Six months after the Class of 2016 graduated from Macalester, we asked a few of the new alumni what life looks like now.
Liang “Adrian” Chang
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
I make my own discoveries in cancer research, and I am so proud of that every day. My workdays are a combination of experimental work, paper reading, and discussion with others. I work on my own independent research project, which means I am responsible for the whole process of finding questions, designing and doing experiments, and presenting my results. I love the freedom of this job.
Macalester prepared me for this job in tremendous ways. Mac’s science courses gave me a broad knowledge base in biology and chemistry—but more importantly, they encourage independent thinking and reading scientific research papers. The critical thinking skills I gained from my Mac education will help drive my research career.
Guitar Tonewood Intern
World Resources Institute
I got this job largely because of my international studies capstone at Macalester. I wrote about guitar production. I sent my capstone in as one of the writing samples with my application for this job, and it was a huge part of my getting hired. Critical thinking, great writing, and research skills are all incredibly important, but it was the “free-thinking” part of my Mac education that actually got me employed.
The World Resources Institute is a think tank in the environmental field that’s working at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity, and human well-being. I work with the Forest Legality Initiative, which aims to combat illegal logging and encourage market and regulatory solutions to global deforestation. I’m focusing on the guitar industry as a case study and an example for the rest of the timber industry. A typical workday is full of research, writing, calls (with guitar companies, wood suppliers, forestry groups, or other stakeholders), and team meetings. Sometimes I get to do a field visit at a guitar factory. I’ve played guitar for years and was a music minor at Mac, and it’s a dream come true to have found this particular way to join my passion and a career.
Front End Developer
In my sophomore year at Mac, I was applying for internships and handing out my resume everywhere. David Parmenter, a proud Macalester parent at Adobe, saw Mac on my resume and decided to give me an interview even though I was younger than most of the applicants. I beat them out and spent that summer with David’s team. When I was looking for full-time jobs senior year, I contacted David, who helped connect me to HR and hire me full time.
At Adobe, I’m a front end developer, which means I’m a software developer who specializes in pieces of software that users interact with. I work in the Creative Cloud Experience org on a team that creates the start/welcome screen for Creative Cloud apps such as Photoshop and Illustrator. I work on features and do bug fixes in my office for most of the day. My team meets every other day to discuss what we’re working on, if we need help, or if something is blocking us from moving forward. At lunch several times a week, I’ve been going to yoga classes that Adobe offers. I really like that Adobe, as a company, cares about me personally. The people I’ve met here are so nice, and they stay: I keep meeting people who have been at Adobe longer than I’ve been alive.
Defense Intelligence Agency
It’s hard to think of a class at Macalester that didn’t help prepare me for this work. Having graduated with majors in computer science, Arabic, and international studies, I’m uniquely able to synthesize varied information—and to think outside the box, which is essential to the Defense Intelligence Agency’s mission. The benefit of a small school like Macalester is its capacity to allow students to pursue such diverse fields. Macalester is especially distinctive for its ability to balance this depth and breadth of learning with its tight-knit sense of community.
If I had to choose one class in particular, it would be one of the international studies courses looking at specific legal issues, either Transitional Justice or Introduction to Human Rights. It’s amazing how similar my professional work is to the research I did at Macalester, which is a testament to the college’s excellent and high-powered academics.
I first heard about the brand specialist position thanks to Kaspar Mueller, a friend and Class of 2015 grad who sent out the description to senior economics majors. My day-to-day work varies greatly, and I feel like I’m always learning about a new tool or initiative going on at Amazon. Some days I spend time pulling data and analyzing potential operational issues with my vendor while other days I spend my time executing marketing plans or setting up deals on the website. I feel lucky to have the opportunity right out of college to make decisions regarding what’s important for my vendor and help them grow their business with us.
At Mac, I learned how to analyze problems from as many perspectives as possible and to think outside the box when facing an issue that may at first appear impossible to resolve. Some of the best memories I have of Macalester are just little everyday occurrences of life on campus—sitting in the campus center and running into friends between classes, going to campus events like Acappellooza and poetry slams, and exchanging ideas and perspectives with people from a variety of majors and backgrounds. Having those conversations and the variety of academic experiences I had at Macalester have helped me greatly as I navigate my career at Amazon and life after college overall.
Operations Director and Morning Edition host
WXPR Public Radio
I moved to Rhinelander, Wis., the morning after graduation to start my job at WXPR. A typical workday for me is getting into the studio at 5 a.m., going through the local news that our news director has prepared for the day, and combining it with state news that’s relevant to our listening area. At 6 a.m., I go on the air and start hosting and producing our local version of Morning Edition. The best part of hosting Morning Edition? Not only do I get to spend four hours every weekday morning listening to NPR, but I get to add local community voices, context, news, and features that help localize the content for my listeners in northern Wisconsin. At 9 a.m., I switch to operations. I’m responsible for all on-air show promotion, automation, programming, FCC compliance, and routine maintenance. I’m also the first person to troubleshoot problems with our equipment or signal.
Mac prepared me for this work because it helped me learn how to think critically. In my senior year, I took Narrative Journalism with veteran radio journalist Stephen Smith. That class taught me how to structure a story for maximum impact. Producing content is a large part of my job, and it helped that I produced a short documentary for my capstone. I also got the chance to do a radio journalism program for a semester abroad in Morocco. In addition to my coursework, I got valuable experience in the Twin Cities, thanks to my advisor, Michael Griffin, who connected me with local media organizations. I got to freelance for Minnesota Public Radio, be an off-campus student employee at Saint Paul Neighborhood Network, and intern for the Cedar Cultural Center. My media experience is what landed me the job I have now.
November 14 2016Back to top