I have co-founded and work for a medical device start-up company. We have four people working in this company, but we don't know everything we need to know about the complex world of FDA regulation, insurance reimbursement, device standards, etc. So, on a day-to-day basis, I'm responsible for finding people and/or resources that can fill in the gaps in our collective knowledge. I also take care of finances, writing grants, and a number of other ancillary tasks.
Undergrad degree: Political Theory & Constitutional Democracy
Favorite class in college: Introduction to Latin
College to career:
After I graduated, I moved to Austin and worked for the Texas Senate. The job description entailed summarizing and clarifying newly introduced bills for the public, but the reality was that I wound up being little more than a Xerox machine. While I was seeking something more fulfilling while I was at the office, I started volunteering online for a nonprofit called College Forward. I wound up liking the group and the mission enough to join on as an AmeriCorps Vista member for two years. During that time, I had the opportunity to really make my own job and take on as many responsibilities as I was interested in, regardless of my lack of experience. I wrote grants, handled finances, took part in other elements of organizational management, and played a significant role in growing a successful nonprofit from 600 students served then to almost 1,500 students served when I left. Much of what I did there wound up translating well to what I do now with Articulate Labs, as my job here is to help the organization grow and to handle management issues so we have more resources free for development.
My undergraduate degree was important because I couldn't have started on this path without it. Even though what I've done over the past few years has nothing to do with political theory, what I learned about writing, communicating, reading carefully, debating... all of those skills I improved continue to be tapped on a regular basis.
Career influences: The main influence on my career decisions has generally been about how much I can learn and improve in my job. I never stuck to one area because I only had experience there. Whatever job provides me the most challenge so far has also given me the most enjoyment.
Cons: People think working from home is the greatest, but I've learned to hate it. It's isolating, you feel like you should be relaxing when you work, and vice versa. I actually can't wait to get back into an office.
- Develop relationships with your professors - they'll be among the first you rely upon for references and networking as you're starting your career. This means talking to them, coming to office hours, etc. It's not enough to do well in the class, they have to know who you are.
- Figure out what classes you need to take to graduate and map out when you'll take those classes, but check with a counselor to make sure you haven't missed something or that you're not taking classes you don't need.
- Talk with people who are employed in the areas you're interested in and find out what skills and types of knowledge they use regularly so you can hit the ground running when you graduate.