“I was very happy with the willingness of alumni to stay in contact, to talk about their career experiences, and to pass along resumes,” says Adrian St. Francis.
As graduation approaches, the question of what to do with the rest of your life looms large in the minds of most college students.
Fourteen Mac students got to explore that question over spring break on a Mac-sponsored trip to Washington, D.C., where they met with alumni working for a variety of government and nonprofit organizations. The group spent four days in the nation’s capital on a program organized by the college’s Career Development Center and Alumni Relations Department. The students were accompanied by staff from those departments as well as by political science professor Julie Dolan.
They visit kicked off with a “Welcome to Washington” talk by Grace Arnold ’07, a health insurance specialist for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Over the next few days students enjoyed meeting Mac alumni, donors, and trustees at several receptions (including one at which “we took over the restaurant,” as one student put it) and heard from a panel about legal careers. They also visited the Congressional Budget Office, a solar thermal financing company, and the Partnership for Public Service.
Then the students split off to do informational interviews with a wide variety of D.C. alumni. Some met with Minh Ta ’97, chief of staff for Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), while others arranged appointments based on their own interests.
International studies major Oana Alexan ’13 (Oradea, Romania), for example, who is interested in immigration policy, met with staff from the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and the Jesuit Refugee Service. Rosie Glenn-Finer ’13 (San Francisco), on the other hand, is a biology major interested in public health. That led her to schedule meetings with Andrea Sternberg ’00, Haiti health coordinator for USAID, and Maria Patrocollo-Emerson ’07, who works for health care consulting firm RTI International.
More focused on a typical law school-driven career, Adrian St. Francis ’13 (Sonoma, Calif.) met with several Mac alumni with whom he’d been in email contact. He was particularly interested to meet Andrea Johnson ’06, a recent Columbia Law School graduate now clerking for a judge on the D.C. Court of Appeals. “I was very happy with the willingness of alumni to stay in contact, to talk about their career experiences, and to pass along resumes,” says St. Francis.
Glenn-Finer was also pleased by the opportunity to network. “I thought it was really cool to learn about what various organizations are doing and what day-to-day life is like in D.C.,” she says. “Speaking with alumni about how they got to where they are today was really interesting. Plus, Washington is a great city—very walkable.”
Alexan, who thought of the U.S. capital as “this mythical place,” was equally taken by the visit. “People are cause driven and passionate here,” she says, adding, “I was humbled by their kindness and generosity, their willingness to take a 21-year-old and her dreams seriously.”