Campus & Community

Life After Simmons: 5 Key Takeaways from the Career Education Center's Alumnae/i Panel

The webinar "Life After Simmons" discussed the challenges of job searching in the midst of a recession.

Moderated by Assistant Provost & Director of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships Dr. Nakeisha Cody, the panelists included:

  • Nikki Brown '10, BA communications, Senior Beauty Editor/Stylecaster for SHE Media/Penske Media
  • Rebecca Crosswaith '10, BA international relations, Immigration Constituent Liaison for the US Senate, Office of Senator Richard Blumenthal
  • Mary Kate Quigley '13, BS mathematics, Senior Data Visualization Analytics Consultant for Cleartelligence, Inc.

Here are our five key takeaways from their discussion!

1. Make your internship work for you

Nikki: I sort of leveraged my internship into a job position by the time I graduated... I saw an opportunity there because they didn't have anyone doing their marketing, PR, or just general communications... So, I brought that up to my supervisor and he gave me a shot to try the job out and see how it went.

Mary Kate: I got this crazy internship that went horribly awry, and through that experience, which was very negative, I was actually able to learn about another internship opportunity at EMC. That was my first big opportunity and then I ended up getting hired there out of school... Once you get that one internship and you meet people and you get some basic skills, it will lead to other internship opportunities which could lead to full-time employment.

2. Career paths aren't linear

Rebecca: I studied international relations. After I worked in Washington, D.C. for AmeriCorps, I found a job abroad... I ended up teaching English abroad in Spain... from there I worked at a summer camp Seeds of Peace, where it brings kids from different conflict regions to the United States... After Seeds of Peace, as the camp only lasts in the summer, I ended up working at Best Buy for a few years because of the recession...

I think a big point is also being creative with how your market yourself when you're going to job interviews. So I was able to take selling computers and spin it. I got a job at Travelers Insurance afterward and was able to incorporate all the skills I was able to learn at Best Buy into a more stable career. A few years later, I was able to catch the eye of Senator Blumenthal's office, work in immigration, and finally get my way to the background that I was looking for. So it takes some creativity and massaging of your resume... and making choices specific for what you think would make you happy and what you're interested in.

Mary Kate: I also took opportunities working at a summer camp tutoring children with dyslexia, which is something that was not even remotely related to what I thought I wanted to do... I literally took it because I needed to make money and it ended up being like one of the best ways to learn how to communicate better in my jobs after college.

3. Use the Career Education Center's resources

Rebecca: I used the Career Education Center... Starting out in your career, you don't know where to start. And so I started there and was able to kind of navigate into the world of international relations and seeing job opportunities there, and more volunteer positions. I was actually able to find [my position] through the website and general searching.

4. Be prepared and be consistent

Nikki: If you are prepared and you have the skill and your resume is on point, those opportunities will eventually find you... I work in beauty, primarily, and I've wanted to expand and try something different. I wanted to get more into content marketing because that's more of what I studied in school and what I'm interested in. So I redid my portfolio site, I redid my LinkedIn my resume, and I just put myself out there, started applying for content marketing jobs, started interviewing, meeting with people and using my connections.

So there's no magic sauce. For me personally, it's just a matter of being prepared and putting yourself out there and being consistent, whether it's 2010 or 2020.

5. Don't underestimate the power of networking

Rebecca: Networking, at least in the international relations and the political science department, was huge. We were always getting pushed out there and it was so scary. But because I did it so much at Simmons, it really helped me to get more comfortable with networking and that's how I got into my current role.

I happened to be at an event and talking to someone about the international relations roles that I've had in the past, and they happened to have an immigration position, opening up. So it was entirely based on a conversation and having that courage to put myself out there, even though I had no idea that the conversation would lead to that.

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