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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Alumni share how their service in college is serving them now

Published: March 28, 2014
Section: News

Members of the Brandeis community gathered for an alumni panel, “The Intersection of Service and Your Career” in the Shapiro Campus Center Multipurpose Room on Monday, March 24.

Co-sponsored by Waltham Group, Hiatt Career Center and the Department of Community, the event’s purpose was to engage current and former Brandeis students in a discussion about how Brandeis’ offerings prepared students for a career in service. The panelists were five young Brandeis alumni who previously held positions as Waltham Group Coordinators. The alumni spoke about the various experiences that being Waltham Group Coordinators offered and how they were incorporated into their careers. Nate Shammay ’14 moderated the panel.

Mariah Rich ’10 explained how Waltham Group prepared her for her current path. She said that she learned problem-solving skills and how to manage different personalities and overcome challenges. Rich was a Waltham Kid’s Club coordinator, who became part of the Budget and Steering Committee during her senior year.

Corey Bisceglia-Kane ’03 offered remarks about the skill set learned through leadership positions in Waltham Group.

“Dedicating the time to be a coordinator and learning the skills the job required prepared me for work,” Bisceglia-Kane said. “It taught me how to be an independent thinker and a problem solver.”

At her job in social work as a case manager, Bisceglia-Kane often relies on the “real-life job skills” she earned as a Waltham Group Coordinator, she said.

Allie Joseph ’12 said that when she was prompted to articulate her skills in job interviews, it was extremely helpful to be able to tell stories from her experiences as a coordinator.

“It’s a different way of sharing your experiences and who you are,” Joseph said.

Joseph emphasized how her job as a coordinator taught her how to plan an event, a skill that helps her every day as a third-grade teacher. She learned how to build relationships, bring people together and lead discussions.

Hilary Heyison ’13 replied that her experience as a Companions to Elders Coordinator helped her interview for her current job as a Research Assistant at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She emphasized how important it was that she was able to gain real life experiences in college to be prepared for the real world.

When Tom Coughlin ’11 was a senior at Brandeis, he realized that he didn’t want to pursue a career in his major, biology, although it was something he had thought he wanted to pursue when he entered as a first-year.

“I thought about what I really loved and enjoyed about my experiences at Brandeis, and I decided that I really loved my job at Waltham Group,” Coughlin said. Subsequently, he decided to follow a career in service programs and eventually decided to work in education.

The five alumni agreed that looking back, they would have approached their experience differently at Brandeis: to “embrace the not knowing and give yourselves time to figure it out.”

They echoed each others’ sentiments that when they graduated from Brandeis, they weren’t sure what they wanted to do.

“Until the moment you graduate from college, a lot of your decisions are laid out for you. We go from school to school, and when you graduated high school, you knew you were coming to study at Brandeis. This is the first time in your life where you really get to choose what you are doing; and it’s okay to not know,” they said as a group.