Former Wellesley Student-Athlete Shares Her Career Advice

1546397_830445932552_630110233_nJessica Duff ’09, graduated from Wellesley with a degree in Women’s and Gender Studies. While at Wellesley, Duff was a four-year member of both the basketball and volleyball teams. After Wellesley, Duff went on to earn her Master’s in Education from Tufts in 2012. 

I will never forget the day my collegiate athletic career ended, for up until that point my life had largely revolved around training sessions, pre-season workouts, and playoff games. Suddenly, my athletic career was all over, and I was left to redefine myself in light of this abrupt change. As part of this self-reflection, I realized that while my playing days were over, my experiences as a student-athlete at Wellesley would continue to shape me for the rest of my life. These experiences taught me commitment, leadership, teamwork, diversity and responsibility. Through challenges I learned resilience, and through successes I learned humility. My teammates were my unwavering backbone throughout my time at Wellesley and in striving to provide the same support for them I learned accountability and selflessness. I learned to sustain my competitive spirit, drive and desire to win, even in the face of defeat. I learned to accept my teammates’ differences and to create an open and safe environment where those differences were welcomed and celebrated. I could not attribute the person I had become to the points I scored or the digs I had, or even to the biggest wins or losses; instead it was my teammates, my coaches, and the overwhelming sense of pride I felt as I stepped onto the basketball and volleyball court wearing Wellesley Blue that truly shaped me and that I would remember forever.

Upon realizing how much of my identity was tied to my experience as a Wellesley student-athlete – and because I believed so deeply in the importance of fostering that same positive opportunity to grow and benefit as I was privileged enough to experience – I committed myself to doing just that. Since graduating from Wellesley in 2009, I have been coaching and involved in athletic administration at various institutions. First, I grad assisted the Women’s Basketball Team at Tufts University for the three years it took to complete my Master’s. Then I spent a year coaching both Women’s Basketball and Volleyball at UMASS Boston, and currently, I am in my first year as assistant to the Athletic Director and assistant Women’s Basketball Coach at Mount Holyoke College. Coaching is not merely about teaching technical skills, but about educating individuals to achieve high levels of success, both on and off the court. While I can sympathize with the many collegiate athletes who are dreading the day their careers come to an end, the life lessons they gain are everlasting.

I think that Wellesley student-athletes are uniquely equipped to make themselves marketable to any employer. I talked about how my experiences shaped me individually, but the reality is that all student-athletes gain similar skill sets from the college athletic experience, especially at such a demanding school as Wellesley. There is no doubt that the College’s academic and prestigious reputation is what drew me to Wellesley, but participating in intercollegiate athletics is what kept me there.

Getting Involved with the Alternative Break Movement

What can I possibly accomplish this Wintersession that is more productive than eating Nutella and watching Sherlock every day for a month?

During my first semester as a first-year at Wellesley, I was overwhelmed. Searching for something to do over Wintersession was definitely adding to that stress. It seemed like left and right, my peers were lining up internships, jobs, and projects, while I was struggling to keep up with the dining hall schedules. With laundry, classwork, Ultimate Frisbee, and new friends, I didn’t even have time to stop and realize what a routine my life had become.

The college campus bubble is a terrifyingly real problem. As students, we settle into our lives and block out anything that doesn’t seem to directly impact our lives or academic and social success. I noticed that I would read the news about terrible things happening all over the world, yet carry on with my day without truly processing what I had just read. I had begun to neglect anything occurring outside of the 500 acres that make up Wellesley’s campus.

So, it definitely felt like fate that one early morning, while drowsily walking to breakfast, that I read a sign publicizing Alternative Breaks, a program attempting to get more students involved in service over Wintersession and Spring Break. As a student who was exploring pre-med opportunities, the trip going to New York to work with God’s Love, We Deliver, seemed like the perfect opportunity to further confirm my interest in medicine. And the week was truly perfect.

God’s Love is an organization that provides free dietician-approved meals to people all over New York City who suffer from serious afflictions and are in some way incapable of cooking healthy meals for themselves. In the five days we spent working there, we did everything from chopping seemingly endless amounts of onions, to packing over thirty meals a minute, to actually delivering the meals to the client’s homes.

For me, delivering the distinctive brown bags of meals was my favorite aspect of the trip, because not only did I see a completely new perspective of the different boroughs of the city, but also was able to experience first hand the impact that the organization has on the lives of hundreds of people. We were each paired with a driver and a van – that seemed far too large to double park as it did all over the city – and went on their delivery route for a few hours. Each delivery consisted of locating the room, knocking, greeting the client, and dropping off the food. That was it. But each delivery was incredibly impacting. There were moments that were particularly difficult, like certain deliveries with very sick or lonely clients, and some that were cheerful and happy. But all the clients were grateful in an extremely powerful way that we as college students do not often get the chance to experience.

We were fortunate enough to meet with executives from not only God’s Love, but also from Harlem United, an incredible foundation that provides healthcare to HIV+ clients. They answered our many questions and gave us great insight into how these types of organizations sustain themselves and maintain models with such-high standards of quality. Never before had I been given the access to the inner workings of groups of this size and stature, and it was eye-opening to see the huge variety of opportunities available not only in the healthcare field, but to any person who felt a real commitment to helping others.

Besides the volunteering work and satisfying daily reflections, we really bonded as a group. We were of such a variety: from different countries, years, and backgrounds; with different interests and hobbies. But we were all bonded by a motivation to impact others. We got to know each other extremely quickly through our nightly dinner duties, exploring various parts of New York City (like the Fat Cat, a trendy, hipster jazz club with pool and other games), exploring HIV exhibits in the library, playing Taboo, chatting during our hour-long subway commutes, walking around Central Park, and lying in our bunk bed filled hostel room, talking late into the night. Never before had I been more pleasantly surprised by a group of people, and seeing these people around campus has made my second semester so much brighter.

This trip did much more than prevent me from watching Sherlock for a month straight: it quite possibly changed my professional career. Working at God’s Love, surrounded by driven and talented people, I felt a motivation and drive that I hadn’t felt yet at Wellesley, and for that reason alone, if not for every other wonderful aspect of this trip, I whole heartedly recommend participating in an Alternative Break. There is so much variety in the places one can volunteer through this program, but no matter what interests anyone has, I think that these trips help us to break free of the college bubble. And perhaps, one day soon, you’ll find yourself holding hands with a group of eleven new friends, ice-skating in Central Park, determined to make some change in both the world and your life, happier and more satisfied than you’ve been in a long time.

-Shreya Thatai ’17

If you enjoyed reading about Shreya’s Alternative Break experience and are interested in this movement, there are plenty of opportunities for you to get involved! We are currently accepting applications for the leadership positions of Coordinator and Site Leader through MyCWS. No previous Alternative Break experience is required for either of these positions, although familiarity with community involvement and demonstrated leadership abilities are strongly preferred. Applications are due April 22th. We will also be accepting applications for trip participants in the fall, so be on the look out for that next year! Please visit the Alternative Breaks website for detailed position descriptions and more application information: http://www.wellesley.edu/cws/serves/AlternativeBreaks. Questions? Email us @ wellesleyalternativebreaks@gmail.com

 

What’s happening with the CWS — week of 4/14

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 14-

  • Red Cross Blood Drive | 10:00 AM-3:00 PM | Tishman Commons - Join us for Wellesley’s semester blood drive! Help out either by donating or by volunteering to assist the Red Cross. Appointments are recommended and can be made at redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS, sponsor code 958!

Tuesday, April 15-

  • CWS QuickFix Grant Application Deadline | NOON | Online - CWS “Quick Fix” Grants provide small amounts of funding to support short-term student projects that could not be anticipated far enough in advance to be covered by SOFC funding. Submit application through MyCWS Schedule # 1119. More information about the Grant can be found in MyCWS.
  • Berkeley MFE Information Session | 1:00 PM-2:00 PM | Online - If you have a passion for problem-solving , the Berkeley Master of Financial Engineering program wants to talk to you about how we can jump-start your finance career.  After completing our one-year program, our students are placed in positions in trading, asset management, portfolio management, risk management and related roles.  Join us to learn how we can position you for a career in finance. Online session is open to the public.  Q&A with alumni, admissions staff, and executive director.  Bring your resume for an on-the-spot review of your background. RSVP online.

Wednesday, April 16-

  • Legal Market Webinar | 12:00 PM-12:45 PM | Online - James G. Leipold, executive director of the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) will present on hiring and compensation data, career paths, and trends in large firm hiring. A short Q & A segment will follow the presentation. RSVP online.
  • U.K. Fellowships Info Session | 4:30 PM-5:30 PM | PNW 212 - 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. While most of these awards do not have a minimum GPA requirement, most successful candidates have a GPA of at least 3.7. Please RSVP on MyCWS.

Thursday, April 17-

  • Kickstart your Job Search! | 4:30 PM-5:30 PM | PNE 239 - Spring is finally here, and that means that summer is around the corner….Does your job search need a kickstart? If you haven’t begun or are not sure about next steps, please come to our workshop on April 17. This workshop will help you refocus your time and effort, create an action plan, and make sure you are pulling together all of the components of an effective job search while continuing to clarify your goals/objectives. Tailored for seniors. Please RSVP on MyCWS.

 

featured jobs of the week

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

  • Office & Production Manager, Watertown, MA (MyCWS Job ID #11426)
  • Brazil Marketing and Product Intern, Cambridge, MA (MyCWS Job ID #11428)
  • Communications Internship, Los Angeles, CA (MyCWS Job ID #11419)
  • Technical Support Specialist, Beltsville, MD (MyCWS Job ID #11402)
  • Analyst, People Operations, New York City, NY (MyCWS Job ID #11404)
  • Business Development Consultant, Burlington, MA (MyCWS Job ID #11395)
  • High School Teacher, Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, CT (MyCWS Job ID #11398)
  • Public Health Analyst, Research Triangle Park, NC (MyCWS Job ID #11383)
  • Equities Trader, New York City, NY (MyCWS Job ID #11384)
  • Human Resources Assistant, Cambridge, MA (MyCWS Job ID #11375)
  • Software Support Analyst, Wilmington, MA (MyCWS Job ID #11354)

A Student Perspective on Conducting Informational Interviews with Alumnae

Catherine B. ’15, a CWS intern on the CWS marketing and communications team, has put together information she discovered from conducting informational interviews with Wellesley alumnae. Take a look below:

Wellesley alums are – without a doubt – one of the best resources at Wellesley. Our alums are passionate and almost always eager to speak to current students. As a second-semester junior, here are some of the lessons I’ve learned from networking with these fantastic women:

Come With Questions
After thanking an alum for having coffee with me, she ended the conversation with how “impressed” she was by my questions. I asked her what she meant, after which she explained that students would often times sit down and expect her to just start talking. Moreover, another alum told me how frustrated she is when students ask general questions that are easily accessible online (ie, her career history that is available on LinkedIn). Both alums emphasized that meetings like these become a “waste of time,” discouraging the alums from agreeing to meet with future students.

TIP:
-When reaching out to an alum, be sure to specify your particular reasons for contacting her in the first place. Take a look at these sample networking emails on the CWS website.

-If an alum does agree to speak with you, be sure to prepare beforehand. Read through her LinkedIn profile thoroughly, learn about her current and past companies/organizations, and create a list of specific questions tailored for her in particular. The “Networking” section of the CWS website is a great place to start (and one of the website’s best kept secrets).

The Little Things Matter
From initial contact to final goodbye, all of the little things matter. Alums will, understandably, take note of how you conduct yourself over email, on the phone, and in-person. Your demeanor demonstrates your competence.

TIP:
-Your email correspondence, conversation, and dress (if in-person) should generally be professional (see these suggestions for successful interviewing). Be sure to personalize your LinkedIn connection request (nix the LinkedIn generic message). And always, always write a thank you note!

“Stay in Touch” Means “Stay in Touch”
Another alum told me how frustrated she is when students do not “stay in touch” as promised. After making the time to speak to students about internship opportunities, she never heard back from them!

TIP:
-When you do eventually find that job or internship, be sure to thank those who helped you along the way. Send a quick email to the alum informing her of your plans – doing so demonstrates your genuine interest in establishing a long-term professional relationship.

Some Thoughts on Interviewing by Christine Allen ‘07

Working in sales, I view the job-procurement process just like any other sales process. I have something to discuss with you that may be helpful to you in meeting your goals and objectives – in this case, this just happens to be my own skills and experience — and you need to decide if my skills and experience are the best fit for you, and your company. One axiom of sales is that getting that first meeting is the toughest part of the whole process; so, if you have an interview, congratulate yourself! You’ve already dramatically increased your odds that you will be chosen for the job.

The way I often pitch introductory meetings (a.k.a. interviews) to prospective clients (future employers) is by saying, “We’ll share with you some of the stories regarding how our solution has worked for others and then see if it’d be appropriate for your company.” It’s a softer approach – nobody’s giving anyone the hard sell – but it will do the job and get the point across. The same approach works well with interviews: Create a narrative of why your experience has given you the skills that they’re looking for in this job.

Before going to an interview, sit down with three pieces of information – the job description, company website, and the LinkedIn profile (or, at least, the title) of the person(s) you’re interviewing with. Cull from the job description the skills that they’re looking for and then map out what experiences you have that illustrate that you have those skills. If you’re still in school, these may well include experiences from volunteering, clubs, etc. Depending on the type of person that you are, you may want to create an actual deliverable that looks like:

Job Requirement: _____________ (example: database experience, collaborative, etc.)

Yes, I can do that because _________________ (example: during my on-campus job, I worked with a Microsoft Access database to … and list three things that you did that are germane to the database experience that they’re looking for).

Each story should be about 2-3 sentences, 4-5 clauses, or a maximum of a minute long. Make sure you have the top 10 job requirements covered with a story each. They don’t have to be different stories. For example, you might say, “During my job on-campus working with Microsoft Access, I also collaborated with my co-worker on a project to consider a new database product.”

Once you have your narrative laid out, review your information and come up with at least 10 questions you want to ask. These could touch on topics like the hiring manager’s management style, the culture of the company/department, the career path your job has within the company, the company’s marketplace, what the interviewer thinks are the most important attributes for the job. For that last one, make sure you have stories ready so that you can say something like, “Oh, I’m so glad to hear that – that reminds me of a time when I …” and insert a sentence about how you (of course!) possess exactly those attributes.

If I had to guess, I would say that your interview is going to go like this: introduction, interview, questions, transition. Here are some preparation tips for each portion: Have enough printed copies of your resume ready for the introduction portion so that you can give one to each interviewer. Have your narrative prepped for the interview portion. Also, know your resume – it’s basically an outline and flash cards for the stories you want to tell in the interview. Have your 10 (or more questions) written down on your folio where you’re jotting notes during the interview and write down a couple reminder notes as you get the answers. Lastly, make sure to get business cards from interviewers so that you have the proper spelling of their name and their address for when you send your handwritten thank-you notes. You will want to send a follow-up email, as well; but I always send a handwritten thank-you note to each person that I interviewed with. I’ve always gotten positive reviews from people, and I’m sure it’s significantly contributed to my getting certain jobs.

 

Happy interviewing!

STEM Career Advice From Jessie Link ’00: Chase Your Passion

IJessie-headshot-smt was a month into my first job, a temporary year-long assignment in Texas, and I had come to an unexpected and startling self-realization. Pilot training was less than a year away, and I didn’t want to go. It wasn’t that I was afraid, or that I wasn’t a good pilot. My civilian training had gone swimmingly and I enjoyed the act of flying. But flying didn’t feel like a calling, whereas the time I had spent learning how to write working software had been more thrilling than I would have imagined. The act of powering through a problem, finding the bug in my code, and seeing the new and improved code actually run correctly on my screen – it was magical.

Even though I worried that I might disappoint some people who expected me to take the “cool” job (“Who doesn’t want to fly jets?”), I took the leap and switched career paths. Over the past 14 years, I’ve had two more difficult choices – once when I chose to separate from the Air Force and begin my civilian career, and more recently when I decided to jump from a secure job at a large company to a position at a start up. Both times my choice was driven by that passion for creating software and the desire to stay hands on. I left the Air Force because even though I loved the service, I wanted to stay in the realm of software development. I left my last company because despite my move into the management track, I still wanted to stay involved with the technical work – I wanted the chance to feel the magic of creating software, even if it was only a small part of my daily work.

When I was first asked to write this blog post, they suggested that I give advice to students who were looking to acquire experience for a position like mine. Obviously your own journey may be very different from mine. But one piece of advice I can give is to have the courage to chase your passion. If you find your career moving you away from that, don’t be afraid to change course, even if it means moving into a new domain that you don’t know as well. Some of the best developers I’ve worked with discovered their passion for software development later in life. For example, my Operations lead actually got his bachelor’s degree in religious studies.

In my role as Director of Engineering, I evaluate many resumes from people of all skill levels. The candidates that stand apart are those who exhibit the same passion for their discipline. My advice to any young engineer is to make sure that your own resume shows that passion. This is not to say that you need years of internships on your resume, or that you need to have written code since you were in middle school. But your resume should be more than just a list of classes you’ve taken (the equivalent of saying “Well, I went to college. I was present most of the time.”) Look for opportunities to go the extra mile – coding clubs, personal projects on the side, participating in open source development – and make sure you have those experiences on your resume. If your experience has been largely academic, then make sure you highlight projects you were excited about.

One more final piece of advice: part of the reason that STEM struggles to attract and retain women is due to “imposter syndrome” – some studies suggest that women will fail to even apply for a job unless they feel they meet 100% of the requirements listed. Part of loving what you do is knowing that there will always be something new and exciting to master in your field, and often you’ll have to learn on the job as you go. Don’t be part of that statistic above – if you know what kind of job you want or a particular posting intrigues you, then go for it.

My time at Wellesley supplied me with the confidence to tackle my career challenges and have faith in my own abilities to excel. This liberal arts education provided me with a versatile skillset, pushing me to take advantage of interesting opportunities that may have scared off someone with a more “pure” or major-focused background. If you’re a current Wellesley student, pay attention: you may find your passion in unexpected places as you fulfill your liberal arts requirements. If you’re a Wellesley graduate and unhappy with your career, it’s never too late to find your calling elsewhere.

Jessie Link is the Director of Engineering at Lookingglass Cyber Solutions. She has over 14 years experience as a software engineer. She honed her leadership skills as an officer in the U.S. Air Force for 6 years before joining the private sector. Jessie graduated with a bachelor’s in Computer Science from Wellesley College in 2000, and a master’s in Information Systems from Hawaii Pacific University in 2006. She is a certified CSM and PMP. She enjoys mentoring young developers and is an active coach and participant with RailsGirls. Though she mostly spends her day herding cats, on occasion her devs let her into the code repo to do some damage. She’s happy to report that she just submitted two pull requests the other day. Jessie welcomes emails from Wellesley students and alumnae who have questions about careers in engineering (jelink@alum.wellesley.edu).

What’s happening with the CWS — week of 4/7

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 7-

  • LinkedIn/W Network Workshop | 12:30-1:30 PM | PNE 127 - Need an introduction on how to network on LinkedIn? Not sure how to find Wellesley alumnae and get career advice from them? Join us for this workshop and learn how to use the NEW W Network on LinkedIn! Please RSVP on MyCWS.
  • Exploring Early-Career Opportunities at HBS | 2:00-5:00 PM | Harvard Business School - This event will focus on the following four positions: Faculty Assistant, Program Coordinator, Staff Assistant, and Research Associate, which are year-round and cyclical hires. This is intended to give upcoming graduates and alums the opportunity to understand the culture and expectations at HBS, explore these job opportunities, and engage with HBS hiring managers.
  • Head Start Series – Finance #1 | 6:00-7:00 PM | PNE 139 - This panel features 3-4 seniors who have received offers from various banks (the list includes Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, etc.). They will share their recruiting experiences, and answer any questions you may have about how to land yourself into the field of finance. Please RSVP on MyCWS.

Tuesday, April 8-

  • Why Become an Actuary and How Panel | 4:30 PM | PNE 339 - Actuaries are increasingly sought after in a growing number of industries because of the demand for their analytical and problem solving skills. Good news is that most actuaries love being an actuary because it allows them to use their talents and have a meaningful positive impact. As one actuary put it: “I like to think that I’m helping people. I’m helping them get good health care, I’m helping them protect themselves in old age. I’m creating economic growth.” In this panel, two alums – Kathy Barnes and Dana Trail – will share with you their experiences of becoming an actuary. If you are interested in knowing more about the world of actuarial industry, whether you are a fit for it, and how you should prepare yourself to land in the industry, please join us! Please RSVP on MyCWS.
  • Grad School Visit: Careers in Accounting & Business? | 5:30-6:30 PM | PNE 139 - Northeastern University will be on the Wellesley campus with a panel, including a Wellesley alum, to discuss careers in accounting and the MSA/MBA program! Please RSVP on MyCWS.
  • Head Start Series – Finance #2 | 7:00-8:00 PM | PNE 139 - Three alums from Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, and Goldman Sachs will share with you the key to entering the finance field. Plus, they have worked in different sections of banking and different geological areas of banks around the world! Please RSVP on MyCWS.

Wednesday, April 9-

  • Tuck Business Bridge Program | 12:30-1:30 PM | PNE 139 - The Tuck Business Bridge Program® connects highly qualified rising juniors, seniors and recent graduates in liberal arts and sciences to a meaningful business career—all while developing personal strengths that will last you a lifetime. Alice Sedgwick, Tuck Business Bridge Program Manager, and Nicole Faherty from this Dartmouth summer program, will present an information session. Please RSVP on MyCWS.
  • Bridgewater State University Education Career Fair | 4:00-7:00 PM | Bridgewater State University - Please join us for Bridgewater State University’s annual Education Career Fair on Wednesday April 9, 2014. This fair allows school hiring personnel to network with top-caliber teacher candidates from Bridgewater State University and other area colleges. With over 45 school districts and 200 students and alumni in attendance, this is a can’t miss event! The Education Career Fair is open to the public and is free to attend. Candidates can register on site the day of the fair. For more information, please visit MyCWS.

 

featured jobs of the week

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

  • Marketing and Communications Internship, Boston, MA (MyCWS ID 11300)
  • Client Research Analyst, New York, NY (MyCWS ID 11318)
  • Product Management Intern, Waltham, MA (MyCWS ID 11322)
  • Campaign Internship, Boston, MA (MyCWS ID 11311)
  • Research Assistant, Boston, MA (MyCWS ID 11306)
  • Operations Full-Time Position, Braintree, MA (MyCWS ID 11325)
  • Reading Counselor Intern, Baltimore, MD (MyCWS ID 11298)
  • Assistant Acquisitions/Development Editor, Norwood, MA (MyCWS ID 11308)

“Weebles Wobble, But They Don’t Fall Down”™: Advice from Suganthi Simon ’97

So. I realize that I might lose some of you with this title alone. Weeble Wobbles™ are a toy from the 1970s. Take a minute and Google it. As a mom of two boys under the age of 6, I can attest to how much this simple toy continues to bring much amusement simply because they eternally rebound. No matter how much they are tortured to lie prostrate—they fight and wriggle and pop right up again. So, now is where I am going to use this very basic toy as an easy metaphor to my life story and career advice.

I entered Wellesley twenty-one years ago with a singular focus to study environmental science. Wellesley was the first step in my journey to some fabulous career that would enable me to save the planet! Even I don’t think I was that naïve, but I certainly had a tremendous feeling that I could contribute in some measure and live up to the motto, “Non Ministrari, Sed Ministrare”. With an undergraduate degree followed by a graduate degree, I entered the professional world and haven’t looked back.

The last few years have been at times overwhelming, trying and joyous—both professionally and personally. I have a mission driven career, a fulfilling marriage, and two very entertaining boys. Now let me to begin to weave my tale.

Recently, I attended a parenting class on raising resilient children. Half way through the class, I realized that I was no longer thinking of how to deal with toddlers, but how to look at my own career. After fourteen years of public service at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, I have been waffling about whether or not I “leaned in” at the appropriate times or “reclined” too much. Here I was sitting in this class and learning about helping children to become more resilient, and a few ideas crystallized in my head and my heart about what I needed to do for myself.

How you adapt to career (and life!) change—whether it is changing majors “late” in the game, looking for a job when it seems like everyone else around you is employed, changing careers, deciding to drop out of the workforce, seeking a job, or taking the job you don’t want—these are some of the most stressful experiences. So how you prepare, weather the storm, and adapt to the change will be pivotal to your happiness.

  1. Build your emotional foundation—when the tension, stress and energy ramp up, think of being the see-saw and find ways to counterbalance the big emotions.
  2. Weebles may Wobble, but they don’t tumble—without drawing out the metaphor beyond what is needed—we need to learn how to fall and pop back up again. Dashed expectations and great upsets in the workplace are sometimes inevitable despite our desires and intentions, but it is not always so simple to upright yourself when you are down. Sometimes you need to not only acknowledge your disappointments, but you may need a few minutes to wallow in it. Go ahead, and take some time. You may need to flail around, but you will need to re-group and get up again. This is where your “Sisterhood of the Traveling Wellesley Network” needs to be an integral part of your life!
  3. Don’t be afraid. As a mom, these words have passed my lips many a time. “Don’t be afraid, I’ll catch you”. Step out on that limb. Apply for the job that isn’t quite what you are looking for, take the courses that are difficult and outside your field, and apply for the job that challenges you to do something completely different. Will someone be there to catch you? I hope each of you has those touchstone individuals in your life who will help you seek a softer landing, illuminate the easier paths, and in times of tumbles, help dust you off.
  4. Make the most of the opportunities you have now. Despite the great debates of 2013—the liberal arts degree is INCREDIBLY valid and vital. Whether you are in art history, sociology, economics, computer science, or biology—I implore you each to invest in those skills that Wellesley excels at honing and polishing. Acclaimed journalist, Thomas Friedman, recently wrote in a New York Times op-ed, “…in an age when innovation is increasingly a group endeavor, it also cares about a lot of soft skills — leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn. This will be true no matter where you go to work.”

I wish you all life adventures with few wobbles and great resilient spirits.

Suganthi Simon is an environmental scientist with the U.S Environmental Protection Agency in Atlanta, GA. She graduated from Wellesley in 1997 with a BA in Environmental Science Degree. She received her Master of Industrial Environmental Management degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in 1999.  

What’s happening with the CWS — week of 4/1

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!

Tuesday, April 1-

  • MBTI Workshop | 4:30-6:15 PM | Clapp LLR - 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? Prior registration is required.
  • Head Start Series – Consulting | 8:00-9:00 PM | PNE 339 - This panel features Ljubica Ristovska ’13 who is currently working in Analysis Group – Boston. In this panel, Ljubica will give you an overview of what economics consulting is like, what types of skill sets are expected in the job, and how you can land yourself in the field. The goal of the panel is to give you insights on the interview process, how you can best prepare for the questions, and the factors that you should consider when deciding whether to start their career in consulting. The emphasis is on passing down honest advice from one Wellesley woman to another. Come to the panel if you want to know more about consulting and how to find a job/internship in consulting! Please RSVP in MyCWS.

Wednesday, April 2-

  • 2015 Albright Institute Application Deadline | NOON | On MyCWS - The application deadline for the 2015 Albright Institute is April 2, 2014 at 12:00 noon. The Institute takes place during Wintersession and is open to Wellesley College juniors and seniors (Classes of 2015 and 2016), with priority given to juniors. Students with an interest in global affairs from ALL majors are eligible and encouraged to apply.
  • How to Find an Internship Workshop | 12:30-1:30 PM | PNE 127 - Interested in finding an internship? Come to this session to learn about more what an internship is, how to get started on finding an internship, factors to consider and CWS resources/programs for internships. Please RSVP on MyCWS.

Friday, April 4-

  • Resume Basics Workshop | 12:30-1:30 PM | PNE 139 - In this workshop we will be covering resume types, components, formats, presentation and resources. Come to this workshop if you are interested in building or improving your resume! Please RSVP on MyCWS.

Sunday, April 6-

  • Life after Wellesley | 4:00-7:00 PM | Science Center - Join the CWS on Sunday, April 6 beginning at 4:00pm in the Science Center to learn how to find an apartment, manage your finances and create a professional wardrobe. More information on the workshops and presenters is available on MyCWS. Don’t miss this chance to learn the skills needed to be a successful graduate and network with alumnae about their experience in life post-Wellesley! Please RSVP on MyCWS.

featured jobs of the week

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

  • Strategic Communications Summer Internship, Westborough, MA (MyCWS ID 11244)
  • Business Analyst, Boston, MA (MyCWS ID 11263)
  • After School Elementary Teachers Assistant (K-5), Boston, MA (MyCWS ID 9051)
  • Assistant/Researcher – Civil Rights, Public Policy, and Journalism, New York, NY (MyCWS ID 11248)
  • Stylist Intern for Fashion-Tech Startup, New York, NY (MyCWS ID 11216)
  • Event Planning & Membership Intern, Boston, MA (MyCWS ID 11230)
  • Neurotrauma Fellowship: Research Assistant, New York, NY (MyCWS ID 11207)
  • Technical Summer Internship, Boston, MA (MyCWS ID 11194)
  • Urban Education Leaders Internship Program Associate, Washington, DC (MyCWS ID 11196)
  • Non-Profit Business Management Internship for NYC Theater/Community Center, New York, NY (MyCWS ID 11200)

Advice from Hilary Branch ’04: Don’t let Wellesley You Limit Future You

Hilary Branch headshotTen years after graduating, my greatest post-Wellesley learning is: I’m not who I thought I was.

During my four years on campus, I was anything but Wendy Wellesley. I didn’t join a dozen clubs and committees. The whole “non ministrari sed ministrare” thing seemed a bit archaic. And unlike my classmates, I was not mapping out my future political career. Comparing myself to my peers, I decided that I was not a joiner, not service-oriented, and definitely not ambitious. And now I am working at a non-profit, climbing the ladder with an eye to further advancement, and serving on a number of boards in my spare time. Throw in my all-women book club and I’m living every Wellesley stereotype on record.

So what happened? I didn’t change: I’m just a polished version of college me. What changed is the context in which I live and work. Wellesley and the real work world have about as much in common as apples and elephants. Principles like hard work and self-reflection that are woven into the day-to-day at Wellesley are rare birds elsewhere. These underpinnings give you a great advantage in the working world, but you need to be aware of them before they can help you.

  1. Assume nothing. For years I assumed that my willingness to take on the tough project and my desire for increased responsibility was taken as read. Everyone wanted that, right? A boss finally explained to me that no, that isn’t an assumption managers make, and that if I’m ready for more I should say so. That goes for everything you take for granted at Wellesley: the people around you are making assumptions based on their own experiences, not yours.
  2. Go ahead and seize control. When I started working, I was hesitant to step up as a project leader because I didn’t have the work experience my colleagues did. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be in charge: what if something went wrong? But after my sense of personal responsibility had me jumping in to rescue several near-disasters, I realized it was easier to volunteer to be in charge at the outset. The truth is most people will be grateful if you step up and offer to manage a leaderless project. And after four years at Wellesley, you have excellent project management skills, trust me.
  3. Don’t compare yourself to your classmates. Just because you haven’t cured cancer, joined the State Department, and adopted triplets doesn’t mean you’re not doing a great job at what you do. Every industry and job advances at a different pace. There will always be someone doing better and always someone doing worse. Be proud of where you are and the work you have done to get there.

Let your Wellesley experiences guide you, but don’t let them define you. I am excellent at my job, which involves budgets and goals in the millions. I also got a C+ in Microeconomics. Those disparate realities can and do co-exist. Don’t let Wellesley You limit future You: you have all the tools to do anything and everything.