Where Are They Now? Audrey Markarian'16SM

April 04, 2016

Audrey Markarian

January 2016 MBA Graduate Audrey Markarian talks about her new role as the Fund Officer for Volunteer Programming and Support at Mount Holyoke College.

After attending Mount Holyoke for your undergraduate education, what drew you to the School of Management’s MBA Program?

After graduating from Mount Holyoke, I worked in a number of fields.  When I found that I had moved up as far as I could where I was currently working, I evaluated what I wanted in the next stage of my life.  I realized that an MBA would give me the tools I needed to advance my career in any field. 

Once I knew what type of program I was looking for, I naturally gravitated towards Simmons because it offered a women-focused program.  When I looked back at how much I benefitted from my Mount Holyoke education, I knew that the Simmons MBA Program would be the exact fit I was looking for.  I approached the program knowing that I wanted to have opportunities to work closely with amazing professors that were invested in their student’s success, take risks and try new things, work independently and in diverse groups, and connect with my colleagues outside of the classroom.  I graduated from Simmons knowing that I had accomplished all of that, and much more.

How did Simmons help prepare you for the role you have now?

During my MBA program at Simmons I was able to take advantage of a number of opportunities that allowed me to express my voice while taking a leadership role. I worked with faculty members on independent projects, including a complete business plan as a part of the entrepreneurship focus and a marketing independent study project that was accepted at a conference.  I also serve as the competition manager with the undergraduate National Student Advertising Competition course. These experiences, combined with the numerous group projects that are essential to every course in the MBA program, allowed me to feel confident in my abilities as a leader in a number of different situations. The SOM faculty went well beyond textbooks and course objectives, to provide mentorship and guidance beyond the classroom. 

I have been in my current role for just over two months now, and I have been able to jump into the role with confidence.  My experience working with students for the NSAC competition and essentially learning about the competition as we led the team was a perfect precursor to one of my first independent tasks-- hiring, training and supervising a group of 15 students for our phonathon program halfway through my first month on the job. 

Working closely with Dr. Gutlove as a graduate assistant gave me an opportunity to research important topics on campus and in the greater world while also connecting with alumni and helping students plan for successful career negotiations.  This experience helped prepare me for my current role connecting and supporting numerous alumnae and serving as a bridge between Mount Holyoke students and alumni.

Perhaps most importantly, the Simmons MBA’s focus on managing change has been essential in my new position.  During the two months I have been in my position the campus community has faced numerous changes.  Our president announced that she will be leaving at the end of the year, the campus is preparing to move to centralized dining, the advancement office has a new vice president and we are getting ready to launch a new campaign.  Simmons has prepared me to not only react to change, but analyze and prepare for change. 

After attending Simmons, what was the job search like for you?

As I approached my final semester, I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to take after graduation.  I was lucky that in the same week two job opportunities fell into my lap in early October.  I was presented with a position working with a consulting firm, recommended by a Simmons professor, and a position working at Mount Holyoke, recommended by a Simmons MBA Alum. I was surprised, (and delighted), to find that there were remarkable similarities between the two positions.  Both involved working with organizations to recognize and promote the accomplishments of women, something that has shaped my life thus far.  In the end, the ability to become involved with my alma mater and simultaneously connect with current students and alumni was the perfect next step after graduation.

What is a typical day like in your role at Mount Holyoke?

In my role at Mount Holyoke I have the pleasure of working with a variety of Mount Holyoke constituents.  I oversee our phonathon program, where I have been able to train, hire and supervise an amazing group of students. I also get to continuously review and strategize how we connect with our alumnae via our phonathon program   

I also oversee our volunteer communications and trainings, which allows me to directly connect with some of the most passionate Mount Holyoke alumnae.  I get to plan informational dinners and our volunteer conference to maintain the connection between volunteers and life on campus.  I act as a liaison between the advancement office and a number of alumnae classes, which allows me to connect closely with those classes to learn about their individual challenges, preferences and goals.

I also am lucky that I get to spend a good portion of my day collaborating with other staff members to determine how we can best support the college. 

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am proud that throughout my career I have been able to become deeply ingrained in the community around me.  Being back at Mount Holyoke, after graduating from Simmons, I feel motivated to support the shared mission of supporting women through education. I am so glad to be working in a position that directly connects with so many people who share that common goal.  Every day I get to hear about students who are inspired by alumnae, and alumni who are inspired by students. 

What advice would you give to the current Simmons graduate students?

I would advise that current students take advantage of every opportunity that they can.  While the information I learned in the classroom was extremely valuable, it was the activities outside of the classroom that really enriched my experience.  Attending career panels, volunteering at the Simmons Leadership Conference, being a part of Net Impact, working with professors outside of the classroom, these were the experiences that defined my Simmons education.  My Simmons MBA is so much more than just a degree, it is a link to an inspirational network of students, professors and alumnae who are doing amazing things in the world.