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.

Where Are They Now: Haley Beth Organ ’07

HaleyBeth_OrganPlease give a brief background on yourself and your career:
Born and raised in the suburbs of Kansas City, I am a huge barbecue and baseball fan. I find it noteworthy to mention this because it’s the only thing about me that has stayed true over the years.

I entered Wellesley in the fall of 2003 as a biology major on the pre-med track. It took almost 2 full years of undergraduate study for me to finally accept the fact that chemistry and calculus were not my friends. At that point, I switched to a major in psychology. After graduating from Wellesley in 2007, I returned home to develop an anti-poverty initiative called Young Achievers at the YMCA of Greater Kansas City as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. My experiences at the YMCA included grant writing, curriculum development, and marketing, solidifying my interest in non-profit management and working with people.

After a year at the YMCA, I moved to St. Louis, Missouri to attend graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis, where I received my Master of Social Work in 2010. My concentration in graduate school was macro-level social work, with an emphasis in program evaluation. Since then, I have worked as a program evaluator at the largest hospital system in the state of Missouri, evaluating the effectiveness of school-based health education programs.

The more I’ve learned and practiced the concepts of program evaluation, the more I’ve become interested in the idea of data visualization, or visually organizing data in a way that quickly and easily shows patterns, trends, and correlations. My interest in making data accessible and easy to understand for the everyday consumer led me back to school in 2014, where I earned a certificate in digital media and graphic design.

These days I am still evaluating the effectiveness of school-based health education programs, but have also started my own freelance graphic design business specializing in creating infographics and other data visualizations.

How has your career changed since you originally envisioned it at Wellesley?
I have to laugh when I think back to my days at Wellesley and what I thought my career would look like. I came in to Wellesley thinking I would follow in the footsteps of the late great Steve Irwin, Crocodile Hunter. I was interested in animal conservation and wanted to dedicate my life to being a zookeeper. After a few biology and anthropology courses at Wellesley, I became interested in pathology and forensics and thought I would become a Crime Scene Investigator like on TV. And then finally, after a few psychology courses at Wellesley, I decided I liked the idea of applied psychology and wanted to become a social worker. And, as they say, the rest was history.

How has Wellesley contributed to your career?
The biggest way that Wellesley has contributed to my career is that it taught me to be intellectually curious, to take risks, to believe in myself, and to create the opportunities I want.

What is a typical work day or week like for you?
What I like about my job is that it is really hard to say what a typical day or week looks like. If it’s during the school year, I tend to work on more data cleaning and analysis projects. Summer has more downtime, so I tend to work on more curriculum-related and website projects. Sprinkled in between all of that, I teach at a university once a week, participate in a number of coalitions and professional organizations that each have their own meetings and conferences, and I take as many professional development classes, workshops, and seminars as possible.

What piece of advice would you offer students looking to get into your area of interest and expertise?
As cliché as it sounds, sometimes it really is about who you know, not what you know. Network with as many people as you can. Be willing to take risks, but also learn to say no. Never stop learning, creating, or trying your hand at something new.

What do you wish you had known as a student?
I wish I had known that it’s okay not to know what you want to do with your life. I also wish I had known that it’s okay to change your mind. I’m almost 10 years out of Wellesley and some days I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. But that’s really okay. Just be sure to enjoy the journey.

If you could come back and take one class at Wellesley what would it be?
If I could do it all over again, I would retake a class called Downtown New York City’s Music Scene.  It was an upper-level course in the Music department where I got to listen to the Ramones and the Velvet Underground and call it homework. My final paper for the course was on the godmother of punk, Patti Smith. I wish I had realized back then just how cool this class really was.

Where Are They Now: Grace Leeson ‘14

Please give a brief background on yourself and your career.
I’m originally from Cumming, Georgia and majored in History at Wellesley. After graduating in May, I moved to New York to study and perform comedy. With a little luck and a Wellesley friend’s recommendation, I interned at Don’t Think Productions (DTP), the digital branch of the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) Theater. This internship opened the door to oodles of talented, incredible people that invited me to help on their film sets and eventually offered paid work. As DTP obtained more clients for branded content productions, I’ve had the opportunity to work as a production coordinator for funny web videos for companies like Lenovo and Above Average. Last fall, I joined UCB’s all-women’s sketch team, LASH. These days, I divide my time between serving as Producer on branded comedy shoots, and performing improv and sketch comedy around the city.

How has your career changed since you originally envisioned it at Wellesley? What other careers did you consider as a student?
When I came to Wellesley, I was another excited first-year considering a career in International Relations or growing up to be the next Professor Catherine Wearing. Honestly, I spent four years with absolutely no idea what kind of career I should pursue. Generally, I wanted a career where I felt smart, so graduate school or grassroots activism work dominated most of my research projects and internships.

How has Wellesley contributed to your career?
Dead Serious, the best (and only) improv troupe on campus was simultaneously the silliest and most instructive activity I did at Wellesley. I spent two hours a week rolling on the ground with laughter and learned to execute three day comedy festivals. These friends gave me my first production jobs, housed me without blinking, and are the best mentors and pals around. We continue to collaborate on shows and shoots to this day. I would not be a producer at UCB had I not joined Dead Serious.

Wellesley surrounded me with brilliant people that love to work hard, so I knew what kind of people I wanted to work with once I left campus. My favorite workplace skill from Wellesley was learning to listen more so that I could more accurately advocate for others and myself.

What is a typical work day or work week like for you?
Production is largely project based. As a short form branded content producer, my workdays vary during pre-production, production, and post-production days. I spend most of my time coordinating the creative teams, scouting locations, and booking talent. Shoot days are the most fun, because I can watch directors and cinematographers, essentially receiving free film classes. DTP is a tiny but mighty production company, so I do a little bit of everything to make sure we operate the best we can.

What piece of advice would you offer students looking to get into your area of interest and expertise?
Move to the city where you have at least one friend with similar tastes and interests. If they have different talents than you do, then all the better! Whether you want to write, direct, produce, act, shoot, or edit, having that friend can be the jolt of energy that you need to keep being an artist.

Say yes to every production job you are offered. At first, it’s the only way to meet people and to learn the lay of the land.

Prepare to not have money. Trust yourself that you’ll get by, because you’re intelligent and hardworking and production sets usually have free food.

What do you wish you had known as a student?
I wish I had known what internships were really supposed to teach you. Internships are for learning what kind of project structure, work environment, and people keep you looking forward to going to work every day. I wasted so much time not applying to internships because I thought that the internship was geared toward a specific career that I wasn’t sure I would like.

I also wish I had known much earlier that I should apply to graduate school once I have a goal that requires graduate school as a prerequisite. Very few people know exactly what makes them happy at 22 years old. Graduate school was an idea that I entertained instead of admitting to myself that I truly loved comedy and performance. Honestly, coming out as a lesbian and as a comedian were equally difficult and ended the same way. I found a community to relate to, and I stopped lying to my parents about what I was doing on Saturday nights.

If you could come back and take one class at Wellesley what would it be?
I had a running list of classes that I wanted to take before I graduated starting sophomore year on my old computer. Anything with Cudjoe or Jeffries. And I’m truly bummed that I never took Astro 101.

What’s happening with the CWS — week of 4/13

this week @ cws

Below are this week’s upcoming events and deadlines at the CWS. These listings and more can be found in MyCWS. Make sure you subscribe so that you receive the updates directly to your inbox!

Monday, April 13-

  • PEEK into life at Harvard Business School |5:00-6:30PM | Wellesley College Club, Counsel Dining Room - Would you like to PEEK into life
    at Harvard Business School? Come to an information session led by Dee Leopold, Managing Director of MBA Admissions at Harvard Business School.
  • Interviewing & Networking for Athletes | 7:30-8:30PM | PNE 239 - SAAC and the CWS are teaming up to bring an Interviewing and Networking Workshop to the Athlete Community. Come learn some interview tips and networking tricks!

Wednesday, April 15 -

  • UK Fellowships Info Session |4:30-5:30PM | GRH 442 (CWS library) - This info session will review fellowships that fund graduate study in the UK. We’ll review the Rhodes, Marshall, Mitchell, Churchill, Fulbright, Gates-Cambridge and Saint Andrews Society Scholarships, including application components, the campus nomination process, and the fellowship experience. RSVP on MyCWS.

Thursday, April 16 -

  • You Have a Job With Benefits or an Internship With Out…Now What? | 12:30-1:30PM | Lulu Wang Center, Room 413 - Learn important tips on how to best prepare before leaving Wellesley and how to utilize your new benefits package or alternative health options to stay healthy. Presented by: Sarah Cooper Munger RD, and Nancy Baden, RN, Community Outreach Nurse.
  • MBTI Workshop | 4:40-6:00PM | GRH 428 - Using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can help you understand who you are and how you make career choices. Are you a reflective person who makes decisions based on your values? Are you a conceptual thinker who likes to plan your day? Or, are you a pragmatist who goes with the flow?  How does knowing this help you choose a potential career? Registered participants will be notified when the online MBTI assessment is available to take through MyCWS.
  • 2015 Day To Make A Difference Site Leader Info Session | 5:00-6:00PM | PNE 239 - Continue Wellesley’s rich tradition of service and citizenship by being a Site Leader for the College’s sixteenth annual Day to Make A Difference in Fall 2015. Each year, this day of service gives students, alumnae, faculty, and staff a chance to volunteer in their communities. As a Site Leader, you have the opportunity to lead a group of volunteers and oversee a service site. If you are interested in learning more about the Site Leader positions, we encourage you to attend an information session. Please register for this event through MyCWS.

Friday, April 17 -

  • Planning for Law School | 4:30PM | PNE 239 - Come for a candid presentation on preparing for law school, thinking carefully about whether or not to attend, strategizing where to apply, anticipating life as a law student and the work life of a lawyer. Q&A will be integrated into the presentation and addressed at the close of the program. RSVP on MyCWS.

 

featured jobs of the week

All jobs and internships can be viewed via MyCWS; use MyCWS Job ID numbers to search.

  • Philanthropy Intern, Brookline, MA (MyCWS ID 15564)
  • Marketing Internship, Wayland, MA (MyCWS ID 15566)
  • Business Development Intern, Wellesley, MA (MyCWS ID 15570)
  • Engineering and Computing Internship – Publishing, Waltham, MA (MyCWS ID 15547)
  • Life Sciences Publishing Internship, Waltham, MA (MyCWS ID 15546)
  • Physical Sciences Publishing Internship, Waltham, MA (MyCWS ID 15545)
  • Books Marketing Internship, Waltham, MA (MyCWS ID 15544)
  • Development/Fundraising Intern, Boston, MA (MyCWS ID 15567)
  • Impact America Media Production Fellowship, Birmingham, AL (MyCWS ID 15569)
  • Fall Intern, Office of the Governor, Boston, MA (MyCWS ID 15578)
  • CWS Fall Intern: Internships Team, Wellesley College (MyCWS ID 15595)
  • CWS Fall Graphic Design Intern, Wellesley College (MyCWS ID 15596)
  • CWS Fall Social Media Intern, Wellesley College (MyCWS ID 15597)
  • CWS Fall Communications/Marketing Intern, Wellesley College (MyCWS ID 15598)
  • CWS Fall Intern: On-Campus Recruiting Team, Wellesley College (MyCWS ID 15622)