Get the Offer: Navigating an Uncertain Job Market like a Boss with Julian Parra

Career help is waiting for you.

Despite being so young, Julian Parra has a life’s worth of experience learning about how to discover your passion, navigate the job market, and land your dream job. 

Screen Shot 2021-04-30 at 8.44.58 AMBorn and raised in Hawthorne, New Jersey, Julian attended Babson College in 2016, where he quickly became interested in career development, when he became a career ambassador for the college’s Center for Career Development (CCD). As a career ambassador, Julian met with hundreds of undergraduate students a semester to help them with anything and everything career related. Julian’s experience working at CCD helped to shape his own career path as well, as he learned an incredible amount from mentoring others as well as interacting with the career advisors within the office. 

Julian’s first internship was with Ernst and Young, where he interned within the tax and audit department. Through this experience, Julian learned that he was more interested in finance than accounting, yet he used this newfound knowledge to pivot, taking more finance classes the semester after. In doing so, however, Julian found that he compared himself to the other finance students in his classes, who were more passionate than he was. That same semester, Julian was also living in Babson’s computer science and coding community, which got him interested in working within business and tech. 

The next summer, Julian had the opportunity to be a part of Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, a program that helps minorities connect with fortune 500 companies. Through this program, Julian was able to connect with IBM and got offered an internship working for their enterprise performance management team. After his internship, Julian was offered a full time position and gladly accepted. 

Screen Shot 2021-04-30 at 9.06.55 AMDuring quarantine last year, Julian found himself with a bit of free time between graduation and starting his full-time job. This time got him to reflect on the skills and knowledge that he learned both at CCD and through his job search. During quarantine is also when the popular social media and content creation app TikTok began to flourish. Julian has always been interested in content creation, having started a YouTube channel and Instagram account in which he provided professional advice and motivational content before. What captured Julian’s attention about the algorithm being used by TikTok is that anyone can have a piece of content go viral as long as they optimize watch time and shares, among many other tactics. Soon, Julian’s TikTok account @youknowitjulian, offering professional advice to young adults, was formed within a perfect storm. 

Julian quickly started noticing his videos and TikTok content going viral, confirming his hypothesis that there was a real need for an end-to-end resource for navigating the job market that was digestible and provided advice on a high level. Julian recently formalized this content into a course that takes individuals through every phase of the job search process, from realizing their passion to salary negotiation. Julian took inspiration from his own experiences as well as his TikTok and Instagram audiences when developing the program. 

Julian notes that young professionals, current college students, or even those who recently graduated and are interested in landing their first job or internship are perfect candidates for the course. Julian also sees those who are feeling lost, especially in terms of how to navigate the uncertain job market, or those whose employment status has been affected by COVID-19, really benefiting from his program. 

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When making this course, Julian emphasized his desire to be value-first in the course, highlighting only the useful facts, as well as making the content interactive. For example, Julian hosts a resume walkthrough, getting specific with what should go in each section and how this information should be formatted to maximize efficiency and readability. Julian does the same with both cover letters and your LinkedIn profile. Additionally, taking a popular segment from his TikTok channel, Julian has an interview role playing segment where students can get practice answering tough job interview questions. 

In paying for the course, job seekers also gain access to resume, cover letter, and email response templates- really everything you need to network and nail an interview. Through the program, members even get access to an exclusive professional community, which Julian is also an active participant of, to debrief any content from the course or answer any questions members might have. 

When asked about what his favorite aspects of the program are, Julian responded that it was hard to pick just one, but, if he had to, it would be the personal branding section. Julian views personal branding as being an important step to establishing your own personal identity that sets you apart from others in the job market. It is also an opportunity to be creative.

“You just need one person to look at your content to give you the opportunity of a lifetime,” says Julian. 

When asked why should someone take this course and what Julian hopes his students will walk away with? Julian noted that he hopes his program will help job seekers view the employment process as not being as overwhelming and as intimidating as it often does. Julian hopes that those who take his course are able to navigate the market with ease and have an open space to have their questions answered. The overarching goals is to inspire confidence and better clarity on where seekers see their career trajectory going.

Whether it be related to their career, goals, or life aspirations, the world is any job seeker’s oyster and Julian’s program is the sand that generates the pearl!


Where to Find Julian:

Career Course (Enroll today!)

Website

Instagram


 

Sean Holland on Working at Deloitte in Government and Public Sector Consulting

If you give a student an avocado, there’s no telling what they will do with it!

Sean Holland is someone with a great passion for public service, which began at a very young age. Since second grade, Sean believed that he would go to law school and become a lawyer or diplomat. This interest manifested itself in participating in Model United Nations when Sean was in high school and attending George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs in 2016, majoring in Political Science. After Freshman year, however, Sean discovered his love for economics and statistics and their application to real world problems. 

Returning from his study abroad in Vienna his Junior year, Sean decided to apply for management consulting internships, as he knew many friends who were interested in the same field and felt that this unique opportunity could challenge and excite him. Sean did alright during the behavioral interview portion of his management consulting interviews, but fell short during the case interview process and did not receive an offer that summer. Going into Junior year with no summer internship, Sean knew that he would have to be productive somehow and took the summer to explore his interests and write about them. Sean learned how to code in R and wrote articles for Medium focused on statistics and analytics. Sean further differentiated himself by adding a comical undertone within his writings. Over the summer, Sean even had one of his articles on forecasting avocado prices published on Medium’s Towards Data Science site, which gained an incredible readership.

Armed with a summer of self-study and a portfolio of impressive research, Sean went through the Fall recruiting process his Senior year, and landed a Business Analyst position at Deloitte Consulting, specializing in government and public sector work. Sean credits landing the job to owning some of the best advice he received from his career counselor. Sean’s counselor told him to never underplay his achievements and to always convey his experiences in a positive light. To go into his interviews not with the perspective of having a summer with no internship, but a summer filled with enriched learning. 

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Sean adeptly describes a consultant’s role as providing subject matter expertise and a specific know-how to provide solutions to problems. Government consulting, specifically, aims to help a government agency create a vision for where they want their agency to be and works to create a roadmap for how the agency can achieve this. Although government agencies might have an in-house IT shop or finance department, these agencies often don’t have specific strategic departments that have a broad overview of all departments. As a consultant coming in, they would have the comparative advantage of working across multiple divisions and having a particular expertise that is missing. Government engagements also tend to be longer than commercial ones — often lasting several years — as consultants help along the journey from formulating strategies to advising on implementation. 

Sean’s current project involves transforming budget management processes and best practices in a new defense agency. His day-to-day, like every consultant, varies greatly. On any particular Monday morning, Sean sits in on a “Stand Up” call with task leads to go over project details and developments. Afterward, he might meet with his team’s client to review some data that he has analyzed in a deck, take notes during a team brief, or help his team and project leads keep track of a lot of moving pieces related to the project. Sean would describe his work as a balance between both project management and strategy work for his team. As an analyst, his role is to mainly observe and support the vision Deloitte aims to create. Sean makes a point of mentioning that, although consulting can be high stress, he feels reassured that his work doesn’t have to be perfect the first time, but he has to show signs of improvement in what he does- advice every perfectionist should take to heart. 

Sean notes that the most compelling part of his work is getting to interact with people who are on top of their game in terms of expertise. He goes further by mentioning that consulting attracts people who are used to working in teams and comfortable with hard work- those who are smart and comfortable working in teams naturally gravitating to the work. At Deloitte, Sean has met consultants who come from every background, from MBA grads to mathematicians to even former WNBA players.

In relation to challenges, Sean admits that consulting in the virtual world can be difficult in terms of feeling like you belong with a team you have never met before. Additionally, the learning curve can be pretty steep in terms of creating decks or analyzing data with expert precision. It is easy to get overwhelmed, yet the remedy for this is to realize that everyone has been in the same position at some point and that it is expected that you will need some time to learn; the benefits of hiring someone young is in being able to shape that person’s development to fill a special skill. 

Looking towards the future, Sean is excited by the prospect of employing rigorous statistical methods to solve policy questions and aid in better decision-making within his work. Sean believes that work similar to this is the next frontier for consulting, where data is the most critical driver in supporting decision making. 

For Sean, it seems that personal future possibilities are endless, as he continues to become persuaded by a variety of opportunities. Looking into the distance, Sean can see his life going in many different directions including attending law school and fulfilling his childhood dream, getting his MBA and working at Google, or maybe even staying at Deloitte forever!

“There are so many experiences to be had and so many opportunities out there. It’s hard to say what the future really holds.” 

 

Julia Dean and Kristin Watson on the GTB Mentorship Program and the Power of Mentorship

Why mentorship matters.

Kristin Watson and Julia Dean had only been friends a short while before teaming up last summer to change the lives of students and recent graduates during the peak of the COVID pandemic.

After graduating in December of 2019 with a degree in Graphic Communications from Clemson University, Kristin found herself navigating the challenging job search process in early 2020. The resource that Kristin found extremely beneficial at the time was a strong mentor, pushing and leading her through the process. It was this mentor who ultimately helped her land a job at the Trade Desk. Having a mentor namely helped Kristin learn the ins and outs of the industry which ultimately shifted her focus from wanting to work in the agency side of advertising to ad tech. 

On the other hand, Julia was locked-in with a position at Deloitte Consulting as a Human Capital Analyst, one she’d secured before graduating from Babson College in 2019. Still, Julia felt compelled to help those struggling with employment during COVID after seeing so many students and young adults on LinkedIn who had lost their jobs, internships, or were simply looking for work. 

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The Adobe conference where Julia and Kristin first met

Kristin and Julia met at an Adobe conference in 2018 and, being adamant about maintaining their network, stayed in touch. during quarantine, the two put their heads and past/ professional experiences together to come up with an idea: connecting mentors and mentees to ease current job woes.  Given that her mentor was her main cheerleader, Kristin remembered how integral a mentor was to her job search process. Similarly, Julia recalled her providing mentorship as a resource for others, whether it was advising them on applying for the Fulbright Program, breaking into consulting or general career advice. It was a match made in heaven. 

Their plan was to match students with mentors who were working in their field of interest so they could provide insights, advice, case prep, and even review resumes. The two began by informally naming the program “Let’s Get This Bread” and blasting out an interest form on LinkedIn. The name was splashy, the logo engaging, and the overall messaging resonated with the targeted age group, who were looking for a genuine and unintimidating approach to career help. What happened next wasn’t what either of them were expecting. The two estimated they might garner the interest of less than 30 young professionals , yet ended up engaging over 70 mentees (including myself!) and a little over 50 mentors.

Let’s Get This Bread Launch Video

After manually pairing the mentors and mentees, Kristin and Julia let all the participants structure their mentorship in the way that they wanted, enabling the pairings to choose the pace and frequency of meetings that were best for them. Six weeks later, the two sent an email to participants asking how the program went so they could evaluate how to define success for the program in the future. 

The founders then launched a second version of their program with a new cohort of mentors and mentees after collecting feedback from the first group of participants. Through focus groups and feedback forms, Kristin and Julia realized they had a small but mighty group of members who really valued the platform the two were able to build for them. Asking for a mentor is incredibly daunting and it is difficult to find someone willing and able to speak with you on a consistent basis. This form of structured peer mentoring was more approachable to those who needed help and encouragement during the quarantine. 

So, what ultimately makes a good mentee? Honesty, both founders said:

“You need to be honest about what you need help with; that’s how you will best use your time with your mentor.”

And for a mentor? It would have to be honesty and approachability. “There is nothing harder than having a mentor relationship that doesn’t feel like a safe place to be raw and candid,” says Kristin. 

Kristin and Julia cite the time they started the program as being pivotal to the success of the rebranded “GTB Mentorship Program”. “A lot of people wanted to help out and a lot needed that help,” mentions Julia, who sees entrepreneurship as being instrumental to solving community-focused needs. The founders also note that the program was incredibly helpful to participants because mentors were only 1 to 3 years older than those they were mentoring, mimicking a peer-on-peer help model. 

Julia and Kristin mentioned many positive stories that resulted from the program and I’d like to cite mine as being one of them! When I came across the program and its catchy title, I knew I had to be a part of something that was uplifting, encouraging, and helpful during the challenging time I was going through. Having lost multiple job opportunities due to the COVID pandemic, I was desperately seeking help to break into the consulting industry. I felt helpless and confused and thought it couldn’t hurt to seek some outside guidance. My mentor Sean turned out to be one of the most instrumental people throughout my job search process, case prepping with me, editing my resume, providing continual guidance, and inspiring me to create this very blog – thanks Kristin and Julia! 

When I asked them why they thought they were the best people to run the GTB Mentorship Program, Kristin and Julia jointly replied that they didn’t consider themselves to be the right people to start the program. They explained it was their passion and commitment to following through on their idea that made them become the right people. 

Although GTB shut down after its second cohort, I feel confident that there will be so many more amazing programs and businesses created by these intelligent women. What does that mean for the rest of us? If the future is anything like Kristin and Julia’s entrepreneurial past, help is on the way!

Meredith King on Advice for College Students

On transitioning from being home schooled to attending Amherst University and more.

Are you in college? Going to college? Taking a gap year? Whatever it may be, you can never receive too much advice on how to maximize your time in college! When thinking about the college experience, I knew that I had to recruit my good friend Meredith King to give her take on all things higher education: what classes to take, picking a major, taking a gap year, being a student athlete- this lady does it all! College is all about exploring, trying new things, and embarking on new adventures. Arming you with all the info you need to make your journey a successful one, here is Meredith!

Meredith! Tell us a little bit about you! 

Screen Shot 2020-11-25 at 6.36.01 PMHi everyone! I’m a senior at Amherst College, double majoring in Music and French as well as doing prerequisites to go into accelerated nursing programs post-grad. I’m currently writing a historical musicology thesis looking at the transformation of French prostitute novels into operatic forms. I’m on the Amherst swim team, but I also spend a lot of time singing both in a Christian acapella group called Terras Irradient and in the Amherst College Chorus Society. One of my favorite things to do is spend whole afternoons or evenings sitting in the dining hall with friends from the Amherst Christian Fellowship playing word games or talking about life. 

What should students consider when thinking about taking a gap year?


I think it’s only worth taking a gap year if you have a concrete reason or goal for the year. A gap year can be a chance to do something exciting and different that otherwise you wouldn’t have the time to pursue,  but unless you have a somewhat solid plan, it’s easy to waste a gap year and feel like you wasted time. 

Being someone who is interested in so many different things, how did you go about choosing a major?

Terras Irradient a capella Freshman Showcase 2018 P.C. Faith Wen

I had an unusual path to choosing my major. I knew that I wanted to be a French major coming into college, I studied the language throughout high school and I wanted to continue through college. Amherst doesn’t have minors, so the languages often have few course requirements for their majors. I expected to have a double major in a STEM field since I’m pursuing a pre-nursing track, but I took a music theory class the second half of my freshman year, since I knew I was interested in music. I realized not only that I loved music but also that I loved having a balanced course schedule: one french class, one music class, and two nursing pre-req classes (STEM courses generally). It allowed me to really fully use my brain: when I couldn’t think in French any more I could turn to more concrete STEM coursework, and when I needed something more creative I could turn to music courses. Obviously my path is a slightly unique one: I’ve known what I want to do for a career (Nurse Practitioner), and so I had the freedom to do whatever I wished with my non nursing courses, which is definitely a fortunate position to be in. I’m grateful that I’ve gotten to learn how to think in so many different ways, and I think that’s something you can pursue no matter what career path you’re taking. 

What are things students should consider before deciding to join a college sports team?

I think a common misconception is that if you join a college sports team your academics will suffer. While you definitely will be committing a significant portion of time to your sport, you’ll be forced to manage your time well, and you’ll be more efficient in your academic work. Once you join a sports team (or a club with high time commitments), it can be easy to make that your entire social life. I definitely encourage branching out and finding friends with varied interests and backgrounds from you — you’ll learn a lot about yourself and about others. 

How do you go about deciding what classes to take?

For me, I really like to have a balance between STEM and non-STEM classes, that way if I’m sick of doing an online problem set I can switch and do some reading for a humanities class. Having all STEM or all reading can definitely be exhausting on the brain and make for a big slog, whereas having different types of work allows you to take a “break” from one type of work by doing work for a different class. For me, my majors and my nursing-prerequisites took up just about all of my classes, but I made sure to arrange them as evenly split across the semesters to keep that balance, but I also made sure that within the confines of what classes I needed to take, I took every chance to take classes in subjects that actually interested me. There are many French and Music classes I could take each semester, so I got to choose unique ones that actively interested me. One semester I decided that there were two music classes that I absolutely wanted to take, and so I only took one pre-req that semester to allow myself the chance to pursue courses I loved. 

How do you balance your time in college between homework, studying, teams, organizations, class, and fun?

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Honestly, the best thing I’ve done for time management in college is start each week with my Monday and Tuesday assignments done, and spend the week getting work done as soon as possible after it’s assigned.  This means that no matter how crazy my days end up, if things pop up unexpectedly, I have a buffer and am never cramming to get my work done in the last seconds before a due-date. Having a buffer also means that you can go get boba with your friends on a whim, and you don’t have to decline because you’ve procrastinated your work to the last second. And sleep!!!! The more rested you are, the more focused you’ll be, and the quicker you’ll get your work done. 

What is some general advice you would give to previously homeschooled students in terms of entering college and the formal in-person classroom?

I was fortunate in that I had taken synchronous online classes with real (albeit virtual) professors and classmates, so I remarkably didn’t find the transition too shocking. I do think that the most helpful advice I have for transitioning to college (for “normal” schooled people as well) is attending office hours. Having a personal relationship with your professor, one that you start at the beginning of the semester, will only help you academically. Especially during the transition to college, it can be hard to tell what a professor is expecting for an assignment, or what they’re expecting you to know or not know for a test. Spend time in their office, ask casual questions, don’t be afraid to look silly, it will show them that you care, and it will help you learn the material the way they want you to. 

What is the best class that you have taken in college and why?

The class visiting Vienna (P.C. Faith WEN)

My absolute favorite class that I took was a music seminar titled “Vienna.” We were a class of 12: half Music majors and half German majors. We spent the first half of the semester studying various things about Vienna as a city and music in Vienna, and over spring break we took an 8 day trip to Vienna as a whole class (including our two professors!) It was a very special experience to get to study something in the classroom, and then get to really experience it, and feel the weight and valuable nature of the knowledge we acquired. And of course it was an incredible opportunity to really bond with those classmates, most of whom I barely knew before the trip. It was a very diverse group of students who I probably wouldn’t have been close with otherwise, so I’m very grateful for that experience. The second half of the semester revolved around us presenting research projects, and it was my first time writing a 20 page research paper, which was a huge help for me when deciding to write an honors thesis. 

What did you wish you knew before entering college and what advice would you give to a student entering college very soon?

I think that I was very fortunate to have my gap year: it allowed me to come into college with a pretty clear sense of what I valued and who I was, and the ways that I wanted to grow. While I met a lot of people, and I’ve continued to meet interesting people throughout college, I was fortunate to find friends my freshman year that I am still very close to, in part because I think I was able to shrug off the pressure of trying to “fit in” or needing to get to know everyone just to ensure that I’d have some friends. Of course, I was also very lucky to happen across those people my first few days, and while we clicked quickly it was a couple months before we were what I would call “close friends.” So I suppose my advice is: don’t stress about making friends, don’t just hang with a group out of fear, if you talk to someone and genuinely like them, make an effort to connect with them more deeply. And don’t stress if you don’t have close friends quickly — deep friendships take effort and come with time. 

Anything else you might want to add?

Everyone should take Intro to Psychology and Developmental Psychology! Intro Psych is so helpful and important for better understanding how people think and work, and watching my baby nephew become an almost two-year-old I’m so grateful for my Dev Psych knowledge. 

Upasana Roy on Life Advice for Recent College Graduates

Graduated? Yeah… me too.

Because I have an older brother I always benefitted from having friends who are older than me. Having these friends, I have had the opportunity to pick their brains about everything- what classes to take, how to get an internship, friend advice- you name it! My friend Upasana Roy is one of those friends who I can always count on for advice. She is open, honest, and always willing to provide a different perspective. When I went through my job search, Upasana was there to motivate and support me. Having been a college graduate for some time now, I knew that I had to get her take on the highs, the lows, and everything in between when it comes to coping with life after college. For me and many others, life after Babson has been challenging at times but also filled with hope, excitement, and adventure. For Upasana, a bit of the same. 

The biggest difference between going to college and working post-graduation for Upasana has been how you approach every day. In college, you study for tests and exams, hoping to ace your courses. If you don’t, you just try harder next time. You’re being tested on your competence and your discipline, as well as your willingness to be a team player and learn. After college, every day at work and in life can feel like a test and you really have to strive to do your best because your efforts are reflected in tangible results. Suddenly you’re faced with “adulting”, a term that’s said in humor, but is in fact so real! You’re paying bills, trying to understand your 401K and Roth IRA and navigate finding your own place, figuring out plans moving forward.

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Upasana also notes that you have to consider aspects of your life that you haven’t necessarily had to concern yourself with before, like managing your finances and planning your social calendar. Upasana’s advice for you is to invest a little bit of money with each paycheck and recommends looking into Robinhood, an investment app that takes $0 in trade fees, and Public, another platform for beginner investors. In terms of your social life, after college, a big part of acclimating to a lesser degree of socialization is realizing that loneliness is a bigger part of life after college than anyone recognizes. It’s easy to take for granted how much of a bustling social life you had as a college student. It is important to foster an uber supportive set of friends to hold you up in hard times and laugh during the good times! Postgrad depression is a real problem and it is important to make a point of socializing. Be open and honest about your feelings- you are switching lives practically after all. Upasana also uses Bumble BFF, where she says you can meet some really cool people and have good conversations as well as networking events and gatherings with people that have similar interests, such as plant societies, book clubs, dance classes, or gyms! It’s important to stay friends with people and keep in touch, even if they are in different parts across the globe. Make it a point to schedule some time together. Distance shouldn’t mean anything if your friendships are real. Virtual friendships are something to be proud of!

Imposter syndrome is another aspect of post-grad life that can be unexpected for many. Women are especially known for underplaying and doubting their achievements in a workplace setting- yes, this has actually been scientifically proven. Upasana notes that college feels more like a meritocracy, where you achieve good grades when you work hard and perform well. However, in a workplace, you might be at the table with big decision-makers and leaders, but feel underqualified or underskilled in some way. Regardless, they genuinely want to know what you have to say and you bring a perspective that is unique and fresh to how things are going to work. Speak up, Upasana says, you got hired for a reason. 

But, how do you “let go” of the past, when it can be really difficult, especially for those who felt like their best self in college? *major feels*

Upasana mentions that she struggled with this a great deal. She had it ingrained in her brain that college was the best 4 years of her life, a thought process that wasn’t doing her any favors! Upasana’s best friend Divya, once said to her that “that’s no way to think! You should always think that the best years of your life are yet to come! You need to move forward and move on!” Upasana needed that snap back to reality and soon was able to let go of the negativity and perpetual feeling of “loss” that came with leaving that life behind. 

“You haven’t changed, you at your very core are the same. You are the same person, but you might be just a bit older or in a different location” Upasana wisely states. 

The trouble with graduating is that stages of your life are no longer prescribed. Next year you will not become a Senior, now you have to write your own story, while also remembering that your plans won’t always work out and things will change. It’s about changing your level of expectation to solve this problem, Upasana mentions. Always have a plan B. When Upasana lost her dad 1 year out of college, she felt really lost. One of her best friends and confidants was gone and she had a continual “what do I do now?” feeling. No matter how hard things get, Upasana learned that you will survive and having people around you to support and lift you up is extremely important! It can be family, friends, anyone you trust, have a strong support system, and close the loop by being kind to others in return. 

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feat. Upansana and I (center)

Now that we have covered the challenges, let’s talk about the joys of post-grad life!

Upasana’s favorite aspects of young adulthood include the ability to control her own finances and saving money on travel and fun purchases. She also has learned to enjoy the little things more, like having dinner out with her mom or having a long phone conversation with her grandma. Upasana says that she lives slower and lighter now than ever before. Upasana has a greater sense that she is able to plan for things to come and that the world is really her oyster. She also gets a lot of enjoyment in seeing her friends transforming and evolving alongside her. 

Looking towards the future, Upasana is most excited about the uncertainty of life! She is eager to go to grad school, see where her romantic and friend relationships lead her and is motivated to get more healthy this year. More than that, however, Upasana is taking more time to reflect on what she wants for her life and the impact that she wants to leave on the world. 

“We live in such interesting times and I feel so positive about our generation,” she mentions. As long as Upasana is leading the way, I feel pretty positive about us too.

Glynis Gilio on becoming a Constitutional Lawyer

Read all about a fierce woman ready to take on the Supreme Court!

When I first met Glynis Gilio during a two month study abroad in London, England, I knew there was something so special about her. She is incredibly driven, intelligent, and always bursting with energy and positivity- all qualities that I know will serve here well as a future Constitutional lawyer. To take you through her journey to becoming a lawyer, here is Glynis herself!


Screen Shot 2021-02-15 at 4.02.45 PMGlynis! Tell the blog community a little bit about yourself!

I’m currently in my final year of law school at Michigan State University College of Law. My legal studies specialize in constitutional litigation, specifically First Amendment free speech and political speech issues. In addition to my classes, I am the Vice President of our student government, the Student Bar Association, a competitive member of the Trademark Moot Court team, a student-member of MSU Law’s Geoffrey Fieger Trial Practice Institute, and a performing member of MSU Law’s Musical Theatre Law Revue. In my free time, I love to paint, travel, spend time with my five-year-old shih tzu-pekingese mix Pepper, sing, dance, act, and obsess over all things Real Housewives. 

When did you first become interested in law and what interests you most about becoming a lawyer?

Screen Shot 2021-01-14 at 5.50.33 PMMy path to the legal profession is very atypical. Prior to attending law school, I was a professional actress for almost a decade. I had the opportunity to travel all over the country for various acting engagements on film and onstage. I loved my work, but I was advised by many actors, who knew that I was an impressionable young girl, that being a full-time actor is hard work. It often results in long periods of unemployment, struggles to pay the bills. I knew of a very successful actress in Chicago who lived in a one-bedroom apartment with her fiancé and two other couples. Many of my mentors impressed upon me that if being an actress was the only thing that I knew I wanted to do, or could do, then I should pursue that. But if I knew that I could use my passions or talents elsewhere, I should pursue other avenues.

I began to examine what I loved doing the most. I loved reading, writing, working collaboratively, and telling great stories. A family friend suggested law school and expressed his belief that I would be a great lawyer. I initially laughed at the thought. I didn’t feel as though I was smart enough to take the LSAT, let alone get into a law school or pass the bar. But I felt a call in my heart to pursue this avenue, and I’m glad I followed that call. 

Why did you choose to specialize in constitutional law and what do you believe is the most important deciding factor in choosing a legal specialization?

I’ve studied constitutional theory and history for the vast majority of my life. The Constitution was the centerpiece of my undergraduate studies. I’ve always been taught to have a great amount of respect for the Constitution and its founding. Constitutional questions have always fascinated me the most. Constitutional legal questions also often have the greatest consequences hanging in the balance. Equal protection and substantive due process questions can have life changing effects upon so many people’s lives. Constitutional law is influential, consequential, and often very provocative. Who wouldn’t want to work in that space? 

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I believe, and perhaps this is because of my music and theatre background, that there is a rhythm to every area of the law. A rhythm to family law, a rhythm to environmental law, a rhythm to the IRS tax code, etc. You have to find which rhythm you can follow along with. Very often, it may not be just one area of the law. For instance, although I have a strong passion for constitutional law, I also love intellectual property law. I think it is also helpful to get practice experience in whatever specialization you’re interested in. I’ve been fortunate to work at various public interest law firms, so I have the practical experience in constitutional litigation to know that this is what I want to do. 

Have your internship experiences helped shape your perspective and interest in law and, if so, how?

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Law school is all about the theoretical, and internship experiences are about the practical. Internship experiences give you insight into the nuances of the practice of law that you would never receive in law school classes. Oftentimes I feel that working with attorneys can either turn people off to the practice of law or reaffirm their desire to be a part of that community. For me, it has certainly done that latter. During my time at Freedom Foundation, for example, I have had the opportunity to write an amicus brief for the Supreme Court. The fact that I get to know that the Supreme Court Justices are going to read my work. That is such an exciting prospect that I can’t help but feel motivated to continue working to refine my skills. The opportunities, and new perspectives, that internship experiences can provide are invaluable, and they have certainly helped me to get closer to becoming the attorney that I want to be. 

What is the most valuable professional advice someone has given to you and what is a piece of advice you would give to someone interested in studying law?

Screen Shot 2021-01-14 at 5.50.48 PMI think the most valuable professional advice that I’ve been given is to be unapologetic in the pursuit of your career goals. Oftentimes, people who are just starting out can feel like it’s annoying or bothersome to send follow up emails or cold emails about job opportunities. I was encouraged to disregard those hesitations because the reward is often so much greater than the potential fear that someone reading an email may feel bothered or annoyed. This has been the best advice I could have received because I have reaped nothing but beneficial results from being bold. I secured my first internship during law school from a cold email to a fellow college alumni. I’ve even had prospective employers thank me for follow-up emails because my initial email got buried in their inbox. This approach really puts the “be fearless in the pursuit of your dreams” mentality into action.

My advice to anyone interested in studying law is do not go to law school unless you know that you want to be an attorney. I say many of my friends and classmates struggle during their first year of law school because they decided to go to law school in the hopes of becoming something other than an attorney. Many people decide to go to law school because they couldn’t think of anything else that they wanted to do after working for a few years. Law school rigorously trains you to become a lawyer. If you feel called to become a politician, teacher, cop, or anything else, law school is probably not the right path for you. This should come as no surprise, but law school is a very stressful experience. What motivated me to push through the stress is because I knew that at the end of all of it, and after hopefully passing the bar exam, I would become a lawyer. If you don’t want to be a lawyer, the stress will be doubled or tripled because you will be constantly questioning why you subjected yourself to that experience. So my advice is to think long and hard about whether you want to become a lawyer before applying to law school. 

When you become a practicing constitutional lawyer, what is one thing you are looking forward to?

I am looking forward to interacting with my clients. That is an experience that you rarely ever get during your law school experience. Especially in the constitutional law arena, the majority of the time clients have emotionally compelling stories. As a people-person I’m really looking forward to having one-on-one time with my client. Nobody ever wants to have to call their lawyer. Being a lawyer is about knowing how to help people during the worst situations in their lives. There has to be a level of sensitivity there. That is why it is so important to form strong, dependable relationships with your clients so that they know they can count on you to get them through their personally challenging time. 

What impact do you hope to make in the legal profession?

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One day I hope to give an oral argument at the podium of the Supreme Court. I want my career to support the efforts to protect individual liberties against government infringement, support a limited, transparent government, and safeguard the cherished tradition in our country of preserving liberty and justice for all. There are ever-growing threats to citizens’ individual liberties and so many legal questions that remain unsolved. These are the very questions that I want my work to address. 

What about the future excites you as a law student and future lawyer?

The practice of law changes so quickly. Over the past year, there have been so many changes from remote working to virtually giving oral arguments. This is something that the legal profession has had to rapidly acclimate to. The traditional brick-and-mortar law firms may be obsolete in the next decade. There are so many new possibilities in terms of where the practice of law could go, and I’m excited to ride that wave.

 

Kaity Goodwin on Virtual Event Success

Everything you need to know to run a flawless virtual event, as told by the Queen herself.

When it comes to planning, marketing, logistics, and scheduling events, Kaity Goodwin is your lady! Kaity is the queen of events and someone who I had the pleasure of working with during my time in college. Last Spring, when we were forced to move home from Babson due to the pandemic, Kaity was one of the first people to step up and tackle our college’s Campus Activities Board transition to running virtual events. After almost one year of virtual event marketing and planning, Kaity has seen and done it all, making her the perfect resource for any virtual planners out there! The virtual floor is all yours Kaity!


Kaity! Tell the blog community a little bit about yourself and maybe how we got to know each other! (Go CAB!)

Screen Shot 2021-02-08 at 6.19.40 PMHiiii Ursula :)) sure! I always like to say three of my biggest passions are art and design, event planning, and making people smile. I love thinking creatively and acting on that creativity. I’m passionate about graphic design and love experimenting with the latest software, whether on my laptop or iPad! This definitely stems from my love for event planning and creating fun, engaging, and new events for my community, whether it was in my role as Vice President of Events for the Babson Campus Activities Board, creating programs for my residents as a Resident Assistant, or planning fun arts and crafts projects during my time as a camp counselor. The creative side of event planning is definitely what appeals to me, and that leads to my third passion which is making people smile! I’m definitely motivated by how others react to my work, and it pushes and drives me to do my best to make others’ experiences worthwhile. 

I had the absolute pleasure of working closely with Ursula during my role as VP of Events for CAB! I got to interview and select Ursula to fill our vacant President position at the end of the Fall of 2019 and could definitely see some of the same passions and qualities that she had for event planning. We were able to create some fabulous events in the Winter of 2020, but then had to make the tricky transition into virtual events once COVID-19 hit and our campus was sent home for the remainder of the semester. 

What is your involvement with Campus Activities and why do you love it so much?

I’ve been involved with the Babson Campus Activities Board (CAB) since my Freshman year at Babson. I loved attending events during my freshman fall- and even won some AWESOME prizes- and knew that I had to be a part of this amazing organization. I had done a lot of event planning in high school and it was definitely something that I strongly considered- and am still considering!- as a career path when I entered college. 

I was on the Events Committee my Freshman year and was later elected to Vice President of Events for my Sophomore year where we created some great events, resurrected old campus traditions, and even created some new “CAB staple events”. I’m currently in my Junior year at Babson serving as the VP of Marketing, where I’m working on creating different avenues of marketing on campus besides social media, and also defining and refining a CAB Brand Book to help really solidify our brand and vision to the rest of the campus!

Pre-COVID, some of my favorite things were seeing the long line of people waiting to get into an event, or seeing friends talk about events and encouraging each other to go. Once I saw the auditorium filled with smiling, laughing faces, I knew that no matter what the stress or difficulties were leading up to the event- and trust me, there were many- that I had done my job and seeing the joy and happiness from students was all that mattered. 

Overall, being able to give back to my community with something that I love doing, and look forward to doing every day is what is most rewarding about being on CAB!

What are the most successful virtual events that you have hosted that others can put on themselves?

Virtual Bingo – a classic! At Babson, however, it can be a little difficult to make sure to cover all your cheating loopholes since we have some very ~competitive~ students. We create a google form for sign-ups and use a bingo card distributor.

Pet Photo Contests – people love taking pictures of their pets, and your viewers will also love seeing these adorable photos as well! We had a holiday-themed pet photo contest and let our Instagram followers vote on their favorites. (prizes included pet co gift cards)

Photo Scavenger Hunt – set out a list of 15-20 items and instruct participants to find at least 10 or so of them. We encourage our students to get creative by incentivizing with judging categories such as “most cohesive photo” where they should combine as many items as they can to create a cohesive scene!

Virtual Escape Room – this can be done through a vendor (like CAB did) or homegrown! I created a homegrown version for a different organization that utilized Google sheets and form validation logic! It was a lot of fun to make, and participants really enjoyed the mini-games and puzzles sprinkled throughout. 

Book Club – we mailed hard and e-copies of several great titles to our students. After about two weeks, everyone hopped on a zoom call and discussed the book with some guided questions. Those who attended had a great time and we had many requests to keep it going throughout the summer and into the next year!

Among Us Tournament – we gathered everyone on a zoom call and divided into different breakout rooms. I was able to set up a tournament point system using an excel sheet and had one EBoard member in each breakout room taking scores for their group. After 2 games, everyone switched rooms and played with new people. 

Caption Contest – another fun and simple social media contest. We posted a photo of Babson’s beloved mascot doing something a little funny and challenged our followers to come up with some creative captions! This can certainly be done for multiple different occasions.

Social Media Scavenger Hunt – this one is still in the works, but something I am very excited to launch! To work on increasing our followers not only on Instagram, but on our other platforms (events google calendar, Snapchat, mailing list, etc.) we’ll be hosting a scavenger hunt where participants will have to visit and like/subscribe to the various platforms to receive a piece of the puzzle to win a prize! 

Overall Tip – use sites like linktree, bit.ly or tinyurl to help your users access events, links, or event codes with ease! 

Why do you believe virtual programming is important during this time?

Programming pre-COVID was definitely a necessity and something that everyone looked forward to. Without CAB, I wouldn’t have made the friends I have today and would have definitely missed out on a lot of great experiences that shaped my freshman year and how I started off at college. Programming and events are important to so many people and to me, even if the virtual programs are different, they’re still important and still should be held, regardless of turnout. They still provide ways to connect with new people and even though we don’t actually see them physically, I definitely have a few “regulars” who I recognize their name when they pop up into events and we’ve even said hi to each other a few times when going to class or getting food! 

Just like regular programming, you never know how an event could impact someone, and in my opinion, almost nothing negative can come from having a program, whether in person or virtual!

What is one event that you haven’t done yet, but are hoping to in the future?

One event I was really looking forward to hosting with my co-VP of Event last year was our “cash CAB” event where we would rent a golf cart, drive around giving students rides to class, while simultaneously asking them trivia questions for a chance to win some Amazon Gift Cards. It was unfortunately canceled due to COVID, but I am hopeful that next spring we’ll be able to host it!

What is your advice for other Campus Activities Boards or virtual programmers out there?

Hang in there! It’s tough, but your job is so important and I’m sure your students are grateful for your events and having something to do. Diversify your event portfolio and take this time to try something new that maybe you were unsure of before. Talk to other Programming Boards from other schools and see what they’re doing! You may get some really cool ideas or some of their events might inspire you. 

What are some qualities that a good Campus Activities Board member must possess in order to be successful in pulling off virtual events?

Celebrate virtually

Adaptable – some of our greatest virtual events are in-person events that we were able to convert to a virtual environment! Think about the key elements of each event and how they can be translated virtually. 

Creative – you definitely gotta think outside the box!! Virtual programming is hard, and people get tired of Bingo and trivia every other weekend. We are living in a very technologically advanced and evolutionary world, use it to your advantage!

Organized and Calculated – maybe YOU don’t have to be this person (maybe you’re the idea person!), but you (or someone) will need to think through every step of the event from start to finish as to how a student or participant would see it. In an in-person event, if there’s a problem, it’s easy to run over and patch up or make an announcement. But if you’re sending out links, docs, or other things that can’t be changed later… that could cause confusion amongst participants. 

Confidence and Fun – radiate confidence! If you believe you can pull this event off and it will be fun, your energy and enthusiasm will rub off on the rest of your team and on all your participants! If you are having fun, so will they!

Do you have faith that on-campus events will return? 

Definitely! It will definitely take time (and I think more time than many of us are hoping), but I am confident that on-campus events will return once we are all vaccinated. But for now, make sure to follow the rules, wear a mask, stay 6’ apart, and do your part to keep everyone around you safe!

Patrick O’Hanlon on his Profession in Library Sciences

Being surrounded by books teaches you a host of life lessons.

As many of you may know, I worked as an Information Assistant at my college’s library. My experience working at the library is one that I hold in the highest regard. I enjoyed so much helping others find books and recommending my favorite reads to students. I also found it fascinating to witness our library’s transition from majority print resources to shifting towards more digital resources. Our world is changing at such a rapid pace that it becomes increasingly important to prioritize asking why these changes are occurring, what our future will look like, and how we fit into this new normal. It was such a great pleasure to speak with Patrick O’Hanlon, who works in the Library Sciences, to hear about his unique career journey as well as his take on the future of print.


Patrick! Please share a little bit about yourself!

What was your major in college and how did your academic experience guide your professional endeavors?

During undergrad studies, my major was Speech Communication with a minor in Media Production. It’s a very broad major, but I supplemented it with internships and a variety of jobs. I was a jack-of-all trades after receiving my bachelor’s degree, and just after graduation, I bounced around more than I’d expected. The biggest change happened after I lived abroad for a year and then returned to find a media job in academia. That position helped me form my personal life and gave me stability.

Did you always know that you wanted to work in library access services or have a career trajectory towards library and information science?

Working in library sciences was something that I was drawn to as a career change. My personal life had the chance to grow because of the steady job I found at Suffolk University. The reliability of the workplace was comfortable, and while I did pursue other projects outside of work, it became clear that my existing skills weren’t going to afford me any new opportunities to advance my career in the visible future.

While discussing it with Lynn, my wife, my propensity for organization kept resurfacing, and I applied for the Masters of Library Science program at Simmons College, which has since become a university. Once I was accepted as a part-time student, it took four years to finish the program. Taking graduate classes – even one at a time – with a full-time job, doesn’t afford the same kind of tight-knit experience that undergrad does. You make connections and collaborate with great people, but you’re all quickly pulled in different directions with life’s other obligations being based almost entirely off campus.

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How did you ultimately end up working for Babson?

After graduation, it took about nine months of searching after finishing my Masters before I made my way to Babson. Simmons is one of the best library science schools in the country and offers its graduates great resources for job placement. It was finding my way through my own personal boundaries that became the real challenge. My family is mostly in the Boston area and Lynn also has a very serious career here, so picking up and moving somewhere new simply to apply my new degree was not in the cards.

I had been to Babson’s Wellesley campus on an occasion or two in the past, and as a visitor, it had just seemed like a picturesque college. Returning with the possibility of working in the library opened up the highlights of the business community for me, and the entrepreneurial spirit of the community is inspiring. The students want to not only do well for themselves, but also to build the future. Entrepreneurship is the long lever that they have found that really can move the world. This was a place I was intrigued to be a part of, and it’s fantastic to contribute to an constantly evolving institution.

What about your job is most engaging to you?

It’s the academic setting of the Horn Library that is one of the appealing things about working at Babson. It is a community of people who believe in changing the world for the better. The students and teachers here are the stars. My role as a librarian and a manager is a supporting one. The technical aspects of working in a library can be picked up rather quickly, and it is absolutely about making the library serve the community,

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

The ongoing, but welcoming, challenge is managing people. Oh, and scheduling. (My god, the scheduling!) The student employees are more often the day-to-day face of the library and report to me. As a manager of people who are in one of the first jobs early in their work life, it’s about encouraging them to trust their problem solving abilities and then recognizing the teachable moments when difficulties occur that will help them navigate as professionals in careers well beyond library customer service.

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Do you have a favorite book or author?

One of the books that made an impression on me just after college was the memoir “A Pirate Looks at Fifty” by Jimmy Buffett, the musician. (Two things to be noted are that his personal worth is currently estimated to be around $600 million and that he has no relation to Warren Buffett the investor.) Here is someone who took a very basic skill that he learned in college during his spare time – playing four chords on a guitar – and parlayed it over decades into one of the best-known entertainment careers of the Baby Boomers’ generation. His public journey was far from certain and even a performer’s career comes with unexpected indignities in tow. His music isn’t complex and hasn’t won many awards in spite of the widespread popularity of its heyday, but he measures his success in the reception he and his bandmates receive from fans when they perform. The reflections he has in the book show that even with the adventures he’s been afforded, no job compensation or perk is worth the effort if you can’t give yourself fully over the day-to-day of what you do or if you don’t love who you share your private time with once the crowd goes home. (His pro tip for future parents: hone your pancake-making skills.)

How is the field of information and the way that libraries function changing and what do you see the future of libraries looking like?

Libraries are undoubtedly leaping towards a more digital future, but they won’t be entirely digital. Digital resources are the supercar of knowledge. They can get you where you want to go faster than anything that has come before, but you still need people to drive it. Storing and encouraging knowledge is what libraries are here to do. Librarians are never themselves going to be omniscient repositories, but they can be the sherpa guides who know the territory to get you where you want to go. Libraries will be where the digital and human worlds of education meet.

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Will print ever die?

The question of whether or not print will ever die is a perennially relevant question. The short answer is no, even as we’ve come to rely on digital exponentially more during the pandemic. Is it changing? Absolutely. People freaked out that oral tradition was going to die and intelligence would dim with the written word becoming more common back in Socrates’ day. The Gutenberg Printing Press made books more accessible than any time before and there was concern that people would devalue the skill of reading. Now we’re well into racing along another iteration of how people disseminate and consume information, and any rapid, systemic change is unsettling. Paper is certainly less efficient for rapid delivery and is becoming less day-to-day, but it will still be an important part of how we consume and store information long term. Studies have shown that, as individuals, we retain information better when we read analog print, and there isn’t yet a digital tablet that has the battery life or storage medium to outlast paper and ink.

What about the future personally excites you?

Today’s students are approaching the world with an eye toward making the whole work better for everyone. It’s a spirit of leadership that will take advantage of some of the best technologies we’ve ever had to solve problems. I look forward to seeing the inventiveness of the classes of students I’ve watched pass through campus come into their own and show just how much they can do.

Hugh Thompson on Becoming a Doctor during COVID-19

Hugh on answering the call to step into the field of medicine.

Entering into the field of medicine is a noble act, which only very few are cut out for. Hugh Thompson, however, is just one of those people that was born to practice medicine. Having grown up visiting and engaging with doctors, Hugh knew that he wanted to impact the world in the same way that medicine had impacted his life- for the better. Hugh’s story is not one without its challenges, but one that is inspiring because of its challenges. If you have ever considered becoming a medical professional, this article is definitely for you. If you are interested in the field of medicine and healthcare in America, this article is also for you. Hmm… if you have ever seen a doctor, this article is just for you.


Screen Shot 2020-10-27 at 3.16.32 PMHugh, tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hello everyone! First of all, I want to say that I am truly honored and humbled that you would ask me of all people to chat!

In terms of a little bit about me: I graduated from Wake Forest University in 2017. After graduating, I moved back home to central New Jersey for 3 years to build up my resume and save up a little bit of money before going to medical school. During those 3 years, I volunteered as an EMT in my hometown as well as worked as a scribe in the Saint Barnabas Emergency Department, ultimately becoming the ‘lead scribe’ for the final 2 years of my time there. I was offered an acceptance at New York Medical College in Westchester County, New York in the Spring of 2019 with a deferment – meaning that instead of starting in the fall, I would start in the fall of 2020. And here we are!

What made you decide to go to medical school?Screen Shot 2020-10-27 at 4.37.24 PM

I can’t say there was one of those “ah-hah” moments that made me decide to want to pursue a career in medicine. For as long as I can remember, having the opportunity to care for others has been something I have wanted to make my life about. I was born with a genetic condition that meant I was around medicine quite a bit as a child, and what child wants to be in hospitals or at doctors offices? One of the moments that has stuck with me that represented the power that medicine can have on an individual arose from one of those trips to the hospital. 

Preface: I am incredibly lucky to have parents who stopped at nothing in their pursuit of ensuring that I received care from world-class practitioners of all sorts, and for this I will forever be grateful. After a variety of hospital trips, tests and the like, my mother ultimately settled on following up with a physician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. We had only been there a couple of times and I was probably only in 5th or 6th grade when I was visited by another practitioner during my regular visit. I was- and still am- a huge baseball fan, and I must have had a copy of Sports Illustrated with me, because the practitioner noticed and told me that he couldn’t wait to see me playing third base for the Phillies when I got older.

Now, my condition has never been life threatening or even significantly debilitating, but it does ensure that playing sports at more than a recreational level is not really possible for me- and this is something that that practitioner would have known. Nonetheless, the fact that someone like that took the time to express interest in me and in doing so, communicate a genuine and profound kind of empathy was an incredible confidence boost as well as an eye opener for me. I am sure that the practitioner doesn’t realize the kind of impact such a small statement made, as there was no way for him to have known that the child he engaged in was at the time having self confidence issues. I am less sure whether that practitioner was consciously aware that his positivity and empathy made more of a difference in my care than any medicine could have. Either way, having had the time to reflect on my experiences as a patient including moments like these, I have come to realize that it is positivity, a smile, even just a shared interest with a patient that can change a persons day, week, or life. By definition, for a patient to be a patient, something likely has gone wrong and the patient has made the decision to entrust their vulnerability to said physician. This trust, this faith in the physician’s ability, this hope that is inextricably linked to the patient-provider relationship is a privilege, and personally I can think of no higher honor than having the opportunity to improve the lives of others through medicine. That is all just a long way of saying that being able to possibly impact someone in a similar manner as I was has been a dream of mine for quite a while. 

Has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted how you view medicine and the healthcare industry at all?

Screen Shot 2020-10-27 at 4.38.39 PMI was able to witness the work that emergency providers put in during the height of the pandemic in our area firsthand and it was truly inspiring. To watch providers of all ages, backgrounds, and beliefs band together to fight for our communities made me wish I was through medical school and able to fight with them. From my viewpoint, Saint Barnabas never reached the depths that many hospitals in New York City experienced, but we were pretty overrun and hard hit nonetheless. Single use masks were being rationed and reused several times over. The hospital was out of hospital beds, almost out of ventilators, and short on capable providers. A lot of the providers weren’t allowed to return to their homes while they were in the middle of the pandemic, at the risk of infecting their loved ones. And yet, everyone came to work day in and day out, ready to fight with and for every single patient that came through the doors. I can honestly say that being able to witness the compassion, resilience, and strength of the providers at Saint Barnabas Medical Center was one of the most inspiring ‘moments’ in all of my living memory. So while the pandemic has been saddening on many levels, it has reinforced my faith in and desire to be a part of the medical community.

Is there a lot of discussion in the classroom about the pandemic and, if so, what is the conversation about?

Honestly, there has not been quite as much discussion in our academic classes regarding the pandemic so far. However, I have no doubt that once I transition into our classes regarding disease processes, the SARS-CoV-2 virus will get plenty of airtime in our lectures. 

Laboratory_art_print_cimestry__laboratory__vintage_science__flower_print__wall_art__vintage_print_on-removebg-previewI will say that beyond the classroom, the pandemic has definitely been a significant talking point. The school itself seems to have made concerted efforts to address how the pandemic and all of its side effects (isolation, Zoom classes, etc.) has affected us as students. Specifically, my school has what is called the “Resiliency Curriculum Committee” which existed even before the pandemic as a means for training the medical students in healthy emotional and psychological choices. I obviously cannot speak to what the topics covered in prior years Resiliency Curriculum were, but the discussions during the small group sessions this year have had a distinct COVID-19 pandemic flavor, which I think is extremely important. The pandemic is the elephant in the room here: a year ago, it would have been absurd to think that students would be attending lectures given by professors sitting in their home offices. To that end, the fact that the school wants to address how this is affecting its students and try to guide students through such a stressful time is something I appreciate. 

What is one thing that you wish you knew before you committed to going to medical school?

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Hugh along with his co-workers

I can’t say there is a particular piece of advice that would have changed how I did things. The one thing I find myself wishing for was an advisor – none of my family are involved in medicine of any kind, so at times I did feel as if I was flying in the dark in terms of building my resume for medical school. I never knew what types of jobs to apply to, when to take what classes or tests, how to make myself a better applicant, etc. The pre-health advisory system at my undergraduate college was great – they were more than happy to provide specific answers to many of my bigger questions, but because they were dealing with literally hundreds of students, there was really no way to go to them with little questions or concerns. I ended up relying on the two or three of my friends that were also planning to go to medical school for guidance, and I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today without their patience and advice so I am lucky and grateful to have them around (shoutout Ryan and Mike!).

What excites you most about medicine in general?

Screen Shot 2020-10-27 at 4.40.18 PMHmm, thats a great question. At the risk of sounding like a nerd, I am super excited about a lot of the science behind medicine. It is truly amazing how ‘well designed’ and finely tuned the human body is. And then when things go wrong, the creativity that scientists and physicians have implemented in coming up with solutions and treatments is incredible. Being able to spend the rest of my life learning about all of this and implementing it to help patients is super exciting. 

That being said, the reason I wanted to go into medicine is for the people. I love people and their stories, and medicine provides a great way to simultaneously build relationships with a huge range of people, while also having the chance to positively impact the lives of those people. I don’t have any delusions of grandeur when it comes to being able to ‘fix’ everyone’s medical issues. I realize that often, physicians do not have the answers, can’t solve the problem, or have to be the bearer of bad news. But where I feel that physicians make an impact is in how they are able to handle these types of moments. I recently finished reading both Being Mortal by Atul Gawande and When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, and one of the sentiments that really stuck with me from those books was the importance of physicians in speaking candidly with their patients, no matter how uncomfortable it may be at the time. Being able to help guide patients through these tough moments is just one of the ways that I hope to be able to make an impact down the road, and it is these types of moments that I am excited to play a role in one day. Though admittedly, I could go on and on about everything I am excited about with regards to becoming a physician… 

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in going to medical school?

Don’t let anything stop you. If you know that you want to be a physician, you can become a physician. 

So many people get discouraged by the amount of work that the application process takes: the pre-requisite classes during undergraduate years, studying/taking the MCAT, school application essays or fees, or any of the other barriers. If you want it bad enough, none of that matters. Hard work and passion for the field of medicine are the single two most important factors in getting into medical school, because they will always help you overcome the barriers that are put in place. 

One last thing on this question: one of the best physicians I have had the pleasure of working with applied to medical school 3 times and had started podiatry school before he was ultimately accepted to medical school. 

My Most Challenging Academic Pursuit

My journey to finishing my Babson Honors Thesis Project.

Without a doubt, writing my honors thesis at Babson was one of the most rewarding- and most challenging- experiences of my entire academic career. I applied for Babson’s Honors Program when I was a Sophomore in college by recommendation from my Business Law Professor, who encouraged me to apply, thinking that I would be a good fit for the program. Once I was selected to participate in the program, I knew the hard work was just beginning.

I remember sitting with my peers at the Honors Retreat later in the year, looking anxiously around at my talented and ambitious classmates. I had no idea what I wanted to write about and with every brainstorming session and idea-generating conversation, I fell deeper and deeper into a whirlwind of confusion. When I finally considered studying music for my project, I encountered yet another obstacle: who was going to be my advisor? To describe finding someone who has knowledge about music, musicians, and passion at a business school as merely challenging is a vast understatement. I spoke to upwards of ten professors from Olin and Babson with no avail. How I found my advisor at the end of my Junior year still remains to be a bit of a mystery to me. I distinctly remember walking into her office in the basement of Tomasso thinking:

“this is my last hope, if she says that she cannot advise me I am not sure what I am going to do,” as I crossed my fingers under the table.

To my relief, she was truly the most interesting, genuine, generous, and kind professors I had met at Babson. I knew that if she said no to advising my project I would not only have to continue looking for an advisor but, more importantly, I would be missing out on the chance to work with such an incredible scholar. 

I could not have been more overjoyed when my advisor agreed to work with me on my honors thesis during my Senior year. The fact that I would be her first advisee made the experience all the more special. It made me feel as though we were walking into uncharted territory together and that we could both make mistakes and laugh about them. We would always figure it out, but we had the joy of figuring it out together. 

When I returned from summer break, I was excited to revisit the project, yet, undeniably, apprehensive. I had spent the whole summer searching for inspiration. Whatever I read, watched, or experienced I thought about how I could generate a thesis idea from it. With no luck, I returned to school with a pit in my stomach. I was still so confused as to what to write about. This confusion soon turned into frustration, as I used this conflict to define other parts of my life. How come I do not know what I am passionate about? Maybe I don’t know myself? If I could not choose a research topic of interest, how was I going to choose a profession after college?

Who is Ursula?

Yet, I was always comforted by my advisor’s simple and warm words “your project does not have to be perfect and, in fact, no project is”. It was as though these words allowed me permission to make mistakes, knowing that floundering was part of the process. It was my advisor’s continued faith in me that convinced me that I was capable of moving forward and, without it, I would not have believed that I could finish. 

It was at the Honors Reception in October of 2019 that my confidence during the process was at an all-time low. At this point, I had limited faith in my project. I still had not developed a research question or methodology. I found that my thoughts were constantly spinning in circles, butterflies in my stomach as I entered the dining hall. I knew that, at the reception, I would be forced to talk about my ideas and how I would be accomplishing my goals, but I simply did not have any answers. I clearly recall, when we had to stand up and present our projects, my advisor leaning over to tell me to have confidence because my preliminary idea was inherently interesting, words which gave me enough encouragement to stumble along and explain my project to the room. 

Yet, despite my discouragement, that semester my advisor helped me to press on, motivating me to continue to make mistakes, discover, and ask questions. I think that some of the best advice she gave me was that if I kept circling back to the same idea it meant that this was the idea that I should pursue. Another piece of advice I found incredibly helpful was that I should just start talking to people- diving in even though I did not have all the answers. She helped me to realize that I did not have to have everything figured out before I began and that this project would be an iterative process of discovery, learning, and adaptation. 

Despite my progress’s interruption from my college having to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I felt certain of the completion of my thesis. I knew that my advisor and I would see our project to the end, knowing that if we had come this far there was no stopping us now. After many long nights in my house writing away, I finally finished my honors thesis at the end of April, just weeks before I was supposed to have my graduation.

Now that I had completed the thesis, my mind was drawn to the other aspects of the project that I would now be missing out on: the presentation of my work at the Honors Thesis showcase, my advisor and my weekly catch ups, and having my parents see me graduate with honors. What hurt the most? The fact that my advisor would not be seeing me, along with all of the other honors students, walk across the stage to receive my diploma. I would miss out on the moment where I would find my advisor and family in the crowd as I stood on stage with my honors degree in hand, thinking about how proud I was that we finally finished this long journey together. 

Nevertheless, this day will come at some point in the future, but if it doesn’t that would be O.K. too. I have realized walking across a stage or showcasing my work some place would have been nice, but it wouldn’t change the research already done and the experience already had.