already in Spain for a semester abroad in Córdoba with Wellesley’s PRESHCO program, and I knew that I didn’t want to leave in May. I was in love with Spain, and having made it all the way there from my home in Hawai’i literally halfway across the world, I wanted to prolong my stay as long as possible, and especially if it meant that I could take part in such a fantastic new internship. With my love of Spanish and my aspirations to work in academia, interning at the Cultural Activities department in a renowned graduate university would be incredible opportunity to immerse myself in the academic world of Spain.

When I arrived in Santander, I was a bit confused: it was raining, and rained straight for my first three days. Where was I—Spain, or the United Kingdom? I knew Santander was up north and didn’t have the hottest summers, which I appreciated after the extreme heat of southern Spain, but this new place looked nothing like my sunny Córdoba. On Monday, however, the sun came out, and my jaw dropped as I walked from the residential campus to the actual palace on a peninsula where I’d be working. The sea was as blue as back home, and entering the towering palace on the water felt like a dream. It was the team’s first day back from their other offices in Madrid, so my first week was quiet as I got an orientation of events as the office was set up. By my second week, the office was bustling—more of my coworkers started to arrive and things went from quiet to non-stop.

Hard at work!

Hard at work!

There isn’t really a “normal” day at the UIMP. I’ve been in charge of designing the weekly newsletter, sending it to printers and distributing it, recording attendance for events, creating program handouts, and occasionally helping out with the academic courses, and that was just inside the office. Outside, I attend three to four evening events a week, helping set up and break down everything from Literary Tuesday talks to classical music concerts. My schedule varies a lot—sometimes I’ll work a 10 am-6 pm day at the office, or I’ll only work until lunch, take the afternoon off, and spend from 8 pm until midnight at the later events. Of course, there are always breaks for a café con leche and tortilla de patata downstairs with my fantastic coworkers, who have taken me in as one of their own, despite me being younger than anyone else and the very first intern at the UIMP from the United States. People around the palace are slightly confused by a twenty-two year old Spanish major from Boston/Maui, and I’ve started to joke that I want a coffee every time I get the question “Wait, you’re from Hawai’i? What on earth are you doing here in Spain?” since it takes some caffeine to explain the situation.

Working in such a prestigious academic environment has also given me the opportunity to meet some pretty incredible people, including actors, to writers, and even an astronaut. I’ve been able to get tickets to great events, from a contemporary dance performance to a dramatic monologue by Spanish actress Ana Fernández, who I got to meet backstage. As a writer, it’s been especially exciting for me to meet quite a few authors and poets who have come to present, and even have some signed books! My time at the UIMP has definitely cemented my desire to work in the academic world, and has given me the confidence that I can easily live and work, all in Spanish.

Spanish actress Ana Fernández

Spanish actress Ana Fernández

There were little challenges that I wasn’t anticipating, for instance, how to write the “@” symbol on a Spanish keyboard. After ten minutes of pressing all manner of key combinations and searching online, I finally had to ask. I’ve now gotten so used to the different placement of letters and symbols on a Spanish keyboard that I’ve started messing up on my laptop! I was also surprised just how very casual interactions can be here. The custom in Spain is to greet everyone with a kiss on each cheek, which I expected with friends, but was a bit taken aback to greet my boss, professors, and university officials this way—no one shakes hands here! Despite the challenges and cultural differences, I feel like I fit in very well here: after spending a semester in Córdoba and a summer in Santander, I’ve picked up a lot of little things, like exactly the right casual phrasing to order food at the bar and new slang words, all things that make me feel very at home in Spain.

My time in Santander hasn’t been all work and no play, however—after closing up the events, my coworkers and I go grab a typically late Spanish dinner with a glass of some excellent wine or Spanish cider from the region. The tapas, here called “pinchos,” are delicious—served on a wedge of toasted bread, they can be anything from seafood, to meat, to very strong cheeses. I’ve definitely broadened my culinary horizons and gotten a lot more adventurous during my time in Spain, especially with the more unfamiliar pinchos, though there are a few things I’m still not brave enough to try (sorry, little fried anchovies with faces). The weekends also leave plenty of time for exploration of the region’s beautiful beaches and forests, as well as trips to the nearby Basque cities San Sebastian and Bilbao. It’s been very refreshing to embrace the relaxed pace of life here and slow down for a bit, instead of rushing from place to place and event to event as I’m always doing in Wellesley. The Spanish know how to enjoy the little things and make the most of their time with friends, which is something I want to bring back with me for when my semester gets stressful.

Catching up with Professor Carlos Ramos of the Spanish Department

Catching up with Professor Carlos Ramos of the Spanish Department

Writing this, I’m getting ready to wrap up my nearly seven months in Spain and my nine weeks in Santander, and I’m very sad to be leaving such a wonderful experience, but I’m also excited to bring my new skills and appreciation for the little moments back to Wellesley. I know without a doubt that I’ll be back in Spain very soon—I know it’s going to be a big part of my future!

The northern coast of Spain

The northern coast of Spain

Global Engagement Internship: Wenbo Bai ’16

Hello! My name is Wenbo Bai, and I am a rising senior interning this summer in the Philippines with a reproductive health NGO called Roots of Health. I hail from Henderson, Nevada, near Las Vegas. I’m an Anthropology major and Economics minor at Wellesley, but my main interest lies in public health–specifically, health care systems and developmental health economics. I entered college without having a clue what I wanted as a career, but I think I’ll exit college with the hope of doing something in the public health field. My most idealistic career though, bolstered by a creative travel writing class I took in my spring semester abroad in Copenhagen, is to traverse the world and become a travel writer!

When I was thinking about my plans this summer, I decided I wanted to have a productive summer working with an organization that does work that I believe in. I also wanted to intern somewhere I hadn’t gone before–I had become weary of working at home the past two summers. Roots of Health was a perfect combination of the two! Located in the Philippines (a country I had never visited before), Roots of Health aims to empower of women and ensure reproductive autonomy, causes that are always discussed so passionately at Wellesley but I had yet to actively contribute to. In addition, the Wellesley intern who worked with Roots of Health last summer loved it, so I was already assured that it would be a great internship before I got to experience it for myself.

Founded in 2009 by Wellesley alumna Amina Evangelista Swanepoel ’02, her mother, and her husband, Roots of Health is a reproductive health NGO working in Palawan, an island located in the southwestern part of the Philippines. Because the Philippines is generally a religious Catholic country, the topics of reproductive and sexual health are often viewed as taboo and therefore addressed poorly, or not at all. In fact, it wasn’t until 2012 that a reproductive health bill (RH Bill) was passed in the Philippines, after over a decade of advocates–including Roots of Health–lobbying on its behalf. Still, the RH Bill has its limits, such as no free access to contraceptives and allowing schools to cut out a reproductive health curriculum on religious grounds, and so Roots of Health’s work remains as important and relevant as ever, especially since Palawan has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the country. Roots of Health provides clinical services such as contraceptives, prenatal checkups, and maternal health programs and train local women to become Community Health Advocates. There are also programs such the radio show, reproductive and sexual health education for young teens and high schoolers, and a financial literacy program that empowers women to take charge of their own finances. And just recently, we implemented an enterprise development project that provided grants for women to cultivate their own small businesses. Through these different avenues, Roots of Health not only addresses larger, more upstream structural issues that affect reproductive health in order to make meaningful and long term impacts in the communities, but it also motivates people in the community to lead and continue the chain of change. As one of my colleagues put succinctly: “We work alongside together with the communities to help people help themselves.”

Puerta Princesa, Philippines

Roots of Health, Puerta Princesa, Philippines

…and I feel so lucky to be a part of it! At Roots of Health, our workweek is from Tuesday to Saturday. At the beginning of the internship in particular, I went out into the communities frequently with the clinical, teaching, and financial literacy teams to see program implementation in action. I saw for myself the necessity of the work that Roots of Health was doing–there were so many pregnant young teens at these programs, some with already child or two in tow. I was also amazed by the staff, whom all have an amazing rapport with the communities–they knew every woman and student by name, and both knowledge and laughter were exchanged during the sessions. Besides observing teams in the field, I was also given administrative tasks, such as grant-searching, making social media posts, and compiling the annual report. As our tasks have settled down, I typically go out into the community once or twice a week and spend the rest helping out with office work such as programming and planning workshops.

Living in the Philippines has been quite the adventure. Life and livelihoods move at a much different pace here, and there are so many signs of poverty. But realizing that poverty is so normalized here was less of a culture shock and more of a reality check, a reminder of the importance of our work as well as a testament to the growing disparities between the developed and developing parts of the world. Cultural integration has also been interesting for me. Even though I am ethnically Chinese and own an American passport, I find myself in a strange role. Even though everyone has a basic understanding of English, Tagalog is used in everyday communication. Because of my ability to tan easily, Filipinos think that I am Pinay and frequently speak to me in rapid Tagalog. When I’m walking down the street alone and people don’t stare at me like they sometimes do at other foreigners in the city, and it feels like I am harboring a big secret. It’s an interesting state of liminality, being able to blend in but not quite fit in. But even through the awkward miscommunications, scheduled and unscheduled power outages, and discovering wolf spiders in the bathroom, nothing has managed to detract from the warmth and generosity of the Filipino people or the richness of their culture, and I’ve felt very at home here. In my free time, the other interns and I attend boxing lessons, take beginner Tagalog lessons, and make weekend trips to sights around Palawan.

Something that dawned on me as the weeks have gone by is seeing how easy it is to get caught up in everyday tasks and periodically forget the bigger picture of what we’re working towards. During my first few weeks at Roots of Health, while adjusting to working and living in the Philippines, I was so solely concentrated on my role in the organization that it wasn’t until recently that it dawned on me that I had been approaching the internship too narrowly. But then I started to find small, seemingly insignificant moments that illuminated the importance of our work: People in the communities eagerly unstacking chairs to prepare for a clinical session. Teens in a Youth Advocates class writing “teacher” as their career goals. Women laughing with each other during a team building exercise.

Working alongside such a great staff and an incredibly selfless and graceful Wellesley alumna has made me realize my love for Roots of Health’s mission and philosophy, as well as admire the kinds of women Wellesley can nurture. It’s a powerful feeling, knowing that I am so firmly grounded in my work, and it’s a feeling I aspire–and encourage others–to find again in a career after Wellesley, in wherever I end up, in whatever I choose to do.

Global Engagement Internship: Mairead McAuliffe ’16

This summer I am thrilled to be interning in Amelia, Italy for ARCA, the Association for Research Into Crimes Against Art, a non-profit organization devoted to the study and research of art crime and cultural heritage protection. I have studied Italian at Wellesley for two years and was adamant that I had to spend an extended period of time in Italy before I graduated.  As an Economics major and transfer student, studying in Italy for a semester proved to be complicated given the graduation requirements I have to complete. I therefore approached both the Italian department and the CWS to investigate summer opportunities in Italy. The Global Engagement Internship with ARCA was a perfect match. Almost untouched by tourists, Amelia, and my responsibilities with ARCA, are providing me with the perfect opportunity to practice and develop my knowledge of the Italian language. Further, ARCA’s mission to preserve and protect the artifacts of a country’s past is one that I have always been passionate about given my love for history, art and travel.

The beginning of my internship was busy and exciting as I assisted with the preparation for ARCA’s annual Art Crime Conference. The two-day event consisted of panels of international speakers discussing topics related to cultural heritage protection such as art insurance, national and international art policing and cultural heritage crimes in countries of conflict. In preparation for the event, I visited local businesses in order to engage flower arrangements and breakfast services. I also visited my newly made friends, Paola and Filippo, at the print shop on many occasions to print the conference program and other necessary materials. Paola and Filippo call me Maggie and are always helping me practice my Italian as we munch on caramelle, waiting for hundreds of pages to stack at the printer. During the conference, I was asked to tweet on ARCA’s Twitter account. I enjoyed the task since I was then able to listen and digest the panelists’ presentations. It was, however, difficult to keep my tweets within the 140-character limit! The conference was an absolute success after a lot of hard work and planning but it was also a lot of fun!

In addition to conference planning, I have enjoyed getting to know the current ARCA students. Each summer ARCA hosts an annual ten-week postgraduate certificate program for students interested in pursuing careers related to cultural heritage protection. This year’s students hail from six different countries, each coming with their own unique experiences and interests. Since knowledge of Italian is not required, it has been fun accompanying some students to the post office, bus stop and computer store to assist with the language barrier.

Linguistically connecting the students to the city of Amelia has provided me with many opportunities to interact and develop relationships with the people of this medieval village. My favorite event was the celebration of the Catholic Feast of Corpus Christi, held on June 7th. Cars were forbidden from entering the city walls as the people prepared the streets for their annual procession up to the Duomo that crowns the city’s peak. Bags of freshly cut and colored flower petals were delivered and passed from doorway to doorway as the people flooded the streets outlining designs with chalk and filling the voids with the vibrant petals. As a resident of a villa a few minutes outside of the city center, I roamed the streets with some of the students offering to help the residents. Our assistance was much appreciated by an elderly couple that owns an antique shop on Via Reppublica. The wife said that we could design whatever we wished, but the husband was, jokingly, a bit pickier! We stenciled the man’s designs of choice and showered them with the provided flowers. We then joined the couple in the procession and threaded our way through the city’s maze of streets, listening to the chanting of prayer and song. This experience is one that I will always remember since I was so warmly invited to join and participate in a tradition that has survived with a people for hundreds of years.

My internship with ARCA has been extremely valuable as I look forward to the career I wish to pursue. Despite my Economics major, I wish to attend law school and become an attorney, although I am not sure which type of law I wish to practice. I have met many lawyers and judges during my time with ARCA and all are supportive when discussing how much they enjoy the field and its work. They have warned of the difficulty of practicing art law in particular, but are hopeful that the field will gain more attention in the future.  Equally important, though, my time in Amelia has encouraged me to consider the type of lifestyle I wish to lead. At Wellesley, life can become fast paced and stress inducing with all of my assignments and meetings. Unfortunately, meals with friends and family or trips to Starbucks and the mall get canceled or shortened so that I can check more things off of my endless to-do lists. In Amelia, time is a relaxed concept, where more minutes are spent catching up with friends and meeting new ones than maintaining the efficiency of the supermarket line or the flow of traffic down a one-way street. The city shops close every afternoon at 1:00pm for lunch and a pausa before reopening again at 4:30pm and dinners are preceded by apperativo and it can be hours before the first pot of water is set on the stove to boil. This slow paced atmosphere (and spotty internet connection) has encouraged me to reconsider the amount of time and the many connections I lose while rushing back to the library or burying myself in my dorm room editing my paper, yet again.

The decorated streets and procession during the celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi

The decorated streets and procession during the celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi

While I still cannot yet gulp my espresso like the people of Amelia, I am learning to savor each moment I spend in this quaint little village – a lesson I hope I can store away and bring back to the States.

Where Are They Now: Lauren Friedman ’09

Please give a brief background on yourself and your career.
I am originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan and currently reside in Washington, DC. I was on the field hockey team while at Wellesley, majored in Political Science, and graduated in 2009.

As a self employed artist, I wear many hats. I can trace the beginning of my career as an artist to five years ago, when I started my blog, My Closet in Sketches, on a lark in response to a creative drought. Now, I work primarily as a fashion illustrator and author, (my first book, 50 Ways to Wear a Scarf, came out in February 2014, and I am currently working on my next book, due in Fall 2016), in addition to acting as art teacher, stylist, closet consultant, and chalk artist, creating murals and menus for local DC shops, restaurants, and cafes.

How has your career changed since you originally envisioned it at Wellesley? What other careers did you consider as a student?
I would have been truly shocked at Wellesley if someone told me that this is what my career would look like. As a Political Science major, I applied to the Wellesley in Washington internship program for the summer after my junior year, and was crushed when I didn’t receive a position. I was fortunate, however, to be awarded a fellowship through the CWS American Cities Program – I worked as a television production assistant at Chicago Tonight. My favorite aspect of the job was the creative element of story writing, and I ended up taking a job as a Desk Assistant at the PBS Newshour in Washington DC upon graduation. I’ve now lived in DC for six years.

Truthfully, I had no idea what career I really wanted at Wellesley, and I think it’s important to acknowledge that here. I’ve held many, many positions professionally – in a variety of career paths – before becoming fully self employed, and each one of those, in their own unique way, gave me an important experience that informs what I do today. For instance, I worked as an Operations Manager at a small non-profit after my time at the PBS Newshour, and that taught me how to manage a business (in addition, this was when I began my blog, drawing in my free time after work). After that, I spent a year working in financial education, teaching financial literacy classes to a variety of people across DC. From that, I learned not only about money management but also how to speak in front of an audience.

I felt so much pressure my senior year at Wellesley to get the right job, but the thing I know now is that the job itself doesn’t really matter. It’s just an experience that you can parlay towards the path of discovering what you really want to do.

How has Wellesley contributed to your career?
At Wellesley I learned to recognize my value. This informs my life in myriad ways: from literally determining my financial worth when I’m quoting a client for a job, to knowing, if someone gives me a bad review, that my merit belongs in a deep acceptance of my true inner self and not the external opinions of others.

Also, playing field hockey at Wellesley showed me the importance of both playing hard and working hard. We all know Wellesley is difficult enough as it is, but I found that the student athletes tended to be the best at keeping priorities in line while still having a sense of perspective. Nothing was ever as stressful as it seemed, nothing was ever as terrible as it sounded, and everything was always, always, made better when we took time out to have fun. I think I can balance many pressures and responsibilities today because of my time at Wellesley.

What is a typical work day or work week like for you?
There is no typical work day for me! There are a few constants to my day, of course, that I’ve come to recognize as priorities for my well being: I start most mornings with meditation, and I always try to get some exercise in, whether it’s yoga, a swim, or a walk around the block. Beyond that, some days I may be on a ladder for 8 hours working on a chalk menu, or I could be elbow deep in sweaters while helping someone organize their closet. Since I’m working on my second book right now, I’m frequently reminded of cram sessions at Wellesley trying to finish a paper – I really learned how to efficiently eke out a paper in a short amount of time! Apologies to my professors…

What piece of advice would you offer students looking to get into your area of interest and expertise?
I know for a fact that my success as an artist is directly tied to the fact that I started out just doing it for fun. If you love it, you’d do it even if you weren’t getting paid. Hold onto that.

Also – be original. Don’t spend too much time paying attention to what other people are doing. I lose the clarity and originality of my ideas if I watch other artists or bloggers too much.

What do you wish you had known as a student?
That Wellesley is the most amazing place on earth! It was so easy to get wrapped up in the pressures of performing, getting good grades, finding an impressive internship, comparing yourself to everyone else’s accomplishments, etc. At the end of the day, Wellesley is the best thing that ever happened to me, and sometimes I wish I had been more present while I was on campus. Like, honestly – my room in Severance overlooking Lake Waban junior year? Heaven on earth.

Also, don’t stress about your major and how it will apply to your future. You chose a liberal arts school for a reason. I took a ton of classes about weapons and war strategy, which obviously have no bearing on my day-to-day life now, but I get a kick out of knowing there is a corner of my brain that is filled with knowledge on how, say, the invention of firearms changed warfare.

If you could come back and take one class at Wellesley what would it be?
All the studio art classes!

Where Are They Now: Gerrine Pan ’05

gerrine panPlease give a brief background on yourself and your career.
After moving to the east coast for Wellesley, I ping-ponged back and forth between New York and Boston for ten years before settling back in the Bay Area where I grew up.

Like a typical econ major, after graduating I high-tailed it to Wall Street! I spent three years at Goldman Sachs, then returned to Boston to attend Harvard Business School, and landed back in NYC to work at Tiffany & Co.

Now I’m back where I began in California, running a 35-person startup. It’s been an enlightening, sometimes frightening and very successful three and a half years for Relevant Mobile. We make mobile apps for restaurants that let customers pay, order online, and earn loyalty credit with their phones while gathering consumer data. We’re growing by the day. It’s pretty awesome.

How has your career changed since you originally envisioned it at Wellesley? What other careers did you consider as a student?
I had no idea what I really wanted to do while still at Wellesley. I did have a vague notion that I wanted to work somewhere internationally and that I wanted to run a company someday. My metrics then were based on what I thought was ‘cool’ in the business world. My metrics are evolving now to be more based on what I find fulfilling.

While at Wellesley I did internships in non-profit and academia (MIT), but I am glad I ended up on the business track.

How has Wellesley contributed to your career?
I got my first job at Goldman Sachs because a Wellesley alum pulled me in. She coached and mentored me, and three years later also wrote my recommendation letter for business school. I am so thankful that she did that. Paying it forward, my second hire at Relevant was a Wellesley alum – she rocks.

Also, while I didn’t start my career living the motto “Non Ministrari sed Ministrare,” I think I’ll return to those Wellesley roots at some point.

What is a typical work day or work week like for you?
While running a small company, you wear a lot of hats. Much of my time is focused on our sales efforts as well as account management, but I still do a bit of everything. It’s pretty exciting to be at this stage of growth. This morning I woke up to the news that one of our newest investors is a pro tennis player (!!). Then I made a presentation for a large partner of ours which sells the most point-of-sales (cash registers) in the U.S., helped our sales team determine pricing for a potential new client, and ended the day by putting together a demo of a new app that we plan to publish to the App Store soon. Tonight I’ll plow through ~50 emails before going to bed.

What piece of advice would you offer students looking to get into your area of interest and expertise?
Have tenacity. Listen to the market and abandon your original idea if you need to. I believe those things set successful entrepreneurs apart from the pack.

What do you wish you had known as a student?
I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what my path should be. I wanted to know: “What is that one thing that I am meant to do and that I will love?”

I wish I knew that there was no ‘one thing’. I wish I knew that all the thinking in the world wouldn’t help me get to the answer (and that the answer would change every couple of years anyway). I would just had to live it and figure it out on the way.

Advice to my younger self: Take the job that gives you a lot of experience. Work somewhere where you try a bunch of different things so you can learn what you excel in and what makes you feel excited when you do it. Maybe it’s communicating with people (ding ding, this is what it will be!), maybe it’s performing analytics, or perhaps you’ll just feel incredible satisfaction from editing something well. Take note, and incorporate that in your next job choice. Keep exploring and eventually you’ll be spending a lot of your time doing what you are good at and what you enjoy. That’s when you’ll have arrived at what you were looking for.

If you could come back and take one class at Wellesley what would it be?
More advanced Art History classes. The learnings from 101 have served me over and over again- I still have the textbooks!

Where Are They Now: Dawn Norfleet ’87

Dawn NorfleetPlease give a brief background on yourself and your career.
I’m a professional musician, composer, and music educator, based in the Los Angeles area. I’m rooted in traditional jazz as a flutist and vocalist, but my music reflects the multiplicity of my life experience and musical influences from soul, to classical, to African and Indian music. As a self-employed musician and educator, my work reflects the lives of contemporary independent artists who have found a need to have multiple income streams. Mine are mainly music, music education, and freelance writing. The creative life that has chosen me didn’t make things easy for me–nor is it always “fun” as many people naively comment when I say I’m a musician. Nevertheless, it’s certainly fulfilling and never boring.  I’m blessed that my life-path chose me, even when I don’t always feel that way.

I grew up in Inglewood, CA in a family of musicians. My older brother played music (R&B) professionally from the age of 12. My mother sang (light jazz), played piano and drums, and taught high school choir. My father played organ, piano, and sang. He played jazz, adult contemporary and country-and-western music for elderly white ladies with “beehive” hair-dos. Like other middle-class African American girls in my area, I took tap and ballet classes, baton lessons, and loved to cook. At age nine, I started playing flute in the school orchestra and sang in the school choir. I picked flute for the deep reason that it was pretty and shiny, and I liked “girly”, pink and frilly things back then. Plus, it distinguished me from my piano-playing family. I was also a bookworm, and loved school and reading. Music was just one of the many activities I was involved in, as a youth, and I didn’t think of myself as excelling in it at all.

My choice of Wellesley was probably not something anyone could’ve probably predicted. Wellesley seemed to be an unknown entity at my suburban, San Fernando Valley-based high school, where I was bussed in to “integrate”, voluntarily. Most seniors headed to the local universities, and college counselors only spoke distantly of how hard Harvard and Yale were to get into (no other schools on the East Coast existed). One would have to earn straight-As for four years, get a perfect score on the SATs, be a candy-striper, and do about 80 hours of community service per week while taking every AP classes the school had to offer, they pretty much said. So that ruled me out. I wanted a college that would evaluate me holistically and see my uniqueness and potential, not as a bunch of scores and data. One day in 11th grade, I got a brochure from this school with a funny name (Wellesley). I recalled one 11th grade teacher musing at her class to no one in particular: “If you get into Wellesley or Mount Holyoke, you can sit back proudly for the rest of your life and go, ‘ah’.” This teacher didn’t have much confidence in me, so I became interested in Wellesley and Mount Holyoke, as well as Scripps and another Eastern school with a weird name I’d thought was pronounced as “Dart Mouth.” I knew I wanted a small college not too far from an urban center, with an excellent academic reputation, a strong record of student retention–and far, far away from home. I researched the data, and Wellesley was the most intriguing fit. I went into my very first interview ever totally clueless and without any preparation, but it was the best interview I’d ever had. I’d left my interview feeling as if I could fly. Wellesley sent my first college acceptance letter, and I was elated.

Being a musician or a teacher was the last on my list of desired professions. So what did I do? Eventually, I majored in music. Then I composed Classical music in the Masters program at Columbia University. Then I studied how the New York City hip-hop community formed an entire culture around music in Columbia’s ethnomusicology program. After I finished a Ph.D. in music, I played music professionally. Then I taught music, while trying to play it (and played music while trying to teach it) at every grade level from college down to pre-K.

Along the way, I’ve self-produced two recordings of original music (which can be purchased on CD Baby and iTunes), and perform in concerts as a band leader and side musician. I also present concert-lectures; places have included the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Grammy Museum, and the California African American Museum. I’ve appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno accompanying an R&B star named Monica, and have recorded on an upcoming music album by superstar comedian, Eddie Murphy. In February 2013, a dream of mine was fulfilled: I performed a duo concert at Wellesley in a Black History program sponsored by Ethos. This performance is posted on YouTube.

How has your career changed since you originally envisioned it at Wellesley? What other careers did you consider as a student? 
When I was 10, I wanted to be a medical doctor, a ballerina, and orchestra conductor. Like other girls my age, my world of future possibilities was big enough to accommodate big dreams. When I was applying to college, I THINK I wrote in my college essays that I wanted to be an entertainment attorney. As soon as I became a student, I didn’t know what I wanted to be! Now that I’m well-into my adult years, in some ways, my original dream of being a professional multi-tasker has come true.  I’m a doctor– in music. I’m no ballerina, but I’m a musician. Instead of conducting a symphony orchestra, I’ve directed my own musical ensembles as well as student groups.

How has Wellesley contributed to your career?
Wellesley’s motto, non ministrari, sed ministrare (“not to be served, but to serve”) managed to stick in my head over the years. It’s true. I wasn’t too certain what that meant when I was a student. Maybe I thought it had a cool sound. Whatever the case, the more my life’s paths revealed themselves to me, the more I realized that “giving back” was an important part of the directions my paths took me, whether through my music, mentorship or teaching. Another important lesson has been in making certain that I’m good to myself, as well.

What is a typical work day or work week like for you?
I tend to plan my life according to sessions: Fall, Winter and Summer. This has to do with the years I’ve worked in schools and colleges, in addition to the twelve total years I spent in college and grad school. I don’t have a typical work day, because of the nature of my work commitments. Some jobs are seasonal, perhaps two-three months out of a year, and others are part-time, regular or on-going. Some commitments are single events, such as a concert or recording session. Work flow is unpredictable; after painfully slow periods, I can suddenly have sudden sustained bursts of intense business. However, I do try to maintain a degree of regularity. If I’m not scheduled to be away from home, I use Mondays to brainstorm and drum up new business opportunities, and the remaining to write and return emails, make calls, work on the business end of things, and of course, do the “art stuff”. I aim to exercise outdoors at least three times a week, with weights. I try to hit a nearby beach for a weekend evening walk. Unfortunately, I go to bed too late and often I find my brain trying to problem-solve while I should be trying to sleep! Part of my goal of achieving balance is to learn how to “turn off my brain”.

What piece of advice would you offer students looking to get into your area of interest and expertise?
Mentorship is valuable, whether in the academic, professional, or artistic areas. Forming a bond of mutual respect with a professor or professional whose work you admire, and who sees your potential, can be essential, wherever you are in your career. Because these seasoned people have “been there,” they can give you advice on early pitfalls to avoid; they can also put you in contact with their own network. This can be a relationship that continues a lifetime. “Clicking” with a professor or professional may or may not be something that happens immediately, but as you go deeply into your areas and distinguish yourself, it should happen at some point, naturally. Admittedly, I found the process of bonding kind of hard. In fact, I developed these bonds later in my academic career, and to this day, I check with one particular professor for advice. Even though she has retired, she still sends me professional opportunities and writes recommendation letters for me.

The best way to plant seeds of networking is through an internship with an individual, organization or a company that interests you. Aside from a formal internship, artistic apprenticeship has become more informal than generations ago. I’ve heard from older jazz musicians that one should seek mentorship from an elder, established musician. Go to this person’s concerts, tributes, special events, and let her or him know you as a person. Learn from being around this artist, and let them know your best work as well. Speaking frankly, sometimes gender has gotten in the way when I sought to work with some male musicians who responded to me more as a potential conquest than a peer. Some women professionals may not have an affinity for singling out other women to mentor, for whatever reason. But you keep on going and maintain your own integrity; if you’re a true artist, you do what you do and aspire toward excellence, regardless of recognition. A huge reason why I take mentorship so seriously was because I wanted to be that mentor I didn’t have growing up! When you do find those individuals who want to help you, count yourself blessed. At the same time–recalling non ministrari sed ministrare–consider how you can be of use to this artist you admire. The great equalizer of generations is social media. Many established people you admire are on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Some professionals (at least, jazz artists) welcome being respectfully appreciated. A great documentary about the special relationship formed between jazz legend, Clark Terry, and a budding young musician is Keep on Keepin’ On (2014).

As you become established in your career — recalling the non ministrari, sed ministrare principle– seriously consider how you can place yourself in a position to help others, through mentorship, volunteering, or other outreach. Did you ever hear one bit of advice that changed the direction of your life? Imagine having that impact on someone else. Even if you’re still in college, you are still an expert on some area that can be useful to someone else. Some of the lessons you’ve learned can be useful to a younger person just starting to find their own way. During the bumpiest of life’s travels, if you find yourself wallowing in self-pity, try volunteering your time in some capacity. “Getting out of yourself” can be the best therapy! In the midst of a major financial setback, I began volunteering my time to work with an NAACP-sponsored program where I help bring out the talent in young musicians. It not only brought me out of my self-pity cocoon, my work actually helped to fuel the creative life cycle. Helping others can literally help save your own life.

What do you wish you had known as a student?
If I’d known it was OK not to “fit in” early on, if I’d been more confident in my uniqueness, I would’ve been happier. I’d spent too much time thinking I should fit in somewhere. After spending my junior year exploring jazz and world music as an exchange student at Wesleyan, I’d made a decision to only be involved in those activities and organizations I wanted to be involved in when I returned to Wellesley as a senior. I finally was fine with navigating among very different groups of friends with very different interests. For the first time, also, I took myself seriously as a musician, and began to invest in the possibility of being a professional musician of some sort.

The unpredictability and ups-and-downs of the self-employed, creative life resulted in prompting me to question, then redefine, “success” for myself. So many of us define success by what we achieve, how much money we make, where our kids go to college (if we have any), the quality of vacations spend at The House on The Cape. Even for those in the traditional workplace, placing so much weight on stuff and status can easily send you into depression. Success by comparison, I’ve learned, is designed to make me feel “less than”. Once I rooted success in what I could give, rather than get, I had a broader appreciation of my own strength, relevance, impact in the world. Success, for me, now includes these concepts: mentorship – literally getting out of myself and sharing the knowledge I do have with others; challenging others to see success as inner-driven, rather than outer-imposed; challenging myself to learn and try new things and directions as an artist; and never seeing myself as having “arrived” as an artist.

If you could come back and take one class at Wellesley what would it be?
I probably would’ve taken a class in Women’s Studies or Africana Studies. I would’ve taken a class with the late professor, Tony Martin. But I don’t have any true regrets about the courses I took. Perhaps I would’ve tried out for the volleyball team. That was the only sport in which I had potential. I was too afraid of hurting my fingers, as a flutist, however.

Where Are They Now: Courtney Chin ’07

unnamedPlease give a brief background on yourself and your career.
I have been at Google since graduating from Wellesley almost 8 years ago (class of ’07). For a majority of the time, I worked in various operations roles within Google’s online advertising departments. I started as an entry-level customer service representative, got promoted to a technical account manager within a few months, and eventually built and led a global team at that reviewed third-party ad technologies that our advertising customers want to use on our platforms. This certification program ensures that these technologies respect user privacy, adhere to Google’s advertising policies, and technically function within our systems. After leading the team for almost 6 years, I decided to expand my domain knowledge outside of online advertising. I am now a program manager on the product management team. I specifically work in a department called Google for Maps for Work, which provides enterprise solutions for businesses, governments, and other entities that utilize Google Maps technology and data.

As a passion project, I am in the process of launching a start-up with fellow Wellesley classmate, Kristiana Teige Witherill (also ’07). Our company, called Salud Cocktails & Co., will be delivering cocktail ingredients within the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as selling some of the ingredients for mail order to the rest of the U.S.

How has your career changed since you originally envisioned it at Wellesley? What other careers did you consider as a student?
I came into Wellesley thinking that I had a definite plan of graduating with an Economics and Math double major and that I would end up in investment banking or consulting. I changed my major probably at least 3-4 times while I was out Wellesley. I ended up majoring in Spanish and Media Arts & Sciences, the latter which only became an official major during my Sophomore year at Wellesley. I wish I had discovered this major sooner and had taken more classes in this department. Interestingly, Google was the first company to offer me a job, and I decided to take it since I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life at the time. I ended up stumbling into Tech, and loving the culture and challenges of a fast-paced and ever-changing environment. My Media Arts & Science background has definitely helped me in my roles at Google from a technical knowledge and creative-thinking perspective.

How has Wellesley contributed to your career?
Wellesley encouraged me to be proactive and confident. This is not confidence in a way where I think I know everything. I don’t. However, I am confident that I will do my best to learn quickly and effectively. Wellesley teaches its students to want to learn, and that’s what will best arm you when pursuing pretty much any role or industry. Also, when it comes to learning, it’s not just about domain knowledge. It’s important to learn how to interactive with other people, how to support your teammates (who will end up supporting you), and how to admit when you’re wrong but grow from it.

What is a typical work day or work week like for you?
I don’t think I have a typical work week. The lack of predictability can be stressful, but I love being kept on my toes. If I have to generalize though, it’s filled with 4-6 hours of meetings a day and lots of task management trackers. However, the topics of conversation change all of the time. I work on feature and product launches, which requires working with engineering, sales, operations, technical support, marketing, public relations, legal and so on. With each launch, there are always new problems to solve or knowledge to learn.

What piece of advice would you offer students looking to get into your area of interest and expertise?
There is a pipeline issue in which women generally are not as encouraged to enter into Computer Science (though Wellesley obviously encourages women to break boundaries in all fields). Based on personal observation, I believe that an unfortunate stereotype that software engineers are dorky guys with no social skills. I would be a liar if I said this doesn’t exist, but there are many engineers with a wide range of interests and, yes, social skills. I work with a particularly vibrant young female engineer who surfs at beaches around the world. If you are particularly interested in software engineering, which is quite a lucrative career, I’d encourage you to take some courses or join groups such as Women Who Code to see if this is something that appeals to you. However, if coding doesn’t seem attractive to you, Tech includes a huge array of non-engineering roles as well. I would try to find internships or people in Tech to discuss their roles and lifestyles to see if this peaks your interest.

What do you wish you had known as a student?
I wish I had a better understanding of the day-to-day functions of various jobs in different industries. It would have helped me better decide what field of work I would like to get into. I happened to stumble into an industry that I enjoy fortunately, but I have many other friends or colleagues who had to take a longer route to find the role that they like.

If you could come back and take one class at Wellesley what would it be?
The Chemistry of Drugs course. I heard it was fun, and the knowledge would have been useful for the cocktail start-up!

Where Are They Now: Hannah Townsend ’11

Please give a brief background on yourself and your career.
It seems so strange to be old enough to have a career! I work in publishing, at a literary agency in New York. After graduating from Wellesley in 2011, I worked at the Davis Museum, where I worked on several exhibitions and catalogues. The Davis was such a special experience—my degree at Wellesley combined literature, social culture, and art history, and museum work afforded me the opportunity to combine these elements. From the Davis I went to complete my MPhil in Criticism & Culture at Pembroke College, Cambridge. This was a defining year in many respects, as the program allowed me to think broadly and boldly about the humanities, while also thriving in a collaborative and genial college environment. Cambridge—both the city and the University—has a mysticism and gravity to it that the United States just cannot quite replicate; something about the age and the tradition of the place that lends weight to its intractable tradition. It was, however, a great joy when I was catapulted back stateside after graduation, joining The Wylie Agency.

How has your career changed since you originally envisioned it at Wellesley? What other careers did you consider as a student?
I’ve always been someone who wanted to do everything and anything, as long as it required me to read and write. And to think. Originally I was convinced I would to go into academia—a conviction that lead me to Cambridge—but while there, I found myself fascinated by everyone else’s work as much as, if not more than, my own. It helped me appreciate that one can think and read and write broadly outside of the education system. During college, I had interned at Kneerim, Williams, & Bloom and loved watching a manuscript transform into a book—with extensive editorial and production handiwork. When the opportunity rose to join an agency after graduating from Cambridge, I was thrilled.

How has Wellesley contributed to your career?
Wellesley’s impact really cannot be overstated, more so in the intangibles than the concrete aspects. Of course everyone grasps the intensity and rigor of the academic programs, and they were spectacular and crucial to my intellectual formation. Without that underpinning I would not have been able to go to Cambridge, which led me to where I am now. Having said this, the parts of Wellesley that made the biggest difference were the connections I made, both with other students and professors. My time working at the Art Library was crucial—I spent my summers there and really cannot thank that department enough for both employing me for much of my adult life, and for allowing me to interact and work with some formidable minds, people who became my mentors and friends (and de facto therapists during dissertation meltdowns). Ideas can begin in the classroom, but they can also grow when you’re chatting with the person at work next to you, or during a department event, or really anywhere. Wellesley fostered that type of community.

What is a typical work day or work week like for you?
Well, it has taken me far too long to complete this posting, so it is quite a long week (and reading/writing on weekends). Generally, I get into work around 8:45/9 am (as I’m writing this, it is 7:30 AM on the MTA—morning meeting) and leave around 7:30 or 8 at night. Literary agents and assistants function primarily as the mediators between authors and publishing houses, so our work swings between working with authors on their manuscripts/ideas, schedules, speaking engagements, and taxes; and securing information on contracts, payments, royalty information, art direction, books, and publicity from the publishers. There are many, many emails and phone calls; most of your reading is done on the train or at night/on the weekend. And reading is really crucial, not only of one’s own authors, but also of the writers, bloggers, journalists, and academics that currently make up today’s literary landscape. I try and read something older with every contemporary book I take on; right now I’m reading both Karl Ove Knausgård and Anthony Trollope (The Way We Live Now) which, I’m finding, may have been a poor pairing.

What piece of advice would you offer students looking to get into your area of interest and expertise?
Read everything. I’m not kidding. Read literature you love and books that you hate, and be able to form and express your opinions cogently. Apply for internships early and often, but don’t expect them to be exclusively reading elite literature; they call it a “slush pile” for a reason. Yet nothing is more valued than someone who knows how to format a cover letter correctly or file contracts precisely. Administrative work is and always will be part of the job, but that ensures that the process of creating a book runs smoothly. And publishing—I cannot stress this enough—is not a job, so much as it is a vocation. It is a calling, and it is something to which you devote yourself wholeheartedly. This is never going to be a job you can leave at home in a 9 to 5 box; nor, with all honesty, should it be.

What do you wish you had known as a student?
You are not supposed to know what you want to do when you graduate. Some people do—most people say they do, but are too terrified of the unknown to admit it. There are a lot of ideas of what publishing or academia or any job should look like; take time to find out what they actually look like, and whether or not that is compatible with what you want to be doing. Very few people emerge from Wellesley as a fully formed Hillary Clinton and that’s okay. Wellesley is the beginning of the journey, not the culmination of it.

If you could come back and take one class at Wellesley what would it be?
Hm. Either Art History Methods, or a creative writing course. No—wait: the Economics course (ECON 223? Maybe?) that teaches you the fundamentals of personal finance. Which I suppose leads to another piece of advice for those wanting to get into publishing: get ready for New York prices.

Where Are They Now: Rachel Davis ’13

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Please give a brief background on yourself and your career.
I grew up in New Hampshire, raised by divorcees. My mom, a middle school teacher, kept the house running for me and my little brother as a single mother – something I still marvel at. I took an intro philosophy class in my second semester and I was hooked from day one. By my senior year, I had to petition the college to let me take more philosophy classes as I’d hit the limit of classes you could take in one subject. I was always fascinated by the intersection of feminism, philosophy, and tech.

I currently work at Square, a payments company, working on their Risk team – helping merchants deal with payment disputes, fighting chargebacks, and identifying fraudsters. When I’m not working directly with merchants, I’m managing the production of Risk content for the Square Support Center and for email support.

How has your career changed since you originally envisioned it at Wellesley? What other careers did you consider as a student?
At Wellesley, I thought I was going to go into the nonprofit space; I did three internships in nonprofit and government work. I thought that was the only way you could do good for the world. I’ve since discovered that if you’re very careful, and you pick a company with amazing vision and values, you can leave an immensely positive mark on the world and work in the for-profit sector.

How has Wellesley contributed to your career?
Wellesley brought me to Northern California for the first time, via a Global Engagement internship. That’s when I fell in love with this part of the country. My major in philosophy has been a great asset – I’m a strong communicator and able to execute with limited, ambiguous or abstract knowledge as a result of my education. I’m currently the Secretary of the Wellesley Club of Northern California and I continue to thrive here with the support of the Wellesley community.

What is a typical work day or work week like for you?
In a typical day at Square, I’ll spend a few hours on the phone with Square merchants who are experiencing payment disputes – helping to explain the process and collect evidence to effectively fight the chargeback. I also spend a lot of time actually putting evidence together and responding to payment disputes on behalf of our merchants. The rest of my day usually goes to more capacity-building projects – e.g., producing content, fine-tuning our system for tracking email support inquiries, or implementing customer satisfaction surveys.

What piece of advice would you offer students looking to get into your area of interest and expertise?
Get comfortable with quantitative thinking. It’s not as hard as it seems in college – when you’re doing it in a highly practical/applied environment, it’s MUCH easier to learn. I didn’t take a single math class at Wellesley and I’ve managed to teach myself a fair bit of stats on the job. Also, spend serious time figuring out which values and beliefs are important to you. Rely on them, stick to them through college and your career. You won’t regret it.

What do you wish you had known as a student?
That everything post-graduation was going to be okay. Seriously. I was so stressed out through college trying to set myself up for success after graduating, and in the end, it’s my random intellectual interest in philosophy of language and technology that has opened up doors and made connections for me. Do well in school to cover your bases, but do whatever you can to find and follow your passions/interests – and don’t stress so much.

If you could come back and take one class at Wellesley what would it be?
Statistics! I’m okay at it now, but I’d love to have a really strong foundation.