Career Talk With The Next Generation

One of the best decisions I’ve ever made was to go to Mount Holyoke College. In addition to providing a liberal arts education, my alma mater gave me the opportunity to learn in a setting where I was surrounded by smart, inspiring and compassionate women–several of whom remain dear friends to this day.

Building upon the solid foundation I was given by my late, beloved parents, MHC reinforced that no dream or goal is impossible if you’re willing to work hard and stay open to learning. And when you attend a women’s college, you also see that gender doesn’t have to determine how far you go–a lesson I cherish even more now as the floodgates have opened about sexual harassment and toxic environments in multiple industries.

Mount Holyoke Women: Ahu and me

There is a feeling of sisterhood that bonds you with fellow MHC alums–even if you didn’t connect on campus. I had the pleasure of rediscovering this recently, when I was invited by class of 96’er Ahu to participate in a career panel at Meredith Publishing for visiting MHC juniors and seniors.

I said yes immediately–then found myself feeling more than a little anxious. Put me in front of a camera or on a karaoke stage, no problem. Public speaking? Cue the nerves, intensified by this being my first such engagement and wanting to impart something of value to these future grads.

Fortunately, I relaxed as soon as I felt the positive, inquisitive energy from the 20+ women before me. Given how circuitous my professional path has been, I wanted them to know that there is more than one way to get to where you want to go. In an era when hyper specialized majors are common and millennials tend to think they need to have their entire future mapped out, it felt good to share a different perspective. And to reflect on my varied career.

I graduated from college with dreams of TV news stardom. The winding road of that part of my career took me to places glamorous (Sydney, Australia) and places…less so (Bangor, Maine, Southern Illinois, Dover, Delaware). After seven years in the business, a freelance writing gig for fellow J-school alum and highly-regarded travel journalist Valarie D’Elia led to my next chapter—hospitality PR and marketing. Thirteen years later, I am blessed to still love my job and look forward to work every day.

As I told the MHC students, at graduation I never imagined doing what I do. But now I can’t imagine doing anything else. So thankful to my alma mater for preparing me well for the zig zag trajectory my career has taken. And, of course, for connecting me with amazing women I’m proud to call friends.


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